Preached by David Kautt at
Community Christian Church, Durant, Oklahoma
Sunday morning, May 4, 2014
Matthew 9:35 – 38, “Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”
Luke 22: 24 – 27, “Now there was also a dispute among them, as to which of them should be considered the greatest. And He said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those who exercise authority over them are called ‘benefactors.’ But not so among you; on the contrary, he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.”
A greeting card arrived in my mailbox not long ago – that – to me – says it all when it comes to the subject of church leadership. Allow me to read the card’s message to you now. It goes like this: As a church leader, I am to challenge God’s people - to SEE the WORLD with eyes of COMPASSION – to SERVE the NEEDY with hands of MERCY – and to LOVE the SAINTS with hearts of HUMILITY!
I AM - to see the world that way – with eyes of compassion – I AM – to serve the NEEDY that way – with hands of mercy – and, yes, I AM – to love the saints that way – with a heart of humility. Yes, I – AM! But – as God intended for every leader – MY life – and the lives of every other church leader – every husband – every father – every family leader – MY life – OUR lives - and MY words – OUR words – are to CHALLENGE all of you – to INFLUENCE all of you – to see the world – to serve the needy – and to love the saints that way, too!
Last Lord’s Day, I opened up this Bible study time with THIS – rather provocative statement: Remember? I said, “Today – we embark on one of the THE MOST IMPORTANT JOURNEYS we have ever taken as a congregation – the exciting journey down a path called the “ROAD TO CHURCH LEADERSHIP.” What did you think about that statement?
Undoubtedly, as we travel along this road – there will be many twists and turns – some steep hills and some very deep valleys. In fact, likely on this journey – we will come to quite a few crucial – crossroads – as we follow the leading of the Chief Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ. And, where it will all end up, only He knows. But, one thing is for certain – and that is – that we MUST – we MUST walk this path. We MUST travel this exciting, frightening road – TOGETHER – and with Jesus showing us the way – if we are to be all God intends for us to be as a church family.
Last time we were here to worship together, I suggested to you that – at a most critical time like this period of time is – what we need the most – is to regularly hear from Jesus. As HIS sheep – in need of shepherds to do HIS work of keeping and leading His flock – we need to hear from HIM – we do.
Matthew chapters 9, 10 and 11 – this section of Scripture is one big place – one very important, Biblical place – where we DO hear from Jesus – the Chief Shepherd. Matthew 9:35 – 38 – our primary starting point in this study – this exposition regarding sheep, shepherds and the Chief Shepherd – the Good Shepherd. As we observed last time, this text – first of all – gives us a glimpse into the Good Shepherd’s HEART. And, what IS Jesus’ HEART – what are His thoughts and feelings with respect to His sheep? Remember?
Two things – two very basic – but – to me – very important insights into the HEART of the Good Shepherd. What are they?
Number one – the Good Shepherd – Jesus – the Chief Shepherd – is AWARE of the sheep and AWARE of the NEEDS OF the sheep!
Nothing complicated here, is there? Nothing tremendously deep or difficult to comprehend here, right? But, listen – as we search the Scriptures – and as we look out across this group of men and their wives and families – for those who might eventually lead us – praying over this process all the way through – what kind of leaders – what kind of shepherds – is God desirous of raising up for us here? You remember it, don’t you? Wrote it down last week, didn’t you?
God’s desire is to raise up GOOD Shepherds – godly men – like Jesus – who are AWARE of the sheep – and AWARE of the NEEDS of the sheep – men whose eyes are open – yes – and also connected – directly linked to right here – [point at my heart] – their heart!
Secondly, again rehearsing what we pointed out last time – Jesus’ eyes – they not only SAW the multitudes – that the sheep – were weary and scattered – helpless and harassed – SHEPHERD-LESS – sheep. More importantly, WHAT Jesus saw – MOVED HIM – toward tender compassion FOR the sheep – moved Him to DO something to HELP the sheep.
Once again – what does THAT have to do with our predicament?
It’s simple, isn’t it? We need shepherds like that, don’t we? We need godly men – joined and supported by their wives and families – to take the lead in TENDERLY CARING for the sheep – to be concerned for the sheep – yes – but not just CONCERNED – but COMMITTED ENOUGH to DO what is needful to HELP the sheep!
To put it succinctly, we need – we are PRAYING – aren’t we – that God will raise up for us GOOD shepherds – with EYES like Jesus’ eyes – HEARTS like Jesus’ heart – and – perhaps most of all – with HANDS – helpful, generous hands – like JESUS’ hands!
That’s what we need – and – interestingly – according to Matthew 9:35 – 38 – that’s what God’s sheep in Jesus’ day needed as well. So, what does the Chief Shepherd do?
