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It’s all about the shepherd.

Matthew 9:35-38 says: “Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’

I was struck by the phrase, “…harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

It wasn’t that the people of Israel didn’t have leaders—there was an overabundance of those, military, political and spiritual. What they didn’t have were shepherds. As a result the people were “…harassed and helpless,” left to the wolves.

Dare I say that the same thing is true today? We have many leaders but few shepherds.

Jesus called for prayer. We often pray for young people to respond to the call to serve God overseas. But Jesus was looking for those who would shepherd the flock at hand, not the flock that was somewhere else.

He not only called for prayer, he sent out His disciples to fill the gap, to shepherd. Matthew 10 describes what He did. The disciples were to bring the comfort and hope of the Good News, and gifted with the ability to heal and deal with the hurts. They were to shepherd.

Our more popular term today for shepherds is “pastor.” I submit that though the title is popular, it is often an empty title because we have lost the understanding of what a shepherd truly is. A shepherd is a leader, but a leader is often not a shepherd.

In the next few posts we will explore “shepherding” based on the most famous psalm of all time, Psalm 23.

In the end, what it means to be a shepherd must start with a look at the Great Shepherd Himself, of whom the psalmist writes: “Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture” (Psalm 100:3).

Feeling harassed and helpless? Perhaps it’s time to find a better shepherd.


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