Sojourners' Shepherds

Sheep. We who follow Jesus are often described as sheep. Peter said, "For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls" (I Peter 2:25). The apostle seemed to have Isaiah 53:6 in mind when he wrote those words.  "We all like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all." It's not flattering, but the image fits. We do tend to go astray, wandering from the Lord and following the crowd. And if we think about it, there is in our hearts a deep-seated sense of vulnerability. Our personal sense of significance and security are precarious. Yet the good news is that we have revealed in the Scriptures a very good shepherd, in fact He is the Good Shepherd, who laid down his life for his sheep.

In our text today, Peter singles out the elders of the churches in "Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" (1:1) and addresses them as shepherds of God's flock. While not all of us are called to be elders, all of us can learn something about what it means to be shepherded on this sojourn.  

Read I Peter 5:1-4. Peter and Paul seemed to have the same ideas about elders. Take a couple of minutes to read Paul's address to the elders from the church in Ephesus, which was in Asia, one of the provinces to which Peter wrote. Paul's address is found in Acts 20:17-38. Use the questions below to help you think about those God has called to serve as our shepherds on this sojourn, and our relationship to them.
1.    The immediate context of our text today concerns the fact that "it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God." It is quite likely that Peter had in mind Ezekiel 9. Read that text. If Ezekiel 9 is in the background, why might Peter turn to elders in 5:1? What lesson might we draw from this?
2.    Peter uses three phrases to describe himself in verse 1. What are they?
*    Why do you think he describes himself this way instead of saying something like, "So I exhort the elders as an apostle chosen by Jesus, a witness of His resurrection and a sure heir of the glory that will be revealed when Jesus returns"? What is the tenor of Peter's self-description?
3.    Peter exhorts elders to "shepherd the flock of God" (v. 2). Let's camp here for a few minutes. Using the passages listed below, what does it look like for an elder to act as a shepherd?
*    Psalm 23
*    Proverbs 27:23
*    John 10:11-18, 27-30
*    John 21:15-17 (do you think this event played into Peter's exhortation to these elders?)
*    Acts 20:17-38
*    How would you summarize the duty of a shepherd of God's flock?
4.    What are the character qualifications required of elders according to verses 2b-3? 
*   What light do these shed on what it means to be a shepherd of God's flock? 
*   Does any one of these qualifications catch your attention? If so, which one and why?
5.    Given what Peter has said in this text, why do you think God appoints elders to shepherd His flock?
*    What does this say about you and me? 
*    From the other texts in this meditation, what do you learn about the nature of sheep in God's flock? What are we like and why do we need shepherds?
6.    Consider I Thessalonians 5:12-13 and Hebrews 13:7 and 17. What does the Lord require of us as sheep in His flock? 
*    What would that look like for you in practical everyday terms?
7.    How did the Lord speak to you from His Word today? 
God be with you, and see you on Sunday!