This morning Pastor Piper’s sermon title was “The God of Peace Brought from the Dead the Good Shepherd.” His sermons have been pretty outstanding the past few months, as he’s focused on the new birth and what it looks like. Here are some notes from today’s (text: Hebrews 13:20-21):
Humans were designed to be sheep. We are to be shepherded. Who is our shepherd? Rev. 7 says “the Lamb slain in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd.” Note that our Shepherd is also a Lamb.
Being an exegete, Pastor Piper asks questions of the texts he reads and seeks to point us back to scripture in exploring them. Today he asked four questions:
1. Who is it that is my Great Shepherd?
- Per verse 20, our Lord Jesus
- Many people consider their pastor their shepherd and become disillusioned with the church as a result. Pastor John said that we have ONE shepherd, and he is not him—it is Christ alone. For those pastors who cause their flock to become disillusioned, God has these words, found in Jeremiah 23 and Ez. 34:
“Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture…I will attend to you for your evil deeds” and
“The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts.”
- Isaiah 40:11 says, “He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” Christ as shepherd never abuses or manipulates his flock the way worldly leaders sometimes do.
2. How can it be that Christ is our Shepherd today?
- Two obstacles prevent us from believing it is possible:
- He died!
- I don’t deserve Him!
- Per verse 20, he was brought from the dead by God “by the blood of the eternal covenant.” In the NIV and NASB, this phrase is rightly placed before “brought Jesus from the dead.”
- The “eternal covenant” references the new covenant. By the purchase of his sheep by his own blood, Christ satisfied the wrath of God. Because it was the perfect sacrifice, it achieved God’s acceptance and He raised both Christ and us, His bride.
3. What does it mean for me today to be shepherded by a great Shepherd?
- Per v.21, by this blood he will “equip you with everything good that you may do his will, working in us that which is pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ.”
- This doesn’t mean He will equip you to be rich, be healthy and be successful in business, but to DO HIS WILL.
- He did not buy a one-time prayer from me that will save me even though I’ve lived a filthy life without a second thought about Him after that prayer. He bought my perseverance. Jer. 32:40 says, “I will make with them an everlasting covenant, that I will not turn away from doing good to them. And I will put the fear of me in their hearts, that they may not turn from me.”
- He never asks you to do anything He doesn’t provide for. He’s going to work in us, as the text says, to keep us.
4. Why did God set it up this way?
- We don’t want to be like sheep. We want to be like God ourselves, having control and glory and the world revolving around us.
- But according to the text, God set it up this way so that HE would get the glory. Verse 21: “through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.”
- When we start getting haughty and thinking this should be the other way around, that by our serving Christ somehow we deserve glory, we need to remember that if we’re really His sheep, we’re happy being His sheep. We get the care, the protection, the provision, the joy of being loved in such a way, and God gets the glory for doing all of that for us. There’s no way that we could do that job. As Pastor John put it, “Here, please provide for the Creator of the Universe’s needs. Would you provide Him some love? Would you care for Him? Would you protect Him? It doesn’t work that way. You don’t want that job. You want to be the sheep.”