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When The Sheep Become The Shepherds
January 09, 2011
As God designed His people, they are sheep in need of a shepherd. What happens when the sheep turn from the shepherd and follow another sheep? Jesus warned against the blind followers of blind leaders. Talking the talk is not the same as walking the walk. When the sheep become the shepherds, disaster results. We must look to the Chief Shepherd of our souls.
When The Sheep Become The Shepherds
By Bernie Parsons
Presented to Globe church of Christ on 01-09-2011
Presented to Load church of Christ on 01-16-2011
We recently spent a few months talking about developing ourselves spiritually, building toward a life of charity, as outlined by the apostle Peter in 2 Peter chapter 1. This should be the goal of every Christian. Why is it then, that so many never seem to come to spiritual maturity – never learn to live lives of charity toward all mankind?
I suspect that it has a lot to do with Bible teaching – or lack of it. Or worse, failing to teach the truth properly, or even teaching falsehoods. I think a lot of the problem lies with the fact that many of our supposed shepherds are actually sheep. What do I mean by this? The shepherd’s job is to lead the sheep to nutritious food, and then to drink from peaceful waters.
Psalms 23:1 "The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters."
The shepherd says to the sheep, “Come follow me. I will lead you to green pastures and I will lead you to quiet waters.” The sheep follow him, and he keeps his promise. What if the shepherd does not show up one day, and one of the sheep decides to lead the others? This sheep says, “Come follow me. I will lead you to green pastures and I will lead you to quiet waters.” But, instead of doing that, he leads them to barren land with no grass, and then takes them to a raging river? Just because it sounds like that he knows what he is doing, because he seems to be saying exactly what the shepherd said, does not mean that he knows what he is doing, as shown by his failure to lead them to green grass and peaceful waters.
Matthew 9:36 "But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd."
I see that happening in the churches. Instead of going where the shepherd went, I see strong-headed sheep leading the flock to places where the shepherd never took them, and would never have taken them, because of the danger. All the while, they think that they are not only doing as good a job as the shepherd, but even a better job!
John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.
15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd."
Jesus explained that the good shepherd will die while saving his sheep, if necessary. He will put his life on the line to preserve the safety of the flock. On the other hand, the hired hand will run away rather than endangering himself for the preservation of the flock. He cares about himself more than the sheep, and so he allows the wolf to tear the lambs apart.
When we have sheep leading sheep, there is no leader, and the flock is scattered.
Matthew 26:31 "Then saith Jesus unto them, All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad."
On the other hand, sometimes the sheep belong to someone else. Those sheep will not follow an unfamiliar voice, but they will follow their own shepherd’s voice.
John 10:26 "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.
29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand."
Part of the time the problem in the church is that the sheep are following a particular preacher, a sort of head sheep, rather than following the good shepherd. They don’t belong to the Lord in truth. Instead, they belong to another man. They will not respond to the voice of the Lord, but prefer to follow another leader. This causes problems when some of the flock follow the Lord, and others want to just follow the man, who is just another sheep.
John 21:15 "So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.
16 He saith to him again the second time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my sheep.
17 He saith unto him the third time, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me? Peter was grieved because he said unto him the third time, Lovest thou me? And he said unto him, Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee. Jesus saith unto him, Feed my sheep.”
The sheep need a shepherd. When Jesus was about to depart, He asked Peter to feed His sheep. He knew that they could not survive without a shepherd, as He had told them already. A flock without a shepherd scatters and is often destroyed.
1 Peter 2:21 "For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:
22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously:
24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls."
If we are not following Jesus, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, we are as sheep going astray. If we follow another sheep, we are going astray.
Luke 6:39 "And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? 40 The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master."
When the sheep lead the sheep, it is the blind leading the blind. Only when we follow the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls will we be fed the words of life, and drink of its water.
As the apostle Paul said:
1 Corinthians 11:1 "Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.
2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.
3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God."
We can only take the sheep where Christ took them. We can only feed them what He fed them.
1 Peter 5:1 "The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:
2 Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind;
3 Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.
4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away."
The local shepherds in the congregation must follow the chief Shepherd. The local shepherds lead the flock of God among them, not as lords or masters, but as examples to be followed. In this way, the flock is actually following the chief Shepherd through His proxy, or delegate, as it were. Such shepherds do not decide what to feed the flock, but simply follow the orders of the chief Shepherd.
Anything less is the sheep leading the sheep, and that doesn’t work.