26 February 1957, at Kangshan, Taiwan
Well, I want to join brother Madsen and
all the brothers and sisters who have come with me, to thank you
for this very warm welcome. When we get back to our own country
all the friends there will want to hear where we have been and who
we have met. And one thing we shall be able to say to them is,
"Everywhere we went, the Lord's children came out and met us and
gave us a very happy welcome; it did not matter what time of the
day or night it was, there they were, ready to receive us. And one
thing was common; they kept us eating all the time!" Now, like
brother Madsen, I felt very sorry for you this afternoon. If we
want to give children a special treat, we take them to see wild
animals feeding; I only hope you have had that pleasure this
Now, I must not carry on like that, we
must have something of the Lord. It is only just a few minutes
that we have with you, but when we go away, we do want that there
shall be something of the Lord left with you. So I will use the
few minutes that I have for that purpose.
I was very happy with the way that you
opened your meeting, that is, with the hymn that you sang at the
beginning. You may not remember what you have sung, but you
started the meeting with these words, "Jesus, how much Thy name
unfolds...". Now, we have just had a long conference* in Taipei and
in the evening meetings of that conference we have been thinking
about the different names of Jesus. We were able to think about
just a few of His many names. There are many names by which Jesus
is called, but we have no time to think about that now.
However, when you sang that hymn this
afternoon, another one of those names came into my mind and I
think we will just spend our few minutes with that name. You know
that Jesus goes by the name of Shepherd, He called Himself by that
name. He said, "I am the good shepherd". And then there are two
other passages in the New Testament which refer to Him as the
At the end of the letter to the Hebrews,
you have these words, "Now the God of peace who brought again from
the dead that great shepherd of the sheep..." And then at the
end of the first letter from Peter you have these words, "When the
chief shepherd shall appear...". You notice the three different
words. Jesus said, "I am the good shepherd" the other
passage speaks of Him as the great shepherd and the
third passage spoke of Him as the chief shepherd. They are
not just changes of thought, they all mean something special.
Jesus Himself explained what He meant by
calling Himself the good Shepherd. He said, "I am the good
shepherd, the good shepherd layeth down His life for the sheep."
Jesus proves Himself by being the good Shepherd laying down His
life for the sheep. That means that the sheep have had many
enemies. There are those who want to destroy the Lord's sheep.
Satan wants to destroy the Lord's sheep. Sin is a great power to
destroy the Lord's sheep. There are many things that are against
the life of the Lord's sheep and unless something is done for
them, they will be destroyed. Now, Jesus said that He did that
"something" for the sheep. He gave His life for the sheep and
because Jesus gave His life for us, we are saved, we are delivered.
That is how He proves that He is the good Shepherd.
The second passage speaks of Him as the
great Shepherd. The good Shepherd is always the great Shepherd,
and if we look at these words in Hebrews 13, you will see how He
is the great Shepherd. Let us read the passage again. This is how
it goes, "Now the God of peace who brought again from the dead
that great Shepherd of the sheep..." He is the great Shepherd
because He has triumphed over all the powers of death. The great
enemy of the Lord's sheep is death. The Bible says that the last
enemy is death. Of course, that is not only physical death, that
is also spiritual death. And this enemy is around us all the time,
trying to kill our spiritual life.
Now the great Shepherd has destroyed the
power of death. He is not only the good Shepherd who has died for
us, He is also the great Shepherd who lives for us. He said,
"Because I live, ye shall live also." That is only saying,
"Because I have overcome death, you shall overcome death also."
The Apostle Paul speaks about the raising of Jesus as the most
powerful thing that God ever did. He said that in raising Jesus
from the dead, God exercised His exceeding greatness of power. God
put forth the power which exceeds all the powers when He raised
Jesus and then the Apostle said that power is toward us who
believe. The power which lies behind the raising of Jesus from the
dead is toward us. That Jesus was raised from the dead represents a
tremendous power of God and it is that which makes Him the great
Shepherd. What a great Shepherd He is, to exercise so great power
Then Peter speaks of Him as the chief
Shepherd and you have to look again at the context. He said "when
the chief shepherd shall appear..." what is he talking about? He
speaks about the reward of the under shepherds. He is talking about
the people who are under shepherds. You see, if there is a chief
Shepherd, there must be under shepherds. He could not be the chief
Shepherd if He was the only shepherd. Therefore, He is speaking to
the under shepherds. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, He
will reward the under shepherds who have been faithful. That is an
encouragement to us in the Lord's work.
