I’m leading a few Jr. High students through a writing program called Institute for Excellence in Writing. This is one of my attempts to write an essay the IEW-way. I’m definitely not used to this; it’s hard to teach an old dog new tricks!
The Resurrected Shepherd
It had been a difficult week for the disciples. They had gone from celebrating Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem to looking on in disbelief as the crowds turned hatefully against Him. They had watched Jesus sold by their friend to the authorities, suffer through a mock trial, and be beaten mercilessly. They watched Jesus die the death of a murderous criminal on a shameful cross. Their hopes were dashed. Almost unable to endure the pain of these events, the disciples were in need of loving care. How amazing that when Jesus was raised from the dead – when He had so many important, glorious things to do – that He took the time to display his love and affection for His disciples. Always caring for His sheep, He is a true shepherd. Beginning the day of His Resurrection and continuing until the time of His return to the Father, Jesus showed his lovingkindness toward His disciples in tangible ways. While on the road to Emmaus, Jesus nurtured his disciples in their faith by helping them fully understand God’s plan as laid out in scripture. When one of Jesus’ disciples, Thomas, doubted Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus reached out to him patiently. Finally, when the disciples were hungry and out fishing for dinner, Jesus appeared to them, provided more fish than they could eat, started a fire, cooked fish for them, and served dinner to them.
Jesus first revealed His love for His disciples as He helped them understand the big picture of the gospel on the Road to Emmaus. Two of the disciples traveling along this path were miserably discussing what had happened to Jesus over the past few days. Gloomily they trudged along. Closing their eyes to His identity, Jesus began to journey with them. Jesus began explaining through scripture why the Messiah had to be crucified. Beginning with Moses, and going through all the prophets, Jesus revealed God’s inspired plan through the ages. Just when the disciples’ eyes were opened and they saw in truth who Jesus was, Jesus disappeared from their sight. He had demonstrated His care for them by teaching them God’s plan of salvation through scripture.
Jesus demonstrated His care for his disciples when he handled doubting Thomas with remarkable patience. Jesus had appeared, supernaturally, in the midst of his disciples late in the day of His resurrection. They were so happy! He filled them with the Holy Spirit and sent them into the world to minister. Thomas, who had not been at this meeting, would not believe the disciples that they had seen Jesus. Stubbornly he proclaimed, “Unless I see Him myself and put my finger in His scars, I will not believe!” Eight days later, Jesus appeared again. He went directly to Thomas and told him to touch His wounds. Thomas answered, “My Lord and my God!” Lovingly looking into Thomas’s eyes, Jesus simply told him that those of us who would believe without seeing Christ face to face were even more blessed than Thomas was. Jesus demonstrated His patience and understanding by proving Himself gently to doubting Thomas.
Finally, Jesus made clear his paternal care for His disciples as He provided, cooked, and served dinner for them on the beach. Several of the disciples had been fishing for dinner but not had not yet caught anything. Jesus suddenly appeared on the beach and told them to cast the net over the other side of the boat. Immediately, Peter, who was already dressed for swimming, jumped into the water and joined Jesus on shore. The other disciples took Jesus’ fishing advice and discovered a net bursting with fish! When they rowed to shore, they found Jesus had already started the fire for cooking and was making fish for them. Jesus invited them to dinner and fed them Himself. What a servant! Jesus showed his fatherly care for the disciples by providing, cooking, and serving dinner for them.
Isn’t it wonderful that our Lord and Savior would take time after His resurrection to meet the needs of His disciples? His devoted care for them in the midst of such a gargantuan, eternal event as the Resurrection proves to us that He is always the Great Shepherd. He concerned Himself with the disciples’ theology, helping them to understand God’s gospel plan as outlined in scripture. He wasn’t offended by Thomas’ doubts but instead met Thomas with temperance and gentleness. The most heartwarming of the ways Jesus met His disciples’ needs was when He provided, cooked, and fed the disciples dinner on the beach. Jesus made obvious His affectionate thoughtfulness for His disciples in spending precious time after His resurrection meeting their weaknesses with His strength.