Going Deeper 07.14.2021

The first reading for Pentecost 8... Jeremiah 23:1-6

Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! says the Lord. Therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who shepherd my people: It is you who have scattered my flock, and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them. So I will attend to you for your evil doings, says the Lord. Then I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply. I will raise up shepherds over them who will shepherd them, and they shall not fear any longer, or be dismayed, nor shall any be missing, says the Lord. The days are surely coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And this is the name by which he will be called: “The Lord is our righteousness.”

As is most often the case with the prophets, doom and gloom is followed in our text by a message of hope.  "So I will attend to you for your evil doings" is followed immediately by "I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the lands where I have driven them, and I will bring them back to their fold, and they shall be fruitful and multiply."

What is a bit different here is the setting of the blame for what has happened among and to the people at the feet of their leaders, the "shepherds who destroy and scatter."  The monarchy, which God had reluctantly established at the request of the people, had let them down... just as God had said they would.  Power has always corrupted.  Leadership of every form at every level has always proven to be a difficult thing to do well.

At the heart of the issue is the heart of the leader.   And just like everyone else's heart, the heart of the leader is corrupted by sin, by the incredibly strong desire to serve themselves, exerting power and authority in ways that use those they lead to meet their own selfish needs.  This type of leadership causes incredibly horrific damage.

Jesus will prove to be the "Good Shepherd" who will model a different style of leadership.  Yes, He called and directed His followers, and taught with authority.  Yes, He was in charge.  But Jesus chose to use His authority in selfless ways, even washing feet.  The ultimate act of power was demonstrated in laying down His life for those He love, demonstrating that the best style of leadership is servant leadership, one which uses authority in order to do what is best for those being led.

We do well to follow His example.

Mark Gabbert, Pastor

Zion Lutheran Church, Wellington

"Gratefully Growing Servants"