Moses spoke to the LORD, saying, “Let the LORD, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the LORD may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” So the LORD said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.” (Numbers 27:15–18)
Heavenly Father, God of the spirits of all flesh, thank you for appointing Jesus over the congregation. You put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all (Eph. 1:22-23). And we praise you that he is not only head of the church, his body, but is also himself our Savior (Eph. 5:23). He loved us and gave himself up for us, that he might sanctify us, having cleansed us by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present us to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that we might be holy and without blemish (Eph. 5:25-27).
Thank you for the way Jesus goes out before us. Before we were born he was the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him (Col. 1:15-16). Before we were ever battled temptation he battled and won. Therefore we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin (Heb. 4:15). Before we face death we know that he died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, and that he has in fact been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep, and at his coming those who belong to him will rise as well (1 Cor. 15:3-4, 20, 23).
Thank you for the way Jesus comes in before us. God, in the fullness of time you sent him forth to redeem us, so that we might receive adoption as sons (Gal. 4:4-5). His coming to us is an act of your sheer grace and mercy. For in our former lives we raged against you. But you set us apart before we were born, you have called us by your grace, and you have revealed your Son to us (Gal. 1:13, 15-16). Just as you said “Let light shine out of darkness” at the beginning of creation, now you have shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Thank you, for sending him to us.
Thank you for the way that Jesus leads us out. He sends us out into this world to make disciples of all nations (Matt 28:18). Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we might present everyone mature in Christ (Col. 1:28). Woe to us if we do not preach the gospel (1 Cor. 9:16). We are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that we may proclaim the excellencies of him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light (1 Pet. 2:9). Father, while we live as sojourners and exiles in this world, keep us faithful to this mission (1 Pet. 2:11).
Gracious God, keep us full of hope for the day Jesus will bring us in to your glorious presence. He will appear, and all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other (Matt. 24:30-31). And we will stand with a great multitude that no one can number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in our hands, and cry out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9-10).
Father, we are not as sheep who have no shepherd. For Jesus is the good shepherd, and the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He knows us and we know him. We hear his voice and follow him. He gives us eternal life, and we will never perish, for no one will snatch us out of his hand. Father, you are greater than all, and no one is able to snatch us from your hand. And you and Jesus are one (John 10:11, 14, 27-30).
God, we praise you for Jesus Christ! He reigns over us. He goes out before us and comes in before us. He leads us out and he brings us in. He is our shepherd, and we will follow him and serve him forever. Amen.