“Then Jesus told them, ‘This very night, you will all fall away on account of me, for it is written: I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered. But after I have risen, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’” (Matthew 26:31-32).

“Struck,” but Shepherd still. Strokes do not change character. The Shepherd was not deposed from His tender function; He was scourged, struck, oppressed, and grievously tormented, but He was still a Shepherd. “Scattered,” but still the sheep of the flock. Understand that circumstances do not make or unmake you. You are not a Christian because you are comfortable; you are not a sheep of the flock because you are enfolded upon high mountains and preserved from the ravenous beast. Sometimes the flock is scattered; sometimes the Shepherd is struck; but the Shepherd is still the Shepherd, the flock is still the flock, and the tender relation between the two is undisturbed and indestructible.

If I were a Christian only on my good behavior, woe is me. If I belong to the flock only because of the day’s calm or the richness of the pasture and because of the abundance of all I need, my Christianity is no faith at all. It is a thing of circumstances, subject to climatic changes. Any number of accidents may come down upon it and utterly alter its quality and its vital relations. I stand in Christ; I am redeemed with blood; the work is done; when sin abounds, grace does much more abound. The Church was just as much a church when she was in dens and in caves of the earth, destitute, tormented, afflicted, as when she roofed herself with lovely vaulted ceilings and rare lights. Our election and standing are of God and are not tossed about, varied and rendered uncertain, by the tumultuous accidents of time. It is the Shepherd who is calm, though He is going to be struck. He has the confidence of the written Word to stand upon. This is not something unexpected or unforeseen: An ancient prophecy is about to be fulfilled but after that, He points the flock to the broad morning of resurrection and infinite joy.

Adapted from In His Presence