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Day 9—The Incarnation Offers Us Hope in a World of Hypocrisy

“So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” (John 10:7-18, ESV) 

This passage is one of the most beautiful pictures Jesus paints for us about why he came. I realize the imagery is largely lost on us because we are not familiar with the art and lifestyle of shepherding, but it is a beautiful picture nonetheless. He wanted us to have life—abundant life. The problem on earth was that the temple was filled with hypocrites. Instead of pointing to God, showing how people can love and trust God, and leading by example, they were putting barriers between the people and God. They were instructing his people in one way and living in another. They praised God with their lips, but their hearts were not focused on God and their lives were filled with secret sin. 

It might sound eerily familiar—we still see this today within the church. People are leaving churches in droves, or are never choosing to go because of the perceived hypocrisy—it’s so disheartening. It makes me wonder why we should even bother if people already believe us to be hypocrites. Why does it matter whether we take the implications of the incarnation seriously or not if they’ve already decided what they believe about Christians? 

Consider your atheist neighbor—is she worth the effort? Your family member who left the church years ago—is he worth the effort? What about the children and youth of our churches—are they worth it? What about you—are you worth it? I believe Jesus’s answer to all of these questions would be a resounding yes. We are worth all of the hard work of allowing Jesus’s life to transform us, to weed out our own hypocrisy, and to speak the truth in love to our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and to ourselves. Future Christians are looking to us to point to Christ and they need to see evidence of transformation in us or they will not believe God is real. We know God is real, Jesus came to demonstrate that to the world, but the responsibility lies with us to live the abundant life Jesus promised us. If we don’t live it, then we don’t believe it—that is the hypocrisy the world loves to point out. Let’s collectively choose a different path—the path Jesus laid out for us when he stepped down to earth. 

A prayer: Jesus, what a joy it is to know that you came down to earth to offer us abundant life. We believe this life is what you desire for us and we know by your example that pursuing this life brings glory to the Father. Help us to rest in the knowledge that we are your sheep, rest in the knowledge of your love, and rest in you. As we follow after you and live the abundant life you promised, remind us to keep our focus on you as our good shepherd. We love you, Lord, and we are so thankful for your example to us. Amen. 

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