Lecture 5: An Urgent Call to Shepherd – Part 5
Course: Urgent Call to Shepherd – Lectures 1-5
Lecture 5: An Urgent Call to Shepherd – Part 5
Paul gives an urgent call to elders in the church to shepherd the kingdom of God. He reminds them of the promise of future rewards and exhorts them to practice mutual humility.
1 Peter 5:4-5 – And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.
A. Future Rewards
We now come to the conclusion of this passage of Scripture. In our last point, Peter’s promise of future rewards for elders, the unfading crown of glory when the chief shepherd appears. In other words, victory day is coming; all the labors and sacrifices and hardships of pastoral life will be fully recognized and rewarded by the chief shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. So, we are not going to have to do this throughout eternity. It is only on this earth that we do this; it is only a short little time. So, I see Peter telling us to get an eternal perspective on your work. So, he starts with the chief shepherd; this is a rare term used nowhere else. He pictures the Lord Jesus Christ speaking to shepherds; he is the arch shepherd, the chief shepherd. Can I remind you that there is only one flock; there is only one church and only one people of God and only one teacher. There is only one shepherd and overseer; it is the Lord Jesus Christ. We should never forget this. In the great commission, he says low I am with you always, right to the end. In other words, he gives us a glorious promise; no matter where you are in the world and no matter how difficult the situation. He says that he is with us as the chief shepherd.
B. Jesus is the Chief Shepherd
This brings up the idea of relationships; we are not the chief shepherd. We are the under shepherd of the chief shepherd. We only teach what he teaches. I don’t teach whatever I think; he is the one teacher. I teach his doctrines, his teachings. I follow his example in everything. We have a unique relationship with Jesus as an under shepherd. We are under his authority and rule. We cannot do anything we want; we are not free to lead his people the way we want or teach what we want to. We do everything under the lordship of the chief shepherd. We are to do everything in agreement with his way and his teachings. We are to lead the Lord’s people with eagerness and willingness; we are to be an example to his people. This is the way he wants us to do it and so let us do it his way. Jesus is Lord; he is the chief shepherd. There are many practical ramifications to this; very often people come to our church, saying, oh, you must be the senior pastor? I usually say something like - I am one of the pastors of the church. Then they ask, oh, who is the senior pastor? I answer that we don’t have a senior pastor except for the Lord Jesus. He is with us in whatever we do and we follow his lead. Yes, that is nice, but who is the senior pastor? They can’t imagine that a group of men can lead God’s people together under the chief shepherd. He is the main shepherd and we are his under shepherds.
C. He Will Appear and You Will Receive a Crown
He will appear; we have Peter saying this. There is an end to this and when he appears, everything will be reversed. We may have been rejected, with people being malicious to us. They may have criticized us and complained about everything we do. Some of you may have had your health broken as a result of this. Some of you may have faced death or imprisonment. There are places in the world where being a shepherd is an extremely dangerous job. It is real, but Jesus will come and appear, and on that day you will have a whole different view of what you have done. You will be glad and wish that you could have done more. He says on that day when he appears; know that Peter has been talking to these persecuted believers, right from the first chapter about the appearing of the Lord Jesus and the eternal inheritance that can never be destroyed. This has been a theme in the book; he wants you to get a divine perspective. That is his purpose and fellow shepherds to get God’s perspective on their work or they will give up, they will be burned out by people. You must have this divine perspective; his appearing and when he appears, there will be the unfading crown of glory given to you. It is unfading; it is not like any earthly award. It is eternal; everything else dies, fades or tarnishes. Nothing will outlast the eternal reward that Christ offers, for it is a lasting reward. The reward is called a crown; that is the metaphor here. This is explained by glory. What we are going to get is glory which is something that is shared with Christ; his heavenly divine glory. There are no specifics given and probably can’t even be explained. It will be somehow sharing within his honor and his glory and participation with him. The Lord is no person’s debtor; he will acknowledge and say well done good and faithful servants, enter into your reward. So, the Lord will take care of this and it will be glorious. It will be a sharing with him and you will never be sorry for what you have done.
