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A major reason churches fail to trust or follow their shepherds — or identify them as legitimately from Jesus, is bc they are ignorant of their job description – or more accurately, the job description they possess for that position in the church, does not agree with Scripture.

BC I want to avoid that pitfall in this church, this morning we are going to discover and be reminded of what God says about this subject or, What you should expect if your church truly possesses a shepherd from Jesus

 

1. They wb IMITATORS:

Jesus the Great Shepherd (Heb 13:20) promised to give Jesus-imitating shepherds as a gift to His people and primary caretakers of His body, the church, while He is in heaven. (Jer 3:15a “I will give you shepherds after my own heart”) = Shepherds w/the same heart (likes/dislikes, affections, agenda and desires) as Jesus (i.e., sheps who are imitators of Jesus in their shepherding). It’s fulfillment: (Eph 4:8 w/11 [“pastors” = shepherds] w/12 [“equipping…building up” = A caretaker]). POINTS NOT TO MISS: 1) If Jesus gave these kind of shepherds to His church, then it must not only be possible, but what we should expect and believe wb true of our shepherds. Hence the reason (Mat 10:40). 2) All of us need to possess a healthy level of skepticism, but skepticism that persists even when the evidence says otherwise is not healthy nor safe. It is pathological and rebellious unbelief (not against me –BUT GOD). Scripture to keep in mind (1Co 4:5 When the Lord comes He will “bring to light the things hidden in darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts” – i.e., no plausible deniability before God).

2. They wb EDUCATORS:

Central to their role as Jesus imitators, these shepherds will spend copious amounts of time educating their people in God’s Word since this is the key to trusting God. (Jer 3:15 [Eph 4:14 = Education/understanding of God’s Word/doctrine wb how the shepherds shore up instability/distrust; Pro 22:17-19) = Trust is the by-product of education; Education is the key to trust (not entertainment/manipulation of the emotions [e.g., the “sermons” in most churches]). The piece that makes this a little bit of “sticky wicket” = Retainage requires repetition—which means if the only time you ever hear what I preach on Sunday is (on Sunday) then what you retain wb very little (20-30% at best). Which means though I am doing the job of an educator, you are failing to do your job as a learner (i.e., to study the lecture, to go over and over it until you retain it or know it). This btw the way is what the Proverbs are talking about when it says, “seek understanding” – understanding is learning—AND learning requires repetition or study to retain the material. Are you doing that —or do you think you have more important things to do? Remember: this is the key to trust (and the reason so many of you still struggle w/trust) –B/C you are uneducated (and you are uneducated) bc you care more about spending your time being entertained than being educated (learning or studying what is given to you every week [you trade the steak dinner for terd rolled in sugar]).

3. They wb OBSESSORS:

Because obedience is so important and empiricism (truth/morality, actions/speech det’d by feelings) so dangerous, Jesus’s shepherds become obsessed with making sure their people are growing in faithfulness to God’s laws while faithfully ignoring their feelings as their guide to truth. (This was Peter as witnessed in his second epistle; in re: to obedience or faithfulness, 2Pe 1:5-13; in re: to empiricism or truth/morality, actions/ speech det’d by feelings, 2Pe 2:1-2 “sensuality” = Empiricism [2:18]; See also 2:7 “unprincipled men” = People w/o laws governing them [instead it is their feelings – “sensual conduct”], 2:10 “indulge in the flesh” = “despise authority”; Empiricism [truth/morality, actions/speech determined by our feelings versus God’s Law] is at the heart of the faith- alone false gospel [2:18-20 “promising them freedom” = Freedom from God’s law – that which keeps us from corrupting and defiling ourselves).

4. They wb ENFORCERS:

Like Jesus, these shepherds will be incorruptible and unfaltering in their use of authority to secure justice in the covenant community. (Isa 42:1-4): “My Servant…My chosen One…I have put my Spirit [mantle of authority] upon Him” = A reference to Messiah. He wb characterized by two things: 1) The justice He secures will never mistreat or abuse those under it or fail to provide the tools necessary for the repentant sinner to be restored (They wb incorruptible). (1-2, “He will bring forth justice to the nations [In doing so] He will not cry or raise His voice, Nor make His voice heard in the street [the idea of chaos or disturbance caused by the malpractice or abuse of those in authority]”) w/(3, “A bruised reed…a dimly burning wick [the repentant sinner] He will not break…extinguish [destroy or leave w/o the hope of future restoration]”). IOW: His actions will establish equity in the covenant community. 2) The taunting or condemnation of the wicked and ignorant, or the obstacles they present will not intimidate or stop Him from securing justice in the covenant community (THEY WB unfaltering) (4). Jesus-imitating shepherds will (because of such imitation) be characterized by the same two things: they too will be incorruptible (no malpractice/no abuse) and unfaltering (never intimidated or discouraged) in their use of authority to secure justice.