"The Lord is my shepherd," said
David. I like to think about that this way... I suppose the best
known part of the Old Testament is Psalm 23. Everybody knows the
23rd Psalm, the great shepherd psalm of David and I like to
think about it like this. David was a shepherd. We know that
from his boyhood, he was a shepherd. The first thing that we
know about David is that he was keeping his father's sheep. When
David wrote the 23rd Psalm, he was thinking about himself as a
shepherd. I think this Psalm sets forth the kind of shepherd
that David was. David was evidently a very good shepherd. He did
all these things that he puts down here. He said, "I shall not
want". Evidently, David had made it his business that his sheep
never did want anything. That is a kind shepherd, isn't it? Then
he said "He maketh me to lie down in green pastures." Evidently,
that is the thing that David had done for his sheep.
"He leadeth me in the paths of
righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the
valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art
with me in the day of trouble." David had never run away and left
his sheep. He had stayed with them through the time of difficulty.
"I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff
they comfort me." You know the difference between the rod
and staff, I believe you know what kind of staff you have on this
island. It may be the same in the Far East as in the Middle East.
If you see a shepherd with the sheep, you see that he carries many
things and among the things that he carries, is a rod and a staff.
A rod is a heavy stick with a heavy head, and he will prevent
anything that will come to the sheep, so when the enemy comes near
the sheep, the sheep would say, "Well, we need not be afraid, for
our shepherd has got that rod in his hand and he will defend us
against the enemy." And another thing that the shepherd had was
the staff, and if the sheep should slip over a rock or get
into any difficulty, then the shepherd pushed down his long staff
and pulled him back again. And the sheep would say if he got into
any trouble, "The shepherd will get me out, for his rod and his
staff they comfort me."
"Thou preparest a table before me in the
presence of mine enemies; thou anointest my head with oil."
Another thing that the shepherd carried was a horn of oil. The
sheep always have a way of getting their head into trouble, or the
sheep would get tired and when they did so, the shepherd used his
horn of oil to pour some healing or refreshing oil on their head.
"Thou anointest my head with oil... surely goodness and mercy shall
follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house
of the Lord forever." Now that was the kind of shepherd that David
was. And then he said, "The Lord is my Shepherd just like that; He
is my Shepherd. All that I would do for my natural sheep, He will
do for His spiritual sheep."
I expect you wonder what those
words mean, "Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the
days of my life." That is not easy to understand. But I can
explain it to you. You know that the shepherds in the East are
always thinking that there are unseen people following them. You
know some people out there are so superstitious that they think
there are unseen things following them. For instance, if you
will go to the Middle East near Palestine, the man who goes out
in his boat always pushes the boat forward instead of following
it. That is, they always face the way they are going because
they are afraid of the evil spirits and they always have someone
at the boat watching them so that the evil spirit will not come
to them without being seen. They are afraid of evil spirits.
Well, of course there is this here. Now that was true in the
life of David. Men were terribly afraid of evil spirits coming
after them, but David changed the picture and he said there were
two good angels following him. The name of one angel was
Goodness and the name of the other angel was Mercy. "Goodness
and Mercy shall follow me all the days of my life. No evil power
will be able to touch me, for God will give His angels charge
over me. I need not fear. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow
me all the days of my life. And this good Shepherd will prove
how good He is by bringing me to His house forever."
The hymn, "Jesus, how much Thy name
unfolds..." which you sang this afternoon. What a lot there is in
the name of Jesus, the good Shepherd, the great Shepherd, the
chief Shepherd; so then go away saying, "The Lord is my Shepherd."
note: this Taipei conference is available on the website in both audio
and written form as "The Persistent Purpose of God".