The shepherd and his sheep

Scenes typical of biblical times are common Jordan, Turkey, and portions of the West Bank of Palestine today. There are some differences, of course.

We were traveling between Diyarbakir and Sanliurfa, Turkey, in early June. Several farmers were harvesting their grain using modern combines.

Harvesting grain in Eastern Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Harvesting grain in Eastern Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

As quickly as the combine passed by, the shepherds brought in the sheep to feed.

The sheep/shepherd analogy was used by Jesus to describe His relationship to His disciples.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11 ESV)

When Paul spoke to the elders of the Ephesian church he instructed them “to shepherd the church of God” (Acts 20:28 NAS). I note that the ESV uses the term care instead of shepherd to translate the Greek poimaino. That certainly conveys the right idea.

Shepherds care for their sheep in Eastern Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Shepherds care for their sheep in Eastern Turkey. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Peter instructed elders to “shepherd the flock of God among you” (1 Peter 5:2). The NET Bible says, “Give a shepherd’s care to God’s flock among you.” Lest these men who have been appointed to this work be elevated in their own importance, Peter added,

And do not lord it over those entrusted to you, but be examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:3 NET)

not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. (1 Peter 5:3 ESV)

J. B. Phillips, in his translation of this text, used a vivid phrase to illustrate the overreaching of some elders:

You should aim not at being “little tin gods” but as examples of Christian living in the eyes of the flock committed to your charge. And then, when the chief shepherd reveals himself, you will receive that crown of glory which cannot fade.

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