Study 7 THE SHEPHERD AND OVERSEER OF OUR SOULS
THE FIRST LETTER OF PETER
by Francis Dixon
(Scripture Portions: 1 Peter 2:21-25; Psalm 23:1-6)
One of the most beautiful relationships our Lord has with His people is that of shepherd. He is our shepherd and we are the sheep of His pasture - look up and compare Psalm 80:1; Isaiah 40:11. Psalms 22, 23 and 24 form a trilogy:
- Psalm 22 speaks of the past - of the cross, of God’s grace,
- Psalm 23 speaks of the present - of the crook, of God’s guidance;
- Psalm 24 is prospective and speaks of the crown - of God’s glory.
In Psalm 22 we read of ‘the good shepherd’ who gave His life for the sheep - look up John 10:11; in Psalm 23 of ‘the great shepherd’ who cares for the sheep - look up Hebrews 13:20; and in Psalm 24 of ‘the Chief Shepherd’, who is soon to appear to reward His sheep – look up 1 Peter 5:4. In 1 Peter 2:21-25 we have an inspired description of our shepherd, with special reference to His sufferings and death. Notice:-
1. THE SUFFERING SHEPHERD.
The sufferings of our Lord are referred to in 1 Peter 2:21. The Bible has much to say about the sufferings of Christ; every Jewish sacrifice pointed to these sufferings. Psalm 22 describes them, and in the four Gospels we have the historic account of our Lord’s sufferings - but look up also Lamentations 1:12. How intense His sufferings were!
- There was the physical intensity of His sufferings - the rough handling, the beating, the nails, the crown of thorns, the death by crucifixion - look up John 19:29-31.
- There was the mental suffering He endured. Think of the indignity heaped upon Him in His trials - in the mocking, in the robe that was placed upon Him, the taunts, the ignominy - look up John 19:1-5; Matthew 27:27-28.
- There was the spiritual suffering He endured. He was the Holy One of God, and He was “made sin for us” and forsaken - look up Matthew 27:45-46, and compare 2 Corinthians 5:21. Dr C.I. Scofield declares that the literal rendering of Isaiah 52:14 is: ”So marred from the form of man was His aspect that His appearance was not that of a son of man”.
2. THE SINLESS SHEPHERD.
We see this in 1 Peter 2:22. Since the Fall there has been only one sinless man upon this earth; all others have been sinners - look up and compare Isaiah 53:6; Romans 3:23. The one great exception is the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was born holy (Luke 1:35); His was a virgin birth (Matthew 1:22-23); His life was sinless (Hebrews 7:26); He even challenged His enemies to point out any sin in His life (John 8:46); Satan could not find any point of entry (John 14:30); Pilate was convinced of His sinlessness (John 19:6); so was Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19); so was the dying thief (Luke 23:41); and so was the centurion (Luke 23:47). He had to be holy to be a sacrifice for our sins - thus, the Shepherd was the Lamb “without blemish” (1 Peter 1:19). When we stand in the presence of this holy One we have to cry out with Job (Job 42:6); with Isaiah (Isaiah 6:5); with Peter (Luke 5:8); and we experience something of what John experienced (Revelation 1:17).
3. THE SUBMISSIVE SHEPHERD.
The words in 1 Peter 2:23 are very wonderful. Although our Lord was insulted, mocked, threatened and provoked, He gave no answer. He did not try to justify Himself. He did not even deny the false charges made against Him. This was not the silence of stubbornness or of weakness; it was the silence of humble and willing submission to the will of God. Our Lord was saying ‘Yes’ in answer to His own question in Matthew 20:15. He was saying - Psalm 40:7. He could have had twelve legions of angels to deliver Him (Matthew 26:53); He could have spoken a word and banished His accusers, but He did not do this - look up Isaiah 53:7. Think of the humiliation, the self-abnegation of our Lord! “He did not open his mouth…” Why was this? It was because He came to die, and nothing must hinder that. One word of self-justification might have altered the situation, and so the Good Shepherd became the Silent Man, and He did this for us and for our salvation.
4. THE SUBSTITUTIONARY SHEPHERD.
1 Peter 2:24 is one of the most wonderful verses in the Bible. It tells us that the Lord Jesus took our place upon the cross and bore the punishment that was due to us. A substitute is someone else who goes in your place; and here it simply means that you deserved to die (Ezekiel 18:4), for you were under condemnation (John 3:18), but Someone else died in your place and bore the punishment that was due to you, and that Someone was Jesus - look up and compare Psalm 103:10; Isaiah 53:5; 1 Peter 3:18. The sinless Saviour took the guilty sinner’s place - look up John 10:11, and underline the word ‘for’. Have you thanked Him for doing this for you?
5. THE SEEKING SHEPHERD.
In 1 Peter 2:25 we are referred to as ”sheep going astray”, but He is referred to as ”the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”. No sheep ever returned to the fold without being sought, and that is why it is that Jesus came to seek us - look up and compare Isaiah 53:6; Luke 19:10; and then read Luke 15:3-7.
Have you been found by the Good Shepherd? If so, rejoice! But before you leave this study, notice the practical explanation of all that has been outlined above. This is indicated in verse 21. Notice that:- (1) because he is our Suffering Shepherd we must be willing to bear the disgrace (Hebrews 13:13); (2) because He is our Sinless Shepherd we must be willing to live holy lives (1 Peter 1:15); (3) because He is our Submissive Shepherd we must be willing to submit ourselves to God and to one another (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:5); (4) because He is our Substitutionary Shepherd we must be willing to give our lives in the service of God and for the salvation of others (1 John 3:16); and (5) because He is our Seeking Shepherd we who have been found must go out and find others.