Where Jesus is the Shepherd

By Dr Karo Ogbinaka

‘Shepherd’ and ‘Flock’ are common words among Christians. Jesus is variously called as the ‘Great Shepherding of the Flock’ (Hebrew 13:20), and the ‘Chief Shepherd’ (1 Peter 5:4). Invariably, all Christians are His flock. As imitators of Christ, the Christian leadership is called to the ministry of shepherding. Against this background, Peter wrote to the elders – calling them fellow elders and partaker of the glory that will be revealed – to “shepherd the flock” or feed the flock.

Shepherding the flock is dear to the heart of Jesus Christ. “And Jesus, when He came out, saw a great multitude and was moved with compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd. So he began to teach them many things” (Mark 6:34). Also, “And when they had eaten breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, ‘Simon, son of Jonah do you love Me more than these?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Feed My lambs! He said to him again a second time, ‘Simon, son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ He said to Him, ‘Yes Lord; You know I love You.’ He said to him, ‘Tend my sheep.’

He said to him the third time, ‘Simon son of Jonah, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to
him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Feed My sheep.’ Feed My Lamb, Tend My Sheep and Feed My Sheep was the charge of Jesus Christ to Peter if he [Peter] loves Him.

Today, Jesus is asking us thrice if we ‘love Him. Christ was first our Shepherd before He tasked the leadership of the Church to shepherd others. Psalm 23 proclaimed that: “The Lord is My Shepherd!” What are the implication of being a shepherd for the flock? 1 Peter 5: 2 – 3 gives us the answers. Feed, do not fleece
the flock of God.

Take oversight of the flock of God. Serve God and His flock willingly. Serve readily, not for personal gain. Do not be a lord over God’s heritage. Be a good examples to the flock of God.

Christian leaders are is expected to do this because their reward will come from Jesus Christ who is the Chief Shepherd. Peter says, He will give us “the crown of glory that does not fade away.” Shepherding implies more than the provision of food and grass for the flock. In Mark 6:34, we are told that Jesus was moved with
compassion for them, because they were like sheep not having a shepherd, so He began to teach them many things. Jesus did not begin to give them plenty food for them to eat.

The Psalmist says: “My soul faints for Your salvation, but I hope in Your word.”

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“My eyes fail from searching Your word, saying when will you comfort me?” Psalm 119:81-82. The comfort that the flock receives flows from the word, statutes, commandments and ordinances of God. Without the ‘Word,’ there is no world for the sheep. The apostles fed the early church with the word (i.e. the Gospel).

They resisted all distractions that were poised against the word of God. “It is not desirable that we should leave the word of God and serve tables” (Acts 6:2). “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.

But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41). The shepherd must care for the sheep with humility (Matthew 18:1ff). The shepherd must also seek the lost sheep, even if it were one (Matthew 18:12).

The shepherd should protects (Psalm 118:6). He should a confidence giver to the flock, and he is to be trusted by the flock (Psalm 118:8). The shepherd must put away evil and the enemy from the flock (Psalm 118:11). The shepherd must make the sheep fruitful (Matthew 28:19). “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…
baptizing them … and teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” Consequently, he that shepherds must imitate the Great and Good Shepherd who is Christ Jesus, the Lord and saviour.

We are being reached to be shepherds in the church? Where is our flock? Are there no lost sheep in our neighbourhood? Are we not moved with compassion, seeing the lost, the hungry, the sick, the desolate, and the bereaved? Do we love Jesus? Christ is today asking us: Do you love Me? If we say YES, as Peter answered, Jesus is then charging us thus: Feed My Lamb! Tend My sheep!! Feed My Sheep!!! Shalom and be blessed.

The Rev’d Dr Karo Ogbinaka, an Anglican priest of the Diocese of Lagos West, lectures at the Department of Philosophy, University of Lagos. He is a member of the editorial board of The Trumpet.

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