The story is told of a fellow, let’s call him Joe, who had such an engaging, magnetic personality it seemed everyone was his friend. Everywhere he went, people would see him and excitedly call out, “Hi, Joe!” “How are you doing, Joe?”
One day Joe and several friends decided to tour some countries in Europe, and one of the places they chose to visit was Vatican City. On the day they arrived, the Pope was making a public appearance. The friends were standing among the throng of thousands in St. Peter’s Square waiting for the Pope to appear and address them. Suddenly uniformed men approached Joe, spoke with him briefly, and then led him away.
Joe’s friends looked at each other wondering what had happened, whether Joe was in some kind of trouble.
A few minutes later the Pope appeared on the balcony accompanied by another man. A peasant in the crowd looked up, pointed, and said, “Hey, who’s that up there with Joe?”
Silly story? Sure. But wouldn’t it be something to be known like that? To be instantly recognized and welcomed, whether by someone like the Pope, the President of the United States, a mega-wealthy businessperson like Bill Gates, Warren Buffett or Oprah Winfrey, or perhaps your favorite athlete or entertainer?
You go to a ball game and Lebron James spots you in the crowd, smiles and waves you down to the court. Or you’re standing alongside the red carpet prior to the Academy Awards, and Tom Hanks, Sandra Bullock or Morgan Freeman points to you, strides over and gives you one of those big, longtime-no-see hugs. Your friends standing nearby can only let their jaws drop and stare. Wouldn’t that be something?
You’re probably thinking, “In your dreams!” But there’s something even better. Much better.
If you’re a Christ follower, the Bible declares He knows you – and as with Joe in the story above, He knows you by name. Jesus used the metaphor of sheep to describe His relationship with His followers:
“The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep…the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice…. I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me” (John 10:2-14).
Knowing the President personally, whether you’re in agreement politically or not, would be impressive, wouldn’t it? If you went to a concert by an iconic musician like James Taylor, Steve Wonder or Eric Clapton, and you received first-class treatment just because they knew you, that would be incredible, right?
Well, consider that God, the Creator of the universe knows you in that way. Even with the billions of people in the world, not to mention those who have died, He knows you – by name. Not only that, but the Scriptures state He did something unbelievable, unprecedented, for each of His children. After declaring, “I know my sheep and they know me,” Jesus adds, “just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:15).
Even if I knew the President personally, or a famous actor or athlete, none of them could claim they had given their life on my behalf. Jesus makes that startling, bold, even audacious claim – and the Bible teaches us that it’s true. It’s not a myth, fairy tale or allegory, but truth supported by the witness of history, as well as countless lives that have been transformed as a result.
In spite of our warts, our flaws, our sins, the Lord of all eternity knows us – and He’s not ashamed to admit it. Now that’s amazing. We might even call it…amazing grace.
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Robert J. Tamasy is a veteran journalist, a former newspaper editor and magazine editor. He is presently vice president of communications for Leaders Legacy, Inc., a non-profit focused on mentoring and coaching business and professional leaders. Bob has written hundreds of magazine articles, and has authored, co-authored and edited more than 15 books. These include “Tufting Legacies,” “The Heart of Mentoring,” “Business at Its Best,” and “Pursuing Life With a Shepherd’s Heart.” He edits a weekly business meditation, “Monday Manna,” which is translated into more than 20 languages and distributed via email around the world by CBMC International. He also posts regularly on two blogs, www.bobtamasy.blogspot.com, and www.bobtamasy.wordpress.com. He can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.