Ezekiel 34:2-6

Woe to you shepherds of Israel who only take care of yourselves! Should not shepherds take care of the flock? You eat the curds, clothe yourselves with the wool and slaughter the choice animals, but you do not take care of the flock. You have not strengthened the weak or healed the sick or bound up the injured. You have not brought back the strays or searched for the lost. You have ruled them harshly and brutally. So they were scattered because there was no shepherd, and when they were scattered they became food for all the wild animals. My sheep wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. They were scattered over the whole earth, and no one searched or looked for them. ~ Ezekiel 34:2-6

When I read Ezekiel 34 it is like reading an indictment of pastors in today’s world. Tragically, there are too many pastors who place themselves over and above the flock. They enjoy the benefits of shepherding the flock. Clothing themselves in wool. Slaughtering the choice animals for dinner. They see them as financial giving units and a voting block. But they are not caring for the flock. Caring for the injured ones. Searching for the ones that wandered away. They rule harshly over the flock. And in Ezekiel 34 God is pronouncing a “Woe to you shepherds…” This is a wake-up call. This is God looking to get the attention of the shepherds of the flocks of Israel and hoping that they will get back on track. God is calling the shepherds to feed the sheep, care for the ones who are hurt and injured, and go searching for the lost lambs who have wandered away.

In John 21 Jesus in his post resurrection state challenges Simon Peter. In many ways Jesus is asking Simon Peter what will be the focus of his life? Will you go back to fishing? Something familiar. Understandable. Or will you arise to the challenge to be a shepherd instead and feed the sheep.

It is interesting to note that earlier in the gospels we read of Simon Peter denying he ever knew Jesus. Jesus is then taken and crucified, dies, and is buried. I could imagine Simon Peter thought it was all over at that point. But then…three days later…Jesus rises from the grave. His resurrection changes everything. (It still does.) This encounter between Jesus and Simon Peter is a post resurrection encounter. In many ways it is Jesus restoring Peter back into his position of leadership. It is also a reminder to feed the sheep. Care for the sheep. Lead them. And go find lost lambs and bring them back into the flock. I feel that is the calling that God has on my life.

Lord Jesus help me to be a better pastor – shepherd to your flock. Help me to care for the sheep. Find ones who have wandered away. Help me to lead your flock into green pastures, beside the still waters and through the valley of the shadow of death. In Jesus name amen.