Well, though – not limited in POWER – in ability – per se – you know – Jesus COULD HAVE pronounced ALL the sick – WELL – all the hurting – HEALED – all the oppressed – DELIVERED – all at once! But – think of it. That would have been more the work of a MIRACLE worker or maybe a KING. But, like we read earlier in Luke 22 – Jesus was not in the midst of the helpless and hurting flock – to sort of – hold out His SCEPTER to them – ‘Be Healed!’ Rather, He entered the pastures – went to where the sheep were – why? To TOUCH them – (and, at times, even to be touched BY them). Yes, Jesus – could have waved the wand – stretched out the scepter – and said to all of them – ‘Be healed’. But He did not come to be like a KING – but like a SHEPHERD. He was in the midst of the flock – like a servant/shepherd – in order to minister to each sheep – PERSONALLY – even individually!
But, here’s the thing – even though He was fully God – God the Son, in fact – Jesus – the Chief Shepherd – at this point in time – was also fully man – fully man – and therefore, bound – to some degree – by the limitations of time and space. To put it simply – THIS Shepherd – the Lord Jesus – needed some Assistant Shepherds – to join Him in the work.
So, what does He do? Matthew 9:37 – He not only SPEAKS to His disciples about the NEED – the Leadership Crisis, if you will – “The harvest is PLENTIFUL, but the laborers are few…” - He not only URGES His disciples to petition the Lord of the harvest fields – Matthew 9:38. But, Jesus – the Chief Shepherd – takes the next logical step – a step necessary for THERE and THEN – and, yes – a step that I believe also points the way for us – HERE and NOW!
What step are we talking about? Matthew 10:1 – 4 – Matthew 10:1 – 4: You can read it – now – up on the screen – Jesus, the Good Shepherd – the Wise Shepherd – takes the next, strategically-important step. He calls prospective assistant shepherds to DO what HE was doing. He calls His men – His chosen 12 – to SEE the sheep – to see the NEEDS of the sheep – and, then what? To ENTER THE PASTURE – with Him – to HELP the sheep!
Dr. Lynn Anderson has written a timely book about sheep and shepherding. The title is kind of eye-opening. This important book is simply entitled, THEY SMELL LIKE SHEEP!
Flock of God – that title kind of lays it out on the table, doesn’t it? Men of God – prospective shepherds – that Book title – They SMELL Like Sheep – kind of pulls back the curtain about this task of shepherding, doesn’t it, and in doing so – it also removes whatever thoughts of glitz and glamor we might have had about it!
THEY SMELL LIKE SHEEP – And Jesus, the Good Shepherd – who has known this fact about sheep all along – What does He do? He invites godly men – men whom God is MAKING into godly men – into the pasture with Him anyway! He does!
So, how are we to respond?
Well, to be honest with you – one of the things that every assistant shepherd – yes – even THIS assistant shepherd – your preacher – wonders about – right up front – BEFORE he enters the pasture to work with those SMELLY sheep – is what? How much is my salary? What’s my PAY for serving as an assistant to the Chief Shepherd?
John 4 – John chapter 4, verses 36 – 38 – we glanced over it last time – but – now, let’s take a moment to examine it for an answer to our ‘salary of the shepherd’ question, shall we? Prospective assistant shepherds, what IS your pay for caring for the sheep alongside Jesus? Read it with me, will you?
John 4:36 – 38, “And he who reaps receives wages, and gathers fruit for eternal life, that both he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this the saying is true: ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored, and you have entered into their labors.”
Jesus – the Good Shepherd – using here the metaphor of a farmer and his harvesting crew – Jesus informs us that those who choose to shepherd His sheep – in His behalf – YOUR PAY – your PRIVILEGE – is that you get to enter into HIS labors AND you to get to SHARE His JOY at the outcome of the harvest!
Speaking to his fellow elders – the apostle Peter had this to say about the assistant shepherd’s “PAY” – his everlasting REWARD. 1 Peter 5:4 – Peter writes, “When the Chief Shepherd appears – you shall receive the crown of glory that never, ever fades away!”
Flock of God – you know what we need now, don’t you? Men of God – prospective shepherds – you know what God intends for you to be, don’t you?
He is calling you – inviting you – yes, I believe – MOVING MIGHTILY upon you – to lead you to be the kind of shepherd JESUS is – One who is motivated NOT by the LOVE OF MONEY – but motivated by the LOVE OF GOD – and the LOVE of those GOD loves – His sheep – in view of the REWARD – an unfading, and eternally-glorious crown – that He intends to GIVE to those who will faithfully serve Him in this way!
THEY SMELL LIKE SHEEP! Don’t you just love that book title? They SMELL – like sheep! I mean, what ELSE would we expect them to smell like, right?
Beloved, there’s yet a fourth thing Jesus sets out in this TENTH chapter of Matthew that we need to notice as we progress down this path towards church leadership. What is it? In this important TENTH chapter of Matthew, Jesus instructs prospective assistant shepherds about SHEEP – about SHEPHERDING – and yes, about WOLVES.
