Discuss How the Biblical Image of Shepherd

1 January 2017

This was a title well suited for David, however other leaders were not so worthy. Kinnison notes, that by Ezekiel and Zechariah’s time, the title “Shepherd” was associated with disregard for God’s rule. 8 They were considered senseless, neglectful and deceitful. 9 Ezekiel 34 denounces the acts of the false Shepherds and God’s response to this. He paints the picture of what God wanted for his people, what they needed and his response to the shepherds who has neglected their responsibility. They had exploited the people, neglected their duties and allowed for them to become scattered. 0 God announces that he will fulfill the role and search, rescue, feed, seek and strengthen the flock. 11 These were the qualities that God has expected from his appointed Shepherds. Finally, the promise of a new Shepherd. 12 Klein refers to this in his writings, as a promise to raise up an earthly Shepherd to rule with him and be the agent that God would use to lead, guide and govern his people. 13 The image of God as the Divine Shepherd gives us a foundation for Pastoral care. God never states that he will hand over care for his people.

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Instead, He declares that he will search for his sheep and look after them. 14 We don’t have to do it alone. God is the ultimate pastoral carer who has promised to care for his people. The added promise of a new Shepherd is not to take away from the role of God but instead be enabled to “stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord. ”15 Tidball also points out that Ezekiel shows us just what God expects of Shepherds in pastoral roles and the obligations to evangelism, restoration, teaching, encouraging and feeding that are needed under his guidance. 6 The role and requirement of human shepherds. God made a promise to his people that he would raise up an earthly Shepherd to lead and guide them. 17 Gerkin writes that the coming of Jesus saw the Shepherding image take its place for the primary grounding image of ministry. 18 It is widely used today to reflect the role of a Pastoral Carer.

The example and teachings of Jesus show the role and requirements of Shepherds today. This is evident in the way that Jesus instructs Peter to care for his flock in John 21. Jesus responds to Peter’s declaration of love or him, by instructing Peter to “feed my lambs”, “tend to my sheep” and “feed my sheep”. 19 Jesus was the Chief Shepherd who had tended to his flock and Peter was now being entrusted to continue caring for those who Jesus had cared for. However, as Kinnison points out in his writings, Jesus doesn’t relinquish ownership of the flock or give Peter total control, but rather entrusts that he will continue Jesus’ work. 20 Furthermore, Taylor points out that Peters role is to follow and love Jesus and, because of this love, care for the flock so they might also come to follow the Good Shepherd. 1 Peter writes his first epistle out of the pastoral care experience he had received from Jesus as his own Chief Shepherd. He instructs those with pastoral responsibilities that they have been entrusted with following the Chief Shepherd and assisting others to do the same.

He likens the Elders to Shepherds who should oversee God’s people with good motive and behaviour. He points out that they need to watch over God’s flock with willingness, be examples to the flock and do this not for earthly gain, but for the Chief Shepherd who will return again. 2  Both John 21 and 1 Peter 5 have lessons for implementing Pastoral Care. As Taylor points out, Jesus is the model that all Christians involved in Pastoral Care must follow. 23 The flock that we are entrusted to care for belongs to Jesus and we need to follow his direction. Furthermore, Elders and those with pastoral responsibilities, need to show a willingness to follow Jesus lead. 24 This should be done without greed and arrogant rule. 25 Pastors should never forget that the sheep and lambs belong to God, through the saving work of the Lamb of God who is also the Good Shepherd.

Tidball refers to this job as ‘under-shepherds’ who are accountable servants who will one day be answerable for how they cared for God’s flock. 26 A pastor can take knowledge from Peter, that they need to teach biblical truths to their congregation as well as offering guidance and discipline to the flock when needed. At all times, the Pastor must lead others to follow Jesus by example and word. By using the examples set out in both John and Peter, we can get a good understanding of the role and requirements of a Shepherd today. The character of a Shepherd

As seen above, the Shepherd imagery was widely accepted by New Testament times, however they were not always painted in a positive light. 27 Jesus was the promised Davidic Shepherd and referred to himself as the “Good Shepherd”. 28 The adoption of this favourable picture is remarkable, the scholar Jeremias believes, as it is quite isolated and most references to Shepherds to this point had been unfavourable. 29 John 10 tells a story of what characteristics Jesus had as the good Shepherd. Through this chapter, Jesus recounts the contrasts between the Good Shepherd and wicked ones30 stating twice that he is Good Shepherd.

In fact, Tidball believes that there are 4 main characteristics that Jesus portrayed that pastoral workers can model themselves on today. 31 Firstly, Jesus has a close and personal relationship with the flock. He knows them all and they have complete faith in him. 32 They recognise his voice and he is no stranger to them. 33 Secondly, he is the gate for the sheep. He provides security, salvation and pasture. 34 Thirdly, he will gather the sheep including those who aren’t in his flock. 35 He cares for those who belong to him, but wants others to be united with him as well.

Lastly, he lays down his life for the sheep. He is prepared to face danger to defend his sheep and sacrifice himself to preserve them. 36 Jesus, as the good Shepherd, provides a model of servant leadership for pastoral workers today, as well as anyone who is a believer in Christ. He served their interests and not his own and combined the figure of the messianic Shepherd with that of the suffering servant in his portrayal of pastoral leadership. 37 Today’s shepherd needs to guide and lead the sheep, just as Jesus showed the way in his description of a good Shepherd in John 10.

Taylor, in his writings, reminds us that the life and ministry of Jesus is the example to follow for individuals, for the Church and for the leaders of the Church by the way that Jesus was one with the people that he came to seek and serve, as well as the way he behaved towards them. 38 The purpose of good shepherding is to serve those who follow Jesus, as well as look for missional opportunity to return those who have lost their way. Pastoral care involves caring, feeding, guiding, knowing, gathering and teaching the flock that has been entrusted to us.

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