In addition to what has already been said, it sb noted that the securing justice for the covenant community also requires a staunch rejection of empiricism (i.e., judgments based on feelings). This too is picked in the picture painted by the prophet w/respect to the coming Messiah (Isa 11:1-5) “He will not judge by what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His ears hear, But with righteousness He will judge…” = Don’t miss the contrast being made by Isaiah between judgment that takes place by way of the senses (what the eyes see or the ears hear) versus judgment based on righteousness. One is sensual (or based on how judgment is affected purely by those devices – how our feelings are manipulated or moved –empiricism), whereas the other (righteousness – referring to God’s Law) is outside of us—and therefore objective (or able to make decisions that are not influenced by personal preference or experience – those things which create a double standard or inequity).

Which means this is entirely possible. Pastors can be truly equitable and just if they (like Jesus) are committed to listening only to God’s Law when making judgments/decisions for the covenant community. Hence the reason (btw) we are commanded not to pursue outside (or pagan) courts when dealing w/members of the covenant community (1Co 6:1-6). To think we need the council of outside authorities or courts to handle crimes w/in the church is to believe that the world (run by Satan) and rebellious to God are more objective or know better how to secure justice for the innocent or bring reform those individuals committing the crimes. It reveals not only a complete distrust of God but also a level of insanity, why would we go to darkness to find the light? (Isa 8:20!). All of this is true also as it relates to those functioning in the world as authorities and judges versus Jesus’ shepherds in the church. What would ever make us think that those controlled by Satan and completely ignorant of God’s Word wb more competent than those empowered by the Holy Spirit and equipped w/Scripture? Again, to do so betrays a level of insanity. Hence Paul’s command in (Rom 12:1-3) = According to Paul there are three things we all need to do (in light of what He has done for us): submit our life our minds and our ego to God and His Word — which means executing a full-stop when it comes to trusting ourselves and the “wisdom” of the world – especially as it re: to truth and justice.

5. They wb OUTLIERS:

We should not be surprised if those Jesus picks and empowers to be His shepherds are (like Him), viewed by the world as unconventional and controversial given their pedigree, practice and people.

As we saw in Isaiah 11, Messiah wb a descendant of “Jesse” – or as it says elsewhere, “the Son of David.” (Mat 21:15). What this means is that Jesus’ life would (in a very real way) resemble that of David’s. This is sometimes referred to as “type and archetype”. David was a type of Messiah, His life wb the pattern followed by the coming (and superlative) Messiah – his fulfillment or archetype, Jesus. Which is why throughout the gospels we find Jews attempting to determine whether Jesus was the Messiah by considering his life and ministry based on the prior life and ministry of David. How (then) is this relevant to our point? Well, bc of what I said about Jesus being unconventional and controversial w/respect to His pedigree, practice and people (or followers). It starts w/David and the same is reflected also in Jesus.

Both were not who the world (including the religious world of their days) would have picked to be Israel’s Shepherd. They lacked what most people view as the “confirming categories”. For example: 1) Neither David nor Jesus possessed the kinds of backgrounds normally associated w/kings. Hence the reason Jesse (his father) didn’t even think to bring David back from the field where he was shepherding his father’s flocks when Samuel revealed that one of his sons wb selected as king (1 Sa 16:1-11). Jesus (likewise) was questioned often by the religious leaders, given His strange birth and birthplace (Nazareth) (Joh 7:27, 41-42). Both David and Jesus were the unconventional pick – or bore a very unconventional pedigree (when compared to the world’s choice or expectations).

2) Both David and Jesus challenged the status quo – or religious establishment of their day—and were (therefore) considered controversial in their beliefs or practices. So much so that both were forced to flee into the wilderness w/their followers. During their earthly ministries they were hunted and condemned by those in power and denied a place among the religious elite.

3) Finally as it relates to their people, Both David and Jesus were defined by misfit followers. David’s mighty men were at one time considered the unimpressive losers” of Israel (1Sa 22:10, 25:10). In similar fashion, Jesus’s mighty men (or apostles) were considered the hillbillies of Jewish society, “unlearned men” who did not keep the traditions of the dominant form of Judaism in their day (Act 4:13; Mar 7:5).

(And) Paul’s words in 1Co 1 make that clear not only that God continues to pick these people to be His followers But WHY (1Co 1:26-31) = If we are truly in “Christ Jesus” and this is a place possessing a Jesus-imitating shepherd, then it is not bc we followed the wisdom of what was popular, but bc of God –bc of what He has done is delivering us from those things by giving us hearts that care more about the truth of His Word and gospel than being popular or accepted by that version of Christianity which is.

 

CLOSING CONTEMPLATION: If we find ourselves possessing this kind of shepherd, what should be our response? (1Th 5:12-13)