THE GOOD SHEPHERD #10 THE CHIEF SHEPHERD
Blistering Words from Jesus
Shepherding has always been a problem among God's people. Prior to Jesus, those charged with leading the people of God tended to forget they were under one greater than themselves. When Jesus was here, He severely indicted the religious leaders of the people. His scathing remarks confirm the mind of the Lord toward those who are unfaithful as leaders. Think of His words; "they say and do not" . . . "they bind heavy burdens" . . . "they love the uppermost rooms . . . and the chief seats, and greetings in the markets" . . . "ye shut up the kingdom of heaven against men" . . . "Hypocrites" . . . "ye devour widows houses" . . . "for pretense make long prayers" . . . "blind guides" . . . "fools and blind" . . . "you have omitted the weightier matters" . . . "you strain at a gnat and swallow a camel" . . . "you make clean the outside of the cup . . . but within are full of extortion and excess" . . . "whited sepulchres" . . . you appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness" . . . "you outwardly appear righteous, but within ye are full of hypocrisy and iniquity" . . . "you are the children of them which killed the prophets" . . . "you serpents, you generation of vipers, how can you escape the damnation of hell" (Matt 23:14- 33).
Jesus Is Speaking In Character
For some, it is difficult to conceive of the Lord Jesus speaking so harshly. These are the words of the "chief Shepherd." He is speaking to those that have abused, robbed, and deceived His sheep. These leaders were taking the sheep into the ditch, not on the highway raised up by God (Isa 35:8). These men probably did not appear to others as they did to Jesus -- but that was only because their condition was not evident. The Lord Jesus was looking upon their hearts, and they were corrupt. As the "chief Shepherd," He had a keen interest in the sheep, and these men had handicapped them.
Remember the Chief Shepherd
Peter reminds leaders in the body of Christ of the "chief Shepherd." He speaks to encourage them to seek His approbation instead of His denunciation. "Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed, shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away" (1 Pet 5:1-4, NASB). Peter speaks as one that saw Christ suffer for the sins of the world. He knew that Jesus suffered out of an interest for the sheep, to retrieve them from the power of the enemy, and reconcile them to God. Peter also addressed his fellow elders as one that had participated in the glory that was yet to be revealed. He was not giving them an isolated opinion, or making novel conversation. Every leader of the people of God does well to give close heed to the words of this aged Apostle. It would not be long until he would put off his earthly tabernacle. He was not writing to advance his career, or to exalt himself among men.
Feed the Flock!
"Shepherd (feed, KJV) the flock of God among you!" He surely recalled the words of the Lord Jesus to him on the sea shore: "Feed My lambs . . . Feed my sheep . . . Feed my sheep" (John 21:15-17). I have often wondered why this has not been called "the great commission." It certainly is the key to the fulfillment of what is commonly so identified. Yet, it appears to be the most neglected aspect of the organized church.
A Kingdom Priority
The spiritual feeding of the people of God is a kingdom priority. As "strangers and pilgrims" in the earth, they stand in need of daily sustenance. This world's manners and fashion constitute a drag upon the spirits of the saved. Their spiritual energies are depleted by their exposure to the realm of death. Having been raised up and made to sit together with Christ in heavenly places, they have a large capacity for the truth. The "Chief Shepherd" commands, "Feed My sheep!" "Feed My lambs." His words are to be taken seriously. Jesus gave no commandment to entertain His sheep, He said to "feed" them!
Notice the seriousness
Notice the gravity of Peter's counsel to "the elders." He speaks as a representative of the "chief Shepherd." "Shepherd the flock of God among you, exercising oversight not under compulsion, but voluntarily, according to the will of God; and not for sordid gain, but with eagerness; nor yet as lording it over those allotted to your charge, but proving to be examples to the flock."
--TOMORROW: FOR THE UNDER-SHEPHERDS --