A Flock Of Sheep
In 1 Pet 5:1-4, Peter exhorted the elders, who were among the scattered strangers to whom he wrote this epistle, 1 Pet 1:1. He told them, in verses 2 and 3, to “Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; Neither as being lords over God’s heritage, but being ensamples to the flock.”
Peter exhorted the elders to feed the flock of God which is among you. He referred to the Christians who were among these elders as the flock of God. This is the same thing that Paul called the Christians who were under the care of the elders of Ephesus, Acts 20:28.
We are compared to a flock of sheep because:
We feed together – 1 Pet 5:2 – “feed the flock.” Sheep graze together as a flock. As a matter of fact, sheep can only see about 15 yards. So they have to stay together or a stray will get lost. The shepherd will guide sheep back to the fold when he sees one grazing alone.
If he doesn’t, that sheep might end up stuck in a thicket or in a wedge where he can’t get out. I’ve noticed that we don’t get off track when we stay together and all feed on that which the Lord provides for us. That’s one of the reasons why it is so important for us to assemble together.
Christians lose their way when they stray from the flock. That’s where they usually pick up a false doctrine and then they get stuck. I know of several strays out there that are stuck.
We kept fed. But no matter how good a lesson or sermon may be, it is never the same hearing it recorded as it is being there with each other while the Holy Spirit is applying the message to each of our hearts. We really do better when we all feed together.
We function together – “taking the oversight thereof.” Sheep must be watched morning and evening. The first thing a shepherd does when he comes to his flock is that he counts them to make sure they are all there. If one is missing, he’ll go look for it to make sure that it isn’t sick, or injured, or that it hasn’t been wounded or killed by a predator, or that is hasn’t been stolen by a rustler, or that it hasn’t gone through a hole in the fence or dugout underneath it. He is constantly looking out for his sheep. That wouldn’t be easy to do if sheep were scattered out all over the place.
But sheep don’t scatter out; they stay together in a flock. That’s for their protection. And staying together is for our protection, as well. It’s much easier for us to look out for each other when we are together in a flock. What you did for each other these past seven weeks, by calling each other, dropping by for a visit, and praying for each other was remarkable. But how much better it is to be here together, this evening, where we can see that each of us is in good spiritual health.
We follow together – “being ensamples to the flock” – sheep need sheep to follow. When a shepherd leads his flock, he gets out in front of them to lead them. But he has a few sheep that are usually in the lead with him. He guides them where he wants the rest of the flock to go. And they follow those more experienced sheep. It is so much easier for us as Christians to grow and live when we have other Christians that we can follow as ensamples to the flock.
You have to laugh. We are compared to a flock of sheep, to the world a dime a dozen. All look the same. Yet within the flock, there is a richness. A depth of understanding. The shepherd knows each sheep, the tendencies, the personalities. It will be the same sheep following the same patterns, the same tendencies. Within a flock there is protection.
Jesus says, “my sheep listen to my voice.” In the days of the New Testament, it was common for shepherds to wander the hillsides so the sheep could graze, a variety of flocks. In the evening, 3, 4, 5 flocks of sheep would often be herded into an enclosed pen for protection through the night. The different flocks coming together with the shepherds each taking turn through the night to keep watch for wolves, bears, lions…In the morning, the 3-4 flocks looked like one big flock.
The shepherds would go to different corners, use their voices to call their sheep, and the sheep would separate themselves into the different flocks to go their separate ways for the day. “The sheep hear my voice and follow me.” The church is compared to a flock of sheep. Listen to the voice of Christ. If you hear my words, and it doesn’t sound quite Christian, then don’t listen to me, the test of the direction we go as a church is the voice of Christ. Not the voice of the world. The world wants us to adopt certain values, embrace politically correct beliefs, but it is the voice of the good shepherd we must follow to keep us together, to give us direction.
You are God’s flock; you are God’s heritage. And God wants to make sure that you are well-fed, and well cared for, and well protected. By God’s grace, He’s going to continue to help us as we feed together, function together, and follow Him together. And what is the reward? Eternal life. Confidence of absolute protection. In this world, even the best shepherds will occasionally lose a sheep to tragedy, but not so Christ. “No one can snatch them out of My hand.”
Our strength is only found in our reliance on the Lord Jesus Christ, the good shepherd, our protector, our guide, the giver of abundant life. Amen!
“If we spend our days trying to avoid the landmines of stepping out of God’s will, then we will be afraid to take any risks for His kingdom. But when you know there is a net of grace when you know that God will catch you and set you back on His path when you fall, then you’ll feel the freedom to pursue the adventure that kingdom living is all about.” Author: Will Davis Jr.