Let’s walk down through here and catch the high points of Jesus’ teaching – as it connects to our situation, shall we?
First off, notice with me what Jesus tells us about the sheep. Matthew 10:8 – Oh, they are SMELLY, alright! Remember, THEY – ARE – SHEEP! Their lives are marked by sickness – affliction – distress – and, yes – even by oppression. I mean, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual – this is the condition of the average, run-of-the-mill sheep! It is! And, why is that? Simply, because they are PEOPLE – affected BY sinners – and – infected WITH sinful tendencies. Furthermore, as verse 6 makes clear – some of them – some of them – are LOST! Yes, I said, LOST. I mean, whether they realize it or want to admit it or not – some of the sheep are LOST!
So, what? I mean, why does a prospective shepherd need to know all of this?
Because – as a GOOD Shepherd – one of the Chief Shepherd’s ASSISTANT shepherds – you are there – in the pasture – with the flock – to apply the healing ointment of the Good Shepherd’s saving stripes – to their wounds – to their brokenness. You are there – are to BE there – because these sweaty, smelly sheep – belong to God – because the Good Shepherd laid down His life for them! Yes, you are there – in the middle of the pasture and in the midst of the flock – because God CALLED YOU to be there – for them – because of Him!
Then, there’s what Jesus has to say here in Matthew 10 about shepherding –
Perhaps, the single passage in this chapter that summarizes all of what Jesus wants us know about shepherding is Matthew 10:7 and 8. Read it together with me, will you? Jesus says, “As you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. FREELY YOU HAVE RECEIVED; FREELY GIVE.”
Shepherding – certainly there are more specifics to be found in a number of other passages elsewhere – but listen – Jesus’ summary – in verse 8 – “Freely you have received – freely give” says it all, doesn’t it?
As shepherds, we are to go – to the pasture – and yes, even to the highways and hedges – to where the sheep are – to find them – and to help them. We are to GO! Why? Because Jesus CAME! Because He CAME!
And, we are to preach and teach and testify – to them – to the sheep. Why? Because we have HEARD! Because the Living Word has spoken – to us! And, then – think of it – we are to give – FREELY – GENEROUSLY – out of love. Why? Remember John 3:16? Because He LOVED – because HE gave!
Matthew 10:8 – “Freely you have received – freely give!” – that verse is what shepherding is all about!
One more thing – from Matthew 10 – for us to consider. Flock of God – prospective shepherds – take note with me what Jesus has to say about WOLVES!
A couple of Sundays ago I mentioned in passing a simple fact that – whether the sheep are aware of it or not – EVERY GOOD SHEPHERD must know – and take seriously – and that fact is this: WHERE THERE ARE SHEEP – THERE WILL BE WOLVES! So, what’s a shepherd – prospective or active – to keep in mind – in light of this?
Sheep – shepherd-less sheep – straying, I WILL TAKE CARE OF MYSELF-minded sheep – are DEFENSELESS – helpless prey – against wolves! They are! Guess what? That’s why Jesus called the 12 to Himself – and gave them the authority and the instructions that He gave them.
You know something else? The reason why we have also entered into this leadership training and ordaining process – is because SHEPHERD-less sheep – is not only against God’s will – it is out and out dangerous for the flock.
So, men of God – prospective shepherds – what do YOU need to know about wolves – before you enter the pasture to face them? Jot down this verse – Acts 20:28 – as an overarching – basic principle – kind of verse regarding this subject. Speaking to the elders of the church in Ephesus – the apostle Paul sternly warns shepherds like this: “Take heed – be on guard – take heed to yourselves and to all the flock among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers – in order that you may shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” Because there always will be wolves – wherever there are sheep – shepherds must ALWAYS – always – be on the alert!
But, what if – what if the wolves try to attack the flock? What, then?
Matthew 10:16 – 33 – Know this – their intent – the goal of every pack of wolves – is to betray you – try to intimidate you and silence you – and perhaps, even to kill you. Why? Because they hate the Good Shepherd and any one working with and for the Good Shepherd! That’s the truth – plain and simple and maybe a little hard to swallow.
So, how are you to deal with them? Matthew 10:16 – you are to deal with them WISELY – BLAMELESSLY – and certainly, COURAGEOUSLY. But, listen – listen to Jesus – the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep: Matthew 10:28 – 33 – NEVER, EVER be afraid of the wolves! Never! Why? Because – as Jesus says – even IF they KILL you – even IF they END THE LIFE OF YOUR BODY – listen! They CANNOT – wolves CANNOT kill your soul! No! FEAR GOD – fear God – and, in the face of ravenous wolves – never, ever fail to STAND UP to boldly confess Jesus Christ as YOUR Chief Shepherd! Never!