“I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the LORD.” (Jeremiah 23:4)
The LORD calls me to shepherd his flock. To bestow care on his sheep (jer 23:2). I am called to gather them rather than scatter. I know each of my sheep by name. I pray for them. I know when I see them and when I don’t. I worry about them when they scatter from the flock for weeks, months, or even years. The scattered ones seem to scatter even more when I seek to bring them back into the fold. I am charged with protecting them from what would destroy (Jer 23:1) Destroyed by what? Sin death and the devil. Destroyed by being lost in this transitory life.
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” (Rom 8:36, Ps 44:22).
I am called to lead them so they are no longer afraid ot terrified. Where instead of guilt, shame or unworthiness, they are filled up with the joy of belonging to Christ.
Jesus said to Peter, “feed my sheep.” I desire to feed my sheep giving them the Word of God. TO feed them the Lord’s Supper. (Jn 6:54-56) But many sheep are too busy for the Bread of Life. So many sheep do not like the taste, don’t recognize its nutrional value and would rather consume junk food.
I am explicitly aware of how inadequte I am for this calling. How I fall short. How much I mself need the Great Shepherd. Still I am not relieved of being their shepherd. In spite of my short comings, I still seek to gather and feed my sheep. I do rejoice in the 99 gathered together (Lk 15:1-7). But I guess I am like Jesus thinking about the one that has wandered away.
They may have been stolen or led astray. Maybe they are ashamed or feel guilty. Some are led away with false promises.
I certainly agree – As we hear in Ephesians 6 & John 10 – our battle is not with flesh and blood but with an opponent who is a deceiver and a liar who seeks to destroy us. This is the reason I need to pray more for my flock – a stronger power than simply my words of persuasion are needed; the call of the Holy Spirit is needed.