There are a number of hymns that bring this out. One such chorus, It will be Worth it All When We See Jesus. Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Jesus. One glimpse of his face, all sorry will erase. So bravely run the race until we see Christ. Christ will appear for he is coming back. Another hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus and look full into his wonderful face and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the life of his glory and grace. Dear fellow shepherds, precious ones, reward day is coming. The appearing is coming. It will be his day when he returns with his angels and his saints. Oh, on that day you will be very happy that you served him and his people. You will wish that you had done more; I wish that I had suffered more for him. The joy of that day, all the hard work and selfless labor, the inconsequential things that no one ever acknowledged will be acknowledged for the Lord knows your works; he knows all that we have done and there is nothing too small or light. All of your prayers and songs and visits and phone calls and sleepless nights; it will be worth it all. So get divine perspective; that is what he is saying because it will help your work. I cannot think of a greater conclusion. Often when I sign books, I will add this verse, when the chief shepherd appears you will receive the unfading crown of glory. Keep your eyes fixed on that. It will help in the normal trials and problems of life.
D. A Call for Submission
Lastly, Peter’s exhortation to mutual submission; likewise, you who are younger be subject to the elders. This is a call to submission. He has just said to the elders, not to lord it over God’s people, those that I have allotted to you, my flock; do not control them and manipulate them in a heavy handed kind of leadership. So now, he turns to the younger ones telling them to submit to the elders. What does he mean by this? These younger ones are probably junior leaders, people who are working hard in the church. They love the church, they are growing and they are diligent and making effort. It will not be long before these younger one get frustrated, often with many elders because sometimes elders become too conservative and too reluctant. They are not moving forward, being too passive and not addressing problems. And these junior leaders, the younger ones who are not elders yet become frustrated. If you read the letter of First Clement written at the end of the 1st century by the church in Rome to the church in Corinth, this was the problem in Corinth. Junior leaders, younger men kicked out the elders, the older ones and this caused a terrible rift in the church. The church in Rome tells them to stop this division. It is a worldwide disgrace in what is going on, submit to the elders.
It isn’t easy to be junior leaders and in rare cases you will have great elders and great leaders and shepherds. They are way out in front of the congregation, leading, learning and growing in knowledge and pressing forward and setting visions. Young men and women love those kinds of leaders. People love good leadership, but I have to say that this is sort of rare. So most of you are going to have to learn to deal with frustrating leaders above you but sometimes that is how God teaches you humility and patience and what not to do when you become a leader. So, if God has placed you in a junior position, accept that as part of development and training. If you are frustrated with your leaders, just remember worldwide and historically speaking there isn’t a lot of great examples of great leadership. So you are probably in a more normal situation; learn God’s great principles of humility and forgiveness and patience.
E. A Call for Humility
Now the call to humility; this tension between junior leaders and senior leaders and between congregational leaders is perfectly normal in human life. But we are Holy Spirit led people; we are people under great principles that Christ and his Apostles taught. So if anyone can get along with the frustrations of life, it should be us and the secret is humility. So Peter says to clothe yourself, all of you with humility towards one another for God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. How would you mind if I told you how to dress for church? Would you mind? I did this once with a group of young people. Oh, no one is going to tell us how to dress for church. Well, I am going to tell you and I don’t care if you like it or not. I know how you should dress for church. You should clothe yourself in humility. Those are the correct clothes. Elders are to wear those clothes along with junior leaders, men and women and those who are led; we are all to come to church on Sunday morning and when we meet with one another, we should be properly dressed. Those clothes are the clothes of humility, because if you come with an arrogant, proud and know-it-all and super spiritual clothes on, you are going to cause fighting, division and frustration. So, we are told how to dress with humility, that’s the proper clothes. That is how we are to relate to one-another. Always in your relationship have Philippians 2 right in front of you. You are to have the mind of Christ in front of you. He advanced others and gave himself to others with a servant’s attitude. 1 Corinthians 13, the more excellent way of relationships is the way of love. So in these stresses and strains, under the pressure of persecution and hostility from society, there will be straining relationships; we are given the principles to survive those relationships through love, humility, forgiveness and patience. Go down all of the Christian virtues attested in these life situations. We can talk about these great virtues but living them is very different, especially under pressure. Especially when people are frustrating us in our plans and our agenda; we all run into this. It isn’t easy living in this world with one another; it is basically impossible. That is why in human history, we have so many wars and divisions. We end up killing one another. We can’t do this in the church; we have to submit to one another and be humble to one another. We have to be Christ like. It is in these relationship frustrations that we learn the great trues of the Scripture and we learn how to walk in the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit.
Let me close with a great quotation by John Brown. What a blessed influence is the holly character and conduct of Christian elders calculated to defuse through the church. May that be true of us as shepherds of the flock of God.