“Jesus saith unto him, ‘Feed my sheep.’ ” (John 21:17).
Christ’s command to Peter is pastoral. It is given as a true shepherd. The word “pastor” and shepherd” are words that are used interchangeably and rightfully so. It describes the role of a man who is responsible for the care and feeding of sheep. God declares that He takes sole responsibility for his sheep and despite the errors of men and churches- He tends them well. “The Prince of Pastors” (1 Peter 5:4DR) gives orders to Peter and all under-shepherds to care for his flock. We will speak of this in the next article. But for now we must see that Christ is concerned for the sheep. We fail to appreciate the pastoral role of Christ as the great Pastor of the sheep (Heb. 13:20).
Christ is the shepherd that cares (1 Pet. 5:7) for us and He says, “I myself will tend my sheep and give them a place to lie down in peace, says the Sovereign LORD.” (Isa. 34:15NIV). You are his, always and he will always care for you. Rev. Barnes says, “Friends on earth, the great, the frivilous, the noble, the rich, may forget you; God never will. Remember that you will never be entirely neglected. Father, mother, neighbor, friend, those whom you have loved, and those to whom you have done good, may neglect you, but God never will. You may become poor, and they may pass by you; you may lose your office, and flatterers may no longer throng your path; your beauty may fade, and your admirers may leave you; you may grow old, and be infirm, and appear to be useless in the world, and no one may seem to care for you; but it is not thus with the God whom you serve. When he loves, he always loves.” There is none like our shepherd Jesus.
Christ is the Good Pastor-Shepherd (John 10:11). The literal rendering is, “I am the shepherd, the good one.” I like that. In the Latin Vulgate it reads, “Ego sum pastor bonus bonus pastor…” Bonus is Latin for good and the Latin Vulgate emphasizes that he is good twice. He is the very Good Shepherd, his actions are good, he went about doing good and laying down his life for his sheep was good. There are many shepherds but he is the GOOD one! The word for good here is kalos, which in ancient writings refered to outward beauty. Thus Christ’s beauty is his character and nature as our Shepherd. Of Christ, the Holy Spirit says, “thou art fairer than the children of men.” (Psalm 45:2). Who is like this Good Shepherd? His beauty is seen in his generosity, as he gives a gift that words cannot describe (1 Cor 9:15) and he gives his life. He is the apex of all that is loveable and admirable and his sheep find they are irresistibly drawn to him (John 10: 26-27).
Jesus Christ takes up his rightful role in our lives and our Guide and Guardian. God claims sole ownership and care for his flock, his church. All others who are called pastors are inferior to him. Yes, men who are pastors are gifts from the Son of God to his church (Eph 4:8) but Christ is the Chief Shepherd and the Guardian of the souls of his people (1 Pet. 2:25; 5:4). When expecting a Lion John saw a bleeding Lamb (Rev. 5:6) and when expecting a shepherd we see a leading Lamb. Even in eternity Jesus Christ is, “the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd.” (Rev. 7:17ESV). He is a Strong yet gentle Savior! But here is another proof that we are not only rescued in his grace but kept by his grace. Grace, love, mercy are not just some force, or element or virtue separate from God. It is Christ himself who in his grace, mercy and love guards and protects the souls of his flock.
Christ is always concerned with the welfare of his own people and desires to nourish their souls. That is the distinguishing mark of the Lord our Shepherd. The Bible says that, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” (Isa 40:11). Notice from that passage that Christ feeds, carries and leads his people as his vulnerable flock, his young lambs. He alone is the source of their nourishment and guidance. It says that he guides them with the wisdom of a shepherd, bearing them with his strong protective arm and gently bringing them close to his chest. Paul says, that “our life is hid with Christ in God.” (Col. 4:3).
He is the Lord is our Shepherd (Psa. 23:1). How often have we read Psalm 23 and failed to see Christ in whom all our needs are met. Christ is all (Col. 3:11), therefore all we need. God has ordained this so that as he says, “thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:14). There is none, we should not want because of him, we should want no other because of him. He makes us to rest and guides us into peace. He is the one who changes the direction of our lives into a paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even if the path leads through the valley of death’s shadow-not only the possibility but the eventuality of death, we do not need to fear because Christ bears us in his powerful hands all the way to the path of glory and heaven! Those that hate us even our enemies shall see the wonderful provision of the Lord for us, the oil of his presence in us. There will be such joy that our lives will overflow with goodness and mercy and we prepare in this life to spend eternity with our Shepherd.
© 2011 Stephen S. Gibney Soul Health Care Ministries
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