The Need for Elders – Oversight (Feeding)

Posted: Thursday, October 17, 2013 in Church, Pastoral, Sermons

“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight… (1 Peter 5:2a)

One of the characteristics of sheep is that they are nearly incapable of feeding and watering themselves properly.  They have to be given food and water or they will never eat or drink properly.  They must be given the proper amounts at the proper time or they will eat too much or eat all the time.  Without a shepherd, the sheep would quickly gorge themselves to death.  Ezekiel 34 is one of the places where the shepherd’s role is set forth in a negative way.  One of the evidences leveled against these bad shepherds was their failure to feed the flock properly.

Of course, this nourishment refers to spiritual food, not physical food.  That is the purpose of these illustrations in Scripture.  In relation to the shepherd/elder provision, the source for this spiritual food is the centrality of preaching and teaching God’s Word.  When Jesus told Peter to feed His sheep (John 21:17), He was not referring to physical food, though Jesus cares and provides for His own physically as well.  But the apostles were primarily preachers and teachers, and early Christians devoted themselves to their teaching (Acts 2:42).  The elders’ calling is likened to that of the apostles and is tied directly to their teaching.  The apostle Paul declared that he did not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and he exhorted Timothy to, “Preach the Word” (2 Timothy 4:2), to properly feed the flock with the food they need when they need it.  Why?  Because the time would come when the sheep would manifest their sheepishness.  Remember, the sheep are incapable of feeding themselves properly.  If the shepherd is not faithful in feeding them the pure milk of God’s Word, they will starve.  Of course, there are those who demonstrate they are not sheep at all by spurning the food the shepherd gives, not enduring “sound teaching” (2 Timothy 4:3), and will go and find a shepherd that will feed them what they want when they want it, 2 Timothy 4:3-4, “but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” The shepherd is charged to feed the flock, to “preach the Word,” understanding that the Word of God is not cherished by all who profess to know Christ and to be His disciples.

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