God’s Shepherding Care for His People
1 Peter 5:1-4
January 19, 2020
My grandfather was a farmer. He emigrated to Canada from Russia in the early 1920s and was a very successful farmer. As a young boy, I remember going out to the fields with him on his tractor and picking up rocks and other impediments from the field for him. He had all the cool farm implements and I loved to go to his barn and crawl all over his tractors and pretend to drive them. I remember the mixed odor of oil, fuel, and hay in that barn; I loved that smell. And I am particularly scarred by the memory of one particular chicken slaughtering day — the sight of a headless chicken running around the barn is not something that is easily erased from one’s memory!
My grandfather was a farmer. He probably would be at least a little disappointed to know just what a city-slicker I am. I might live in a small county 45 minutes outside a big city, but I’m still a city slicker.
My grandfather was a farmer. My Father is a Shepherd. He’s a magnificent Shepherd. In fact, He is the Great Shepherd. There is no Shepherd like my Father. He understands sheep — especially His sheep. He is wise in finding them when they wander; He is powerful to protect them when they are attacked (He has never lost any of His sheep); He is patient with them when they do silly and sinful things. I speak, of course, of God, our Father in Heaven, the Omnipotent of the universe, and the Shepherd of His sheep.
Isn’t it interesting that while shepherds were despised people in Israel — perpetually unclean (both physically and ceremonially), generally uneducated, and at the bottom of the socio-economic scale — God identified Himself as a Shepherd. As far back as Joseph’s story (Gen. 48:15), God is identified as shepherd.
What does a shepherd do? The shepherd protected the sheep (Num. 27:17; Is. 31:4); the shepherd leads the sheep (2 Sam. 5:2; Ps. 80:1); the shepherd is the master of the sheep (1 Kings 22:17); the shepherd provides for the sheep (Ps. 23:1); the shepherd nurtures and feeds the sheep (Ps. 28:9; Is. 40:11; Jer. 3:15; Jn. 21:15-18); the shepherd is compassionate toward the sheep (Mt. 9:36). Shepherds who don’t do that are unfaithful and condemned (Is. 56:11; Jer. 10:21; 12:10; 23:1ff; Ezk. 34:2ff).
Then, when God explained how to others were to care for His people, He also picked the imagery of shepherds. It was the imagery He used for King David to lead Israel (2 Sam. 5:2; Ps. 78:72), and it was the imagery He used of the spiritual leaders of Israel (1 Chron. 17:6; Jer. 3:15). And it is the imagery He uses for those who will lead His church. How do you care for God’s people? How do you disciple and train and equip people to follow God? You care for them in the same way that a shepherd cares for his sheep.
This morning we continue thinking about spiritual disciplines in the New Year. We’ve talked about Scripture, prayer, and evangelism. Today we talk about the church and the role the church has in caring for the people entrusted to it. It’s appropriate for us (at GBC) to think about this today, particularly because we have just affirmed men to serve as our elders and deacons. At the end of the service we will pray for them and over them, thanking God for them and asking God to equip them to serve us and lead us well.
As we move towards that prayer, we want to look at one passage that will instruct us about the role of shepherds and elders. What are they and what do they do?
The apostle Peter may have been a fisherman by trade, but he was a shepherd by the appointment of Christ. Peter tells us about the spiritual care of God’s people through the role of shepherds. From him we learn:
God cares for His people through the loving care of His shepherd-elders.
As we think about this shepherding role, we will see three aspects of the shepherd’s life; what are these shepherds who are our elders to be like? Let’s consider their duty, motives, and reward:
- The Shepherd’s Duty (vv. 1-2a)
- Shepherding is a divine responsibility
- Shepherding is a mutual responsibility
- Shepherding is a caring responsibility
- The Shepherd’s Motives (vv. 2b-3)
- A shepherd is a volunteer
- A shepherd is sacrificial
- A shepherd is exemplary
- The Shepherd’s Reward (v. 4)
Download the rest of this sermon on 1 Peter 5:1-4.
The audio will be posted on the GBC website by tomorrow.