The Good ShepherdAuthor: Esaú Crespo
A superficial review of a bible concordance shows us the different meanings the word "shepherd" has in the Bible. When this word appears in the book of Genesis, it refers to Abel's occupation, that is to say, someone who takes care of sheep. This is the most frequent meaning found in almost all the stories of the Bible. Nevertheless, when we read the prophetic scriptures, the word is referring to the one in charge of leading the people of Israel. This last sense is applied to Israel's priests, kings and prophets.
In the New Testament the word has to do with men God calls to be responsible for taking care of the different groups of believers that make up the local churches. This word has acquired such glorious meaning that the Lord Jesus ascribed it to himself as well as his magnificent ministry. In this passage, the sacred author is referring obviously to the Lord Jesus, but the principles established there apply to all those men God calls to be responsible before Him and provide protection to the believers. Let us learn what the Bible says about shepherds:
I. The Good Shepherd is a Man of God. (V. 2-4)
No one can be a church leader, the "shepherd", without having a personal encounter with the Lord.
- "Enters by the gate" (v. 2) which is Christ. (v. 7)
Those of us in leadership roles have experienced a total surrender to Christ through faith. I was 15 years old when in a rural community, on a stormy friday night, I heard a sermon based on Acts 16:31 and I felt in my heart the need to receive Christ as my personal Savior and absolute Lord of my life. From that moment, my life was transformed and later on the Lord called me into the pastorate to lead different groups of believers. I'm not a perfect servant but the Lord has had mercy and by His grace I'm leading a local church. Why? Because I had a personal encounter with the Lord.
- Worthy of God's trust. (v. 3)
There is a communion between the Lord and the shepherd based on God's faithfulness. There is an intimate friendship. There is a beautiful fellowship where God personally reveals himself to his friend through the scriptures and each day the shepherd communicates with his Savior through prayer.
II. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (v. 11)
As we all know, Christ demonstrated his love for sinners by giving his life on the cross. In the same way, the good shepherd is capable of giving his life for his sheep.
I would like to share with you a beautiful and moving story from the civil war, here in El Salvador. In 1981, the war was expanding throughout the country and the government organized civil defense forces to serve as paramilitary groups. In a rural community, the order arrived to form paramilitary groups. The man responsible had no respect for the members of a local church and forced the deacons as well as the young people to pick up a weapon and receive military training. The pastor of that congregation was an old man. He grabbed his Bible and went out to console the church members who were armed, in uniform and already being trained. The deacon leader stopped his military training and spoke these words: "Pastor, we ask you to leave, we don't want you to die with us. Please leave us!" The pastor started to cry and said: "Children, do not ask me to leave you. Bring me a weapon instead so I can fight with all of you, that way we all die together!" That man was a good shepherd!
III. The Good Shepherd knows the condition of his sheep. (v. 14)
IV. The Good Shepherd finds his lost sheep. (v. 16)
V. The Good Shepherd is loved by God. (v. 14)
God has faithful promises for all good shepherds who love the Lord so much that they give their all tending God's flock. God shall pour forth many blessings over those churches where the pastor tenderly ministers his members, members love and respect their pastor and together they carry out the work of the Prince of all Shepherds!
VI. The Good Shepherd needs the support of his sheep.
- The sheep listen to his voice (v. 3)
In this passage, the word shepherd means prophet. Deuteronomy 18 is a prophecy of the coming of Christ but the principle behind it is that the members who do not obey their shepherd will be held accountable before God.
We live under the dispensation of God's grace. In no time in human history has there ever been so many spiritual blessings as there are now. We have so many Bible versions and translations, many Bible study aids, many electronic resources that make it easier to carry out God's work, but with great privileges come great responsibilities. If we are not faithful with the blessings God has given us, we will pay a high price for not appreciating them. Pastors are a blessing of God and we must esteem them very highly because the Bible says they keep watch for our souls as they must give account before God for their ministry.
- They follow him. (v. 4)
When the pastor says: "Brothers, let us do God's work".
The church must answer: "Yes pastor, Let us do it"
- The follow him because they know his voice. (v. 14)
Dear reader, do you know your pastor's needs? Do you know about the difficulties he, who has dedicated his life to God's work, is going through? Do you support him for his hard work, dedication, giving him words of encouragement or perhaps inviting him over to dinner when appropriate? Love your pastor and God will bless you abundantly.
The Lord has left pastors so they can nourish His sheep with the word of God. He has left them in charge to watch over their souls with a timely advice, a prayer and a good example. These are the good shepherds. The ones who imitate the glorious shepherd of them all, our Lord Jesus Christ. All church members must love their pastor, respect him and support him so the Lord himself can bless us abundantly. Amen.