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Micah 5:4 1
He will stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God. And they will live securely, for then his greatness will reach to the ends of the earth.

clip_image195 (1)Background

Here are some facts about who Micah was:

  • He was the 6th in order of the minor prophets.
  • He was one of 12 minor prophets. ‘Minor’ meaning that these prophets wrote shorter prophecies than the 4 greater prophets. The greater ones were Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel.
  • Micah is called the Morasthite. This means that he was an inhabitant of Moresheth Gath, a small village about 22 miles south-west of Jerusalem.
  • He was a prophet when Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah were kings of Judah. They were kings from 756 to 697 BC.

The section of Micah we will be studying is about the Messiah’s birth and his future greatness

Biblical Truths 2

The Messiah will rule (Revelation 20:4-6). He will rule with his ‘brothers’ (the people that believe in him). He will stand. That means that he will live for always (Psalm 33:11; Isaiah 14:24). He will stand in the LORD’s strength. He will be like a shepherd. He will look after his sheep. David too was a shepherd. He looked after sheep. Then God took him away from the sheep. God made him a shepherd (ruler) over God’s people.

The Messiah will not rule by means of human power. He will not rule by clever plans, like David’s sons. They had not followed the LORD’s ways to live. They had trusted in their military strength. (Look at Micah 5:10-15.)

But the Messiah will be like David. He will trust God and he will obey God’s laws. The Messiah’s greatness was like David’s (2 Samuel 7:9). But David’s greatness was only in one country, Israel. Christ’s greatness will reach further. His government will reach all over the Earth (Micah 4:3-4; Matthew 28:18-20; John 17:2). Christ gives eternal life to his people. That new life will last for always. Nobody can steal God’s people from his hands (from his care). (See John 10:28.)

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. And he will be the great Ruler of Israel (Zechariah 14:9-11). The citizens that are under his rule will live in safety. They will defeat the devil (Matthew 12:22-29). Jesus will provide for their spiritual health (John chapter 10; Hebrews 13:20; 1 Peter 5:4).

Items for Discussion

  • Who are our modern day shepherds?
  • What are our modern day dangers to the sheep?
  • How do the modern day shepherds protect the modern day sheep?
  • If we assume that Jesus is here today and is “our shepherd,” how does Jesus protect us?
  • Why can’t we protect ourselves?

 

John 17:6-19
6 “I have revealed you to those whom you gave me out of the world. They were yours; you gave them to me and they have obeyed your word. 7 Now they know that everything you have given me comes from you. 8 For I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them. They knew with certainty that I came from you, and they believed that you sent me. 9 I pray for them. I am not praying for the world, but for those you have given me, for they are yours. 10 All I have is yours, and all you have is mine. And glory has come to me through them. 11 I will remain in the world no longer, but they are still in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, protect them by the power of your name, the name you gave me, so that they may be one as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I protected them and kept them safe by that name you gave me. None has been lost except the one doomed to destruction so that Scripture would be fulfilled. 13 “I am coming to you now, but I say these things while I am still in the world, so that they may have the full measure of my joy within them. 14 I have given them your word and the world has hated them, for they are not of the world any more than I am of the world. 15 My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. 17 Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, I have sent them into the world. 19 For them I sanctify myself, that they too may be truly sanctified.

Background 3

Who is Jesus of Nazareth? This is the fundamental question which the Gospel of John poses for us. John develops his gospel to answer that question using compelling evidence and eye-witness testimony. John, the youngest of the twelve apostles, wrote his gospel late in life, around 100 AD, in the city of Ephesus, a Greek-speaking center of commerce and culture. By that time the vast majority of Christians were no longer converts from Jewish communities, but people who lived in a world dominated by the culture, thought, and worldview of Greece and Rome. John appealed to their powers of reason and reflection to consider who Jesus claimed to be.

John’s style and focus is very different from the other three gospel accounts by Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Mark presents a clear-cut account of the facts of Jesus’ life and ministry; his style is plain, direct, and literal. Matthew focuses on a systematic account of Jesus’ teaching. Luke describes Jesus as the friend of all. In contrast to these three, John’s gospel is more reflective, profound, and spiritual. John had 70 years from Jesus’ death and resurrection to reflect upon what Jesus had said and done. He goes beyond the literal message and historical facts to help people understand the deeper spiritual meaning of Jesus himself – including his teaching, life, and miracles.

Seven statements and seven signs

John carefully selected seven statements and seven signs to answer the question, “Who is Jesus and how can we be certain that his claims are true?” These statements each begin with the declaration “I am:”

  1. “I am the bread of life” (6:35, 41, 48-51)
  2. “I am the light of the world” (8:12, 9:5)
  3. “I am the door of the sheep” (10:7, 9)
  4. “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep” (10:11,14)
  5. “I am the resurrection and the life” (11:25)
  6. “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6)
  7. “I am the true vine” (15:1,5)

In the Bible, no other person but Jesus dared to speak in this manner, not even Moses or the prophets who spoke in the name of God. Jesus claims what only God himself can claim. He is the source of life itself, and he has power not only to create, but to sustain, and restore life as well. Jesus’ “I am” statements echo the very name which God revealed to Moses in the burning bush at the foot of Mount Horeb.

Bible Truths

Verses 6-12 In John’s Gospel, the ‘world’ refers to everybody and everything that opposes God. It does not mean just the physical earth. Of course, Jesus’ disciples lived on the earth. They had physical bodies. But they did not belong to the ‘world’, because they had new spiritual life. Jesus had shown to them what God is really like. And they believed in Jesus. So they belonged to God.

While they remained in the world, they would have trouble. People opposed Jesus, so they would oppose his disciples, too. The disciples would be in much danger, just because they followed Jesus. When Jesus was on earth with them, he looked after them. For example, the Jewish leaders said that they (the disciples) were not obeying the Law. But Jesus spoke on their behalf (Matthew 12:1-8). Also he protected them spiritually. He taught them to love and to obey God. He showed to them the truth about God. They belonged to God. So, when he left the earth, Jesus trusted God to protect them. He asked that they should be in complete unity with each other. He wanted them to love each other. Then they would be strong together, although the world hated them.

‘And my disciples have brought glory to me’ (verse 10). Jesus’ disciples brought glory to him because they showed his character. They had his qualities. They behaved like he did. They loved people like he did. People knew what Jesus was like because of his disciples. All Christians should bring glory to Jesus. ‘This is the name that you have given to me’ (verse 11). Jesus, God’s Son, had the power and authority of God. The Father had given this power and authority to Jesus. This is because the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are in complete unity with each other.

‘I did not lose any of them, except for one man’ (verse 12). Jesus’ disciples belonged to him, as sheep belong to a shepherd (see John 10:14-16). Sheep can wander and they can become missing. But Jesus kept all his disciples safe. However, Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus. Judas had every opportunity to be a good disciple. However, Judas chose to leave Jesus, in order to hand Jesus over to his enemies. There was a prophecy about this (Psalm 41:9). And bad things happened to Judas (Matthew 27:3-10).

Verse 13 Although Jesus knew that his death was very near, still he talked about the complete joy that he had. And he wanted his disciples to have this joy also. Jesus had this complete joy always, because he was always in complete unity with his Father. It did not matter to Jesus that bad things would happen to him. Jesus knew that his Father loved him. Jesus knew that his Father would defeat death and the devil by means of Jesus’ own death and resurrection.

We can have this joy, too. People may hate us. But we can be sure that God loves us. We know that we are very precious to him. Bad things may happen. But we can be sure that God will look after us. He will never allow the devil to defeat us. When we depend on God in all circumstances, this joy will become real to us. We will feel it in our hearts and minds.

Verses 14-16 In John’s Gospel, the ‘world’ refers to everything and everybody that opposes God. And people who oppose God cannot belong to him. They belong to the devil, whether they realize this or not. The devil is God’s enemy. Therefore, people who belong to the devil hate Jesus. And they hate those people who belong to Jesus. That is why many people hate Christians.

But Jesus did not ask his Father to remove his disciples from the world. Instead, he asked God to protect them from the devil. Jesus’ disciples had to remain in the world, so that they could tell people about Jesus. They would spread the good news that Jesus saves people. Some people would believe in Jesus. They would accept him as their Lord and Savior. But other people would reject him. People needed to hear about Jesus, or they could not make a decision about him. Of course, the devil would attack Jesus’ disciples spiritually. But God would keep them safe.

Verses 17-19 The word ‘holy’ referred to something or somebody who was separate from other things or people. This was so that God could use the thing or the person for his special purposes. Jesus asked God to make his disciples become holy because they belonged to him.

We cannot become holy by our own efforts. We can only become holy because of what God has done on our behalf: by Jesus’ death on the cross. Holiness (a holy state) is God’s gift to us when we believe in him.

Items for Discussion

  • What are the scary parts about living in “the world” today?
  • Why do you think “the world” hates Christians?
  • God keeps us in “the world” with all of its problems and risks – why?
  • What comfort do you personally get when you read verse 15?
  • Why do you think people struggle so much with fear – is it that they do not believe God will protect them or is it that they do not believe they are worthy of God’s protection?
  • Why should we remain confident?

Discussion Challenge

  • What is the role of the Christian Church according to Christ’s words in John’s Gospel?
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