We are loved by a God who always keeps his promises. The Old Testament is rich with promises concerning our coming Messiah, and from the opening lines of Matthew, we begin to see those promises perfectly fulfilled, starting with the most intimate details of Jesus’ birth. Back in 2019, we invited you and your teenagers to join us for a 16-day Christmas devotional series centering around Messianic prophecies. This year we will round out that series with eight more posts, so you’ll have one for every day of the Christmas season.
We pray your heart will be encouraged and your faith strengthened as you and your teenagers meditate together on the game-changing truth that our God says what he means and means what he says. O Come Let Us Adore Him!
For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so I will seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all the places where they have been scattered… I myself will be the shepherd of the sheep… (Ezekiel 34:11-12, 15)
Remember when you were little and an adult made a promise that he or she didn’t deliver on? Your teacher promised that today the class would go to the playground and then she canceled? Perhaps your parents promised that you would get dessert that night or would go to a movie and then they couldn’t pull it off? You had eagerly anticipated it all day. Remember that frustration and disappointment? Huge bummer, right?
God’s people anticipated and banked on a major promise that the Lord had made right after the Fall. When Adam and Eve sinned, God promised that there would be One who would crush the serpent. When God made a covenant with Abraham, God promised that out of his progeny would come a seed from which innumerable people of all nations would come into fellowship with God. Through the prophet Isaiah God made many promises, particularly related to a human, divine light coming into the dark world to redeem people and the world from its sins. In Micah, God promised Israel a shepherd who would provide peace and security for God’s people. In Daniel God promised that a divine figure would come into the world to rule with righteousness.
The people of Israel waited and waited and waited, and God did not disappoint. At the core, Christmas is God making good on a promise.
In these verses from Ezekiel, God is promising his people how their Savior would relate to them; He would be a diligent Shepherd, faithfully seeking those lost to sin and brokenness. This is exactly how Jesus behaved when He walked the earth. He gathered a motley band of disciples, including a tax collector, a political zealot, and a prostitute. He traveled tirelessly on foot all over Palestine, teaching and healing and making friends, all to reconcile us to Himself.
Along the way, He repeatedly told anyone who would listen that He was the Good Shepherd they had been waiting for so long. As their Shepherd, he promised to go to extraordinary lengths to save them, even to the point of laying down His life for them (John 10:15). On the cross, the Good Shepherd became the Lamb of God, fulfilling all those promises, dying as the perfect sacrifice for their sins and ours.
Our God is a Father who will never be unable or unwilling to keep His promises to us. If facing death on a cross won’t make Him reconsider doing what He said He would do, then nothing will stop Him from keeping His Word. “God is not man, that He should lie; or a son of man, that He should change His mind” (Numbers 23:19).
Hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him. He will never lead you astray.
Questions for Reflection
- Are there promises God makes in Scripture that you find hard to believe? Why? Are there other promises God makes that you find easier to believe? Why is that?
- In Matthew 18:12-14, Jesus tells the story of a shepherd who leaves ninety-nine sheep to go in search of one sheep that has been lost. What does this parable tell you about Jesus? What does it mean to you personally?
- One of the great promises of Scripture is that God is transforming us to be like Him. (1 John 3:2) This means that one day we will be as trustworthy as He is. Do you find it hard or easy to keep your word? What does it mean to you that you will become someone who keeps every single promise you make?
Jesus, I thank You for being both my Good Shepherd and the Lamb who takes away my sin. Thank You for keeping every promise You’ve ever made in Your perfect way and in Your perfect time. This Christmas help me to keep both the manger and the cross in my heart so that I trust You more every day.
Click here for a downloadable pdf to print and share with your teenagers.
Click here for the entire series as it is posted.