Ezekiel 34:1-24 | "1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 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. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; 6 they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. 7 Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 8 As I live, declares the Lord God, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep, 9 therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the Lord: 10 Thus says the Lord God, Behold, I am against the shepherds, and I will require my sheep at their hand and put a stop to their feeding the sheep. No longer shall the shepherds feed themselves. I will rescue my sheep from their mouths, that they may not be food for them. 11 For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice. 17 As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? 19 And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet? 20 Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22 I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken."
DREW: Let’s look at the fourth and final point. Jesus the Shepherd fortifies the sheep by binding up the injured and strengthening the week. In verse 16, “I will bind up the injured and I will strengthen the weak.” There are so many examples of Jesus doing this in the New Testament. I just want to draw your attention to Matthew 9:32-33 where Jesus heals a demon oppressed man and it says this, “A demon oppressed man who was mute was brought to Him and when the demon had been cast out, the mute man spoke.” Now, think about that. If you can’t speak, you’re not going to be able to do much, you can’t work. You know, there are ways today in which people who can’t speak can grow and can excel. It wouldn’t have been so easy back then, so that’s a form of binding up the injured and strengthening the weak. And then in Matthew 12, verse 13, “Then He, Jesus, said to the man with the withered hand, “Stretch out your hand,” and the man stretched it out and was restored.” Now, we have other instances of Jesus raising the dead, casting out demons, same idea. The Good Shepherd is strong when it comes to showing compassion, strengthening the weak, binding up the brokenhearted, healing the injured.
What I want to do is look into how Jesus continues to help the weak, injured, and the sick through us. Just a couple of verses in the New Testament epistles. Romans 12:15, “We are to weep with those who weep.” If you go back and read Job, the early chapters of Job, Job’s friends did well when they were sitting with Job for an entire week with their mouths shut. It’s when they opened their mouths they got into a heck of a lot of trouble. They really did. And Paul says, “Weep with those who weep.” Part of our problem is we feel we need to fix things, when you just can’t, you can’t, but if someone knows you’re there and you’re compassionate enough to feel what they’re feeling and to experience what they’re experiencing, that can be enormously healing and helpful at that time. Galatians 6:10, “Let us do good to everyone as we have opportunity and especially those who are of the household of faith.” And I have one more from Hebrews 12:12-13, “Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees and make straight paths for your feet so that what is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather healed.” That’s the idea of ministering to the body.
What are some ways in which you either have ministered to people or you’ve been ministered to by people when either you or they have been injured or sick or discouraged or depressed? Remember this is all part of the Good Shepherd ministering to us and to His people through us in Christ and by the power of the Spirit.
MARY: I know quite a few years ago the church that I attend has prayer ministers that were called if we felt like we need somebody to talk that they’re there for you after service and this was right before I became baptized. And I would not know this woman if I tripped over her, but I sat in one of the little rooms and I cried for over an hour and this woman, I will never know who she is, but she was there and that’s the power of what God using the Holy Spirit can do. You never know who you touch. So we’ve got to be prepared and ready to be that anonymous person even sometimes.
DREW: That’s great. It’s easy for us to look at our own weakness, but then when we’re weak, we’re strong because we’re in Christ and it’s that same Spirit who dwelled in the apostles and in Jesus himself who dwells in us; that’s where the power is, if we’re a willing vessel.
NANCY: It’s really interesting that you mentioned the woman that you wouldn’t know if you tripped over her, because I had a situation like that happen to me a couple of years ago when we were on vacation and riding bikes and I fell and I broke my ankle. And there was a woman who came up to me. I was lying on the ground and I was in incredible pain and she came up to me and held my hand and said, squeeze it as hard as you can. Don’t worry, you’re not going to hurt me, just squeeze my hand. And, I mean, I have no