The Good Shepherd(s)

We’re constantly dealing with and engaged with leaders.

If you’re a kid, you listen to your teachers and coaches. If you’re an adult, you listen to your bosses. And as citizens of the United States, we all follow our governments at the city, state and national levels.

Some leaders are better than others. We may respect a certain teacher, coach, boss or politician more than others. Then there are those in leadership positions who we feel just aren’t good leaders.

On Sunday, we talked about a section from the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 23:1-6). He talks about good and bad leaders in God’s Kingdom. He first addresses the bad shepherds, “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture! Declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:1). But he goes on, “I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing, declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:4).

Here, we see that there will be both good and bad shepherds, and we see that in the history of Israel. There were the good shepherds like David, Solomon and King Josiah, and the bad ones like King Ahab and Jehoiakim.

David, Solomon and King Josiah were good because they brought the people God’s Word. King Ahab and Jehoiakim were bad because they hindered God’s Word and even tried to destroy it.

And this is how we should judge our under-shepherds today – do they preach God’s Word?

But is this how we always view our pastors and leaders of the church? Or do we allow earthly items to cloud our judgment? Why doesn’t my pastor conduct worship this way? Why does pastor spend so much time on outreach and not more time with the members? Why isn’t my pastor more engaging to listen to?

Too often, we judge God’s messengers by our own opinions and preferences and not whether or not they’re bringing us God’s Word. When we do this, we deserve to be cut off from God and his Word forever.

But thankfully this isn’t what God does. Instead, he sent us the Good Shepherd as Jeremiah prophesies, “The days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land” (Jeremiah 23:5).

We see the fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophesy in Jesus, who is our Good Shepherd (John 10:14). It is Jesus, the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for us to pay for our sins, who daily cares for and provides for us, who doesn’t cut us off, but lovingly brings us into his flock.

And now God blesses us with good under-shepherds who tell us about Jesus and what he’s done for us. What a blessing!

Now, there isn’t a perfect under-shepherd and never will be. Under-shepherds are sinful too.

But that doesn’t mean we judge them based on our own preferences and opinions.

Rather, we thank God for sending us people to tell us about Jesus. We thank God for allowing us to hear the truth about our Good Shepherd.

Lord’s blessings on the rest of your week,

Daniel Kock