Today’s Reading: Ezekiel 34:11-16
Daily Lectionary: Exodus 34:1-28; Luke 7:18-35
“I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord GOD. I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.” (Ezekiel 34:15-16)
In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. In Ezekiel 34 we find God’s people in a time of defeat. They are a nation in exile. But what made this worse was Israel’s leaders, the shepherds, who failed in their callings. Unfaithful, they cared more about themselves than about the flock God charged them to serve and lead. So, how did God respond? He said that He would get rid of them. He would become their Shepherd, replacing those unfaithful and wicked leaders.
But here’s where it gets weird. When God said that He wanted shepherds for His people, just by saying that, He was describing the people of Israel as sheep. That’s not a flattering description. Have you seen how stupid sheep can be? Sheep rescued from a fire have even been known to run back into the flames from which they were just rescued. So, what point was God making by referring to His people as sheep? It was this: Just as sheep can be stupid, so can we. That’s not to insult you; it’s sin that makes us stupid.
So, if sin makes us stupid like sheep, and we get lost like sheep, then it makes sense why God was so angry at those shepherds who didn’t care for His flock. They failed by not feeding the sheep. Earlier in Ezekiel 34, God said, “My shepherds fed themselves but did not feed my sheep” (Ezekiel 34:8). They had failed to feed the sheep.
God would become the Shepherd of His people. Jesus came, fulfilling all the shepherding roles that God had given to His old-covenant priests and prophets. He is the Good Shepherd, fulfilling the old covenant, all while ushering in the new. And so, this shepherding and feeding of God’s flock takes place in Christ’s Church, today through your pastor. That’s how the sheep, the flock, hear the voice of their Shepherd today. As you gather together with fellow sheep, Jesus cleanses you of all the sins you have fallen into. As He cleans you He promises you, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish” (John 10:27-28). In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.
Almighty God, grant to Your church Your Holy Spirit and the wisdom that comes from down from above, that Your Word may not be bound but have free course and be preached to the joy and edifying of Christ’s holy people, that in steadfast faith we may serve You and in the confession of Your name, abide unto the end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Prayer for the Church)
-Rev. Kent Schaaf is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Little Rock, AR.
Audio Reflections Speaker: Rev. Duane Bamsch
Over eight sessions, The Messiah: Revealing Jesus in the Old Testament will lead you through the entirety of the Old Testament with daily readings, questions, and discussion prompts. After a brief introduction that reviews Christ’s earthly ministry, you will dive into the heart of the Holy Books that have spiritually nourished God’s people from creation to today! Now available from Concordia Publishing House.