I was tagged by Bryan at “Charis Shalom” to post five things I dig about Jesus. I enjoyed thinking through my five things so much that I decided to blog about each one. The second thing that I “dig” about Jesus is that he is the Great Shepherd – or, as I like to translate it, the Senior Pastor.
Jesus called himself the “good shepherd” (John 10:11, 14). The author of Hebrews called Jesus the “great shepherd of the sheep” (Heb 13:20). Peter called Jesus the “shepherd and overseer (pastor and bishop) of your souls” (1 Pet 2:25) and “the chief shepherd (senior pastor)”. (1 Pet 5:4) What does it mean for Jesus to be our shepherd?
In John 10:11-13, the good shepherd is the one who lays down his life for his flock. While this points to Jesus’ death, it points to much, much more. Notice that in the picture of the “hireling”, the hireling runs away when the wolf attacks the sheep. But, the good shepherd does not run away. Instead, he gives his life in order to protect the sheep. This is the picture of Jesus’ death that we need to keep in mind. Jesus, the good shepherd, died protecting his sheep – that’s us. There was real danger in our lives, but the good shepherd died protecting us and destroying the threat.
In Hebrews 13:20, the great shepherd is the one who died but was raised from the dead in completion of his work on earth. This is then tied back to our perfection. (Heb 13:21) Because God was able to raise our great shepherd from the dead thus perfecting his work on earth, God is also able to perfect us in good works. The resurrection is not simply an historic event (though it is an historic event). The resurrection is a present reality in the lives of believers. The resurrected great shepherd leads us toward perfection through his Spirit.
In 1 Peter 2:25, the shepherd and overseer of our souls is the one who gathered us to himself. He sought out each lost sheep until he was able to carry that sheep back into his fold. He continues to care for those sheep teaching them how they might “die to sin and live to righteousness”. (1 Pet 2:24) This is a shepherd and overseer who is active and powerful and able and personal and working and caring and energetic and listening and forceful and loving. We all strayed from God, but our shepherd and overseer has returned us to our fold and keeps us there in his care.
In 1 Peter 5:4, the chief shepherd (senior pastor) is the one who is physically returning to his sheep. Currently, he shepherds us through his Spirit; then he will shepherd us in our physical resurrection reality. He is also the model for other believers, teaching us how to live a life surrendered to the will of God as an example to others. His return is our hope in times of discouragement and our joy in times of trial.
This is our Great Shepherd! He is the one shepherd over his one flock (John 10:16; cf. Ecc 12:11; Ezek 34:23; 37:24; ) – the head of the church. He is real, living, present, and able to lead his sheep.