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The Shepherd We’ve Always Needed

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I’ve been reading recently in the Gospels. Coming to the accounts of Jesus’ betrayal and arrest, I was struck by the response of the chief priests and the elders of Israel to Judas’ expressions of remorse. Matthew records:
Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remose and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” (Matthew 27:3-4)
The callousness of these shepherds of Israel is stunning. These men are the spiritual caretakers for the nation of Israel. One of their flock has come to them and confessed a sin, bearing his soul to them. He has expressed the burden of his guilt. And they care not at all.
     They demonstrate the truth of Jesus’ own observation:
Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9:36)
     Nor is Jesus’ evaluation of the situation the first such to be levelled against these poor shepherds. Several centuries earlier, God had spoken through the Prophet Ezekiel in condemnation of an entirely different generation of wicked and uncaring spiritual shepherds:
“As I live,” declares the Lord God, “surely because My flock has become a prey, My flock has even become food for all the beasts of the field for lack of a shepherd, and My shepherds did not search for My flock, but rather the shepherds fed themselves and did not feed My flock; therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will demand My sheep from them and make them cease from feeding sheep. So the shepherds will not feed themselves anymore, but I will deliver My flock from their mouth, so that they will not be food for them.”‘” For thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.” (Ezekiel 34:8-11)
God’s solution for his people is to appoint himself as their shepherd – “I Myself will search for My sheep….” And yet that’s not the whole story, either, is it? Because a few verses later, he will say,
“Then I will set over them one shepherd, My servant David, and he will feed them; he will feed them himself and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord will be their God, and My servant David will be prince among them; I the Lord have spoken.” (Ezekiel 34:23-24)
     So this shepherd who will take proper care of his sheep will be God himself (verse 11) and it will be “David” (verse 23). Of course, we know of only one person who fulfills both of these conditions. Jesus Christ, the descendent of David, God in the flesh, shepherds his people with a care that is totally foreign to the chief priests and elders of Israel.
     When another of his disciples betrays him, Jesus says not, “What is that to me? See to that yourself!” but “I have prayed for you, that your faith may not fail. And you, when once you have turned again, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:32).
     In a very real sense, where the leaders of the Jewish nation responded to sin with a dismissive, “see to that yourself!” Jesus said, “Let Me see to that in your place.”
     He is the shepherd we’ve always needed.

 

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