Greetings in the name of the Father, the son, and the Holy Spirit.
The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need.
He lets me rest in green meadows;
he leads me beside peaceful streams. (Psalm 23:1-2)
Jesus is the good shepherd to all, especially those needy in spirit. When Jesus was on this earth, the entire nation was under Roman occupation. The Romans ruled the nation by setting laws, rules, and governing bodies. Then the Romans heavily levied taxes. The lives of the ordinary were hard. They always looked for the one who would liberate them from the bondage of the Roman occupation. But they had no choice but lived in a world occupied by the Romans who persecuted them.
Thus, they were always yearning for the Messiah who could save them from the oppression under the Romans. Then finally, Jesus came to them, the Messiah and the good shepherd. Jesus gave the message of heaven from God, and they received it, which was filled with comfort and peace. Jesus’ message was different, which was not like those from their teachers and religious leaders. It was anything like on earth but only could come from God.
Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. The crowds gathered and His disciples gathered around Him, and Jesus began to give them God’s blessed and comforting message.
“God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. (Matthew 5:3-10)
What a message it was, which deeply touched the hearts of the people, and the people who heard Jesus’ message quickly shared the message that they heard from Jesus with others. They also came to Jesus. Thus the crowd flocked around Jesus was growing larger and larger. Indeed, during the dark time of oppression, who would refuse Jesus’ blessed message, packed with God’s love, grace, and mercy? All were comforted and received peace from God.
Jesus did not stop there. He then empowered those who were touched by His message. The message freed them, and they became no longer subjects under the Romans, oppressed, mistreated, and persecuted. Indeed, they were above the Romans. They could talk God’s blessings: God’s love, mercy, and grace to the Romans. What a dramatic change! They were at the bottom, being oppressed by the Romans without hope, but now they shone the light on the Romans who oppressed them. Indeed, they were the light of God, who overcame the world oppression of the Romans with the power of God
Then Jesus reminded them, “you are salt and light to the world, broken and without hope.” The world that they lived in was not their choice, and they had no way to get out of the world. They also had no power at all to change the world. But Jesus’ message liberated them, and the transformation process began from the inside, that is, their hearts because Jesus’ message deeply touched their hearts. From that day, the power of God was with them in their hearts.
Here is Jesus’ empowering message, who was their Messiah and Good Shepherd:
“You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5:13-16)
Large crowds, who were hungry spiritually, flocked around Him. They were fed by God’s message and satisfied. Then they followed Jesus wherever He went because they tasted the peace, comfort, and hope from God. Jesus preached and exposed God’s hidden truth for years from people. The truth immediately went deep into the hearts of those who listened to.
Their hearts were filled with truth, mercy, grace, and love. The powerful message could only come from Jesus Himself. None except Jesus could give the same powerful, comforting, and empowering message because the message was of God. Those who received Jesus’ message were joyful and freed as Jesus’ message broke off the bondage of the world where they lived under the Roman occupation.
The larger and larger crowd came and heard Jesus’ comforting and empowering messages. The Romans were physically with them daily and everywhere, but soon it was no longer relevant to them as they were becoming God’s. Their hearts were already living in the Kingdom of God, which was not of the world. Indeed, once the Kingdom of God entered their hearts, no one could take it away, even with physical forces. After all, the Romans could do was, at most, to kill bodies, but they could not destroy their hearts and minds, which was of God, not of the world.
As the sun set and evening came, the Roman oppression of the day ended. They went home and lay down with their family. Then God’s comfort and peace came down on them through the message that they heard. Indeed, their hearts were in God’s Kingdom, which stayed with them through the night and the following day, which came with Jesus’ message. Again, none could take away the kingdom of God dwelling in their hearts because God Himself sealed them. The seal could not be broken by any means because God Himself sealed it.
God guaranteed personally and sealed the kingdom of God in their heart with God’s love that never faded or changed. For this truth, Jesus came, and those who heard Jesus’ message received it in their hearts.
Indeed, their world was getting darker and darker, and their time was the darkest moment. They were taken advantage of by not only the Romans but also by their own people, who worked for the Romans as tax collectors to enrich themselves and cooperated with the Romans to hold on to their power over their own people, the ruling class, and religious leaders. Then how could ordinary people find hope, peace, and comfort? In their eyes, injustices were everywhere, which made them helpless and hopeless.
But they heard God’s comforting message and saw the bright light, revitalizing their minds and souls. Who could destroy the light they saw, which had already lived in their hearts and minds? Indeed, the Romans carried swords, but the swords could only kill, but the Romans could not harm their souls. Instead, God transformed them from the inside by living in the kingdom of God from their hearts. As being transformed, they no longer lived in the world that they saw, but there was being transplanted into the kingdom of God. As we all know, the mighty Rome did not last forever, but the kingdom of God is forever, which outlived Rome and is with us even today.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was truly compassionate and always caring. Jesus rained down God’s blessings and let the people joyfully live in God’s Kingdom. Then Jesus personally loved each of them as His own child. Although they were treated as the least, even among their own people, Jesus embraced each of them with His love and care. After all, Jesus’ heart was bigger for the least, and He sent away the rich and the powerful empty-handed.
One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
When Jesus saw what was happening, he was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.” Then he took the children in his arms and placed his hands on their heads and blessed them. (Mark 10:13-16)
Jesus’ disciples blocked children from coming to Him because the disciples around Him felt they were more important than children brought by their parents. They thought they were entitled to get Jesus’ blessings exclusively. But Jesus had a completely different idea. Jesus knew who needed His blessings most. They were the children. Why? They were already poor in their hearts and took what they were getting for granted – the poor treatment from the disciples at the scene. They did not even mand any attempt to speak out about their desire to receive Jesus’ blessing packed with God’s comfort and peace, but they were quiet.
Didn’t Jesus know this fact? Jesus precisely knew what was happening in the hearts of the children and the disciples. Then Jesus stretched out his hand and called in the children. What a merciful act of Jesus!
Jesus took special care of the children by providing special blessings to them. Was what Jesus did for the children only at the scene? No, Jesus did for all marginalized, poorly treated, and looked down on by those who have already received God’s grace and mercy. The disciples and those with Jesus at the scene had already received Jesus’ message with God’s love, grace, and mercy and were comforted. Even so, they did not know how to care for the children because they did not know the true meaning of God’s love. Although God always loves and cares for all, God loves more those who suffer and are looked down upon by those who feel greater.
What can we learn from what Jesus did? Jesus loved more the helpless children, who were the least at the scene. Even His disciples looked down upon them. What Jesus said was truly marvelous to those gathered around Jesus. Jesus demonstrated His care for the least and those suffering and rejected by the great and the proud.
But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then. (Matthew 19:30)
Yes, Jesus knows all the minute details in our hearts, including our ongoing struggles and our unspoken needs. Indeed, Jesus always sides with those who suffer most and are persecuted the most. Jesus knows and emphasizes all their pains, including pains that cannot be spoken but are hidden in the deepest part of hearts. Jesus knows all. He knows everything we are going through. Thus, we can be comforted in Jesus under all circumstances.
Before Jesus left this earth, he spoke the following words to his disciples, “And behold, I am always with you, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20)
Therefore, even if we get mistreated, penalized, or even persecuted, we can endure and maintain hope and peace in our hearts because hope and peace come from God, not from us, and God faithfully provides always and under all circumstances. Here is what Jesus said:
“God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers. Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
We are truly blessed. We have received God’s mercy, grace, peace, and comfort through God’s love, which belongs to God. Thus, we are attached to God and no longer of the world but of God. We are now completely different beings, newly born and transformed daily by the power of the Holy Spirit.
By the way, we are no longer of the world, and we are different from those who are of the world. Being different from those around us is not easy. Being different alone often puts us in a difficult situation.
Most might ignore our difference, uniquely filled with God’s love and peace, but some are not. They are offended by us simply because we are different, filled with the peace and calmness of God. After all, what we have in our hearts is beyond comprehension, especially to those offended.
Then what those who are offended would do? Is there anyone who would put off indefinitely something offending daily? No. It is a natural reaction – removing the thing that offends, whatever it may be, being manifested as mistreatment and persecution.
Then what shall we do? We remember what Jesus said. “God blesses us when people mock us and persecute us and lie about us and say all sorts of evil things against us because of one reason that we are different as Jesus’ follower who believes in God and holds the Kingdom of God in our hearts.
Then Jesus said, “be happy and be very glad!” Why? A great reward awaits us in heaven. Jesus also reminded us that we are not alone: the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
Thus, in Jesus, we should be bold on earth. No one can touch our soul blessed by God, our faithful ever-loving Father, and the kingdom of God dwelling in our hearts.
“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28)
Here is Jesus’ promise: He will surely keep us forever under all circumstances as we are faithful to Him on earth.
Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. (Matthew 10:32)