“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” (Ps 23:3)
The Lord Jesus is the great Shepherd. He knows those that are his, leads them out to green pastures, makes them graze and rest there. He restores their souls as He knows their sorrows and wants. He goes before them and leads them in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
“…For My name shall be great among the nations” Says the Lord of hosts (Mal 1:11). We give honor to our Shepherd by keeping the commandments of the Word and walking in the narrow way of righteousness. To many of us, the meaning of righteousness is obscure. A short definition of righteousness is to live a holy and upright life, in accordance with God’s standard. It is to do what is right in God’s eyes.
When the disciples gathered in Galilee to meet with the resurrected Christ, a transformation occurred. Jesus appeared to His disciples and spoke to them about His intention to establish His Kingdom. Not only did He speak to them about matters concerning His Kingdom, He also rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart (Mk. 16:14). The disciples had these two truly fundamental problems. The former problem spoke of their faithlessness in the word of Jesus that He would be raised on the third day after His death (Mk. 16:11). The latter was regarding the rivalry the disciples had amongst themselves (cf. Lk 21:24).
After the meeting, however, they were still in the frame of believing that God would build His Kingdom on earth (Acts 1:6). In the context of Acts, the Kingdom does not refer to the physical kingdom of Israel. However, it refers to the church. The church, in the apostolic sense, really appeared after the downpour of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. In other words, the Holy Spirit established a community which is not of the world and that was determined to live a life separated from society at large, becoming a starting point for the Kingdom of God to advance.
Everybody is busy these days. It’s easy to find excuses to skip services or pass up a chance to do good. Sometimes we would like to help others, but we fear getting hurt in the process. Jesus warns in Mt 24:12, “because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”
In the parable of good Samaritan, the Samaritan did not find excuses to suppress his compassion. The Bible says that he had compassion on the injured man when he saw him (Lk 10:33-35). The Samaritan, who was despised by Jews, was able to manifest love. Conversely, the priest and the Levite feigned ignorance as they passed by. Despite possessing status and knowledge, the priest and Levite lacked love. They didn’t want to inconvenience themselves to help the helpless.
If the reception of the Holy Spirit is so important for salvation, it should be clear when it happens. Its evidence is the speaking of tongues (Acts 2:4, 33). The incident of speaking in tongues at Pentecost formed the basis for confirming Cornelius’ reception of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:44f): “Can any forbid water for baptizing these people who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have (Acts 10:47; 11:15)?” That they had received the Holy Spirit was in no way a haphazard guess or even to be expected, seeing as they were Gentiles. All the circumcised believers who had come to Cornelius’ house were amazed because they heard them speak in tongues (Acts. 10:46), thus confirming that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out upon the Gentiles also.
A careful reader would realize that the word ‘gift’ is singular. It coincides with that of the Pentecost: “…and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38). The Greek word for it is “Dorea” (Acts 2:28, 8:20; 10:45; 11:17; Jn 4:10). It denotes “free gift”. “The Gift of the Holy Spirit” here refers to the Holy Spirit Himself. The “gift” is not charismatic (1 Cor 12:4) because Peter’s message emphasized Jesus’ ministry, deeds, death and resurrection (Acts 10:34ff). “Charisma” is another Greek word which means “gift” (1 Cor 12:7). It refers to the bestowments (spiritual gifts, which include tongues-speaking as well) of the Holy Spirit upon different individuals in the body of Christ (Rm 12:6; 1 Cor 1:7; 12:4, 9, 28, 30, 31; 1 Tim 4:14; 2 Tim 1:6; 1 Pet 4:10).
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.” (Ps 23:1-2)
The green pastures and still waters described in Psalm 23 depict a wonderful picture of serenity. This is the kind of inward peace that we long for in this stressful world. Many of us are burdened by all sorts of pressure from our job, school work or even family responsibilities. Our pursuit of acceptance, status, and possessions can generate stress in our hearts, especially when we perceive that our expectations and desires are not going to be met.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want” (Ps 23:1). The relationship of the shepherd and sheep in this psalm reflects a total trust and dependence on God. We can trust that the Good Shepherd, our Lord Jesus Christ will take care of our needs. For a shepherd’s focus is to tend his sheep. Much of our stress dissolves when we acknowledge our dependence on God. Through prayer, supplication, and thanksgiving, we can enjoy a “peace which surpasses all understanding” (Phil 4:6, 7).