As I mentioned last week we don’t think very much about sheep in this day and age and it’s logical that we think little about shepherds. The role of a shepherd has changed in this modern day and it doesn’t have the same meaning it had in biblical times. The work of a shepherd still exists today in areas of the world and people still care for sheep in the way that the scripture describes for us.
Let’s take a look at why the role of shepherd is important today for those of us that call ourselves Christians. The word shepherd quite obviously comes from the joining of the two words sheep and herd. So a shepherd is one who herds sheep. It can also mean pastor or one that works in the “pastures”.
1 Samuel 16:11 And Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all the young men here?” Then he said, “There remains yet the youngest, and there he is, keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him. For we will not sit down till he comes here.”
Isn’t it interesting that David was a shepherd, the man after God’s own heart and would be the first acceptable King, started as a lowly shepherd. We also see that Abraham, Moses, Jacob all were shepherds. Jesus described Himself as the “Good Shepherd” that lays down His life for His sheep. The metaphorical use of shepherding and the important role of shepherds are as significant for us today as it was in the times of Christ.
We can see that God uses the lowly to reveal His greatness. Shepherds were considered the bottom rung of society, shepherding was not a glamorous job. It was a 24 hour a day, 7 days a week job. Sheep never stop being sheep. They need constant care and watching over. We saw in the article about sheep that they need constant watch because there is so much danger for them. They easily contract illness and cuts which can cause disease. They are very susceptible to attack from predators.
So you might say, “Well this is moderately interesting but how does it affect us today?”
There is a tremendous amount of New Testament application to the role of being a shepherd, but for the sake of this article, being shepherded. What does it mean to be shepherded by those called to be shepherds?
Ephesians 4:11-12 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ…
As established above the word pastor here is the same word as shepherd (poimēn) which means literally or figuratively to be a shepherd or a pastor. We can see that Christ Himself has appointed men in your life to be your pastor, for what purpose…for the purpose of equipping you for the work of ministry and the edifying of the body.
This really is the primary purpose of the church and the work of those that are in ministry as pastors and elders. It’s not to stand on the stage and give you a pep talk about life, or provide you with a motivational speech to keep you going until next week.
The pastors job is bring the weight of scripture to bear upon your life. That you would be edified and equipped for the work God has for you. Not to fill the seats with his wonderful charm and quick-wit.
The shepherd will do the unpopular things to keep his sheep healthy. He will pin them down and pull bot flies out of their infected flesh. Doesn’t this make the 23rd Psalm come to life?
“He makes me to lie down in green pastures…” Just think about this for a moment, it’s not your own desire to lie down in a green pasture, you must be made to do it.
“He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” If you are a child of the King you will be led on the path of righteousness, for His name’s sake.
“Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.” Sometimes the shepherd must use the rod to correct, even when it’s unpopular.
1 Peter 5:2-4 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.
What an overwhelming charge give to those that Christ has appointed. They are told to be examples and overseers. They are accountable for souls, and we generally just want to be sheep, right? We desire our own way, and we might want some accountability, but not too much.
Hebrews 13:17 Obey those who rule over you, and be submissive, for they watch out for your souls, as those who must give account. Let them do so with joy and not with grief, for that would be unprofitable for you.
Here is a charge to us sheep. We are to willingly place ourselves under the authority of our shepherds, as we willingly place ourselves under the authority of Christ. We have established earlier by looking at Ephesians 4:11 that Christ Himself has placed those shepherds and now we must obey and be submissive.
Because it is profitable for us! Doesn’t it make sense that when sheep have illness and disease and the shepherd digs out the nasty infection that can kill his sheep; that is profitable for that sheep? Do we make that connection? Have you considered the last time you fought against God’s desire for your life and you refused to obey or submit? If your shepherd was faithful in his calling, he did his job.
Did you fulfill your requirement?
May we humble ourselves today, for the plan God has put in place for the profit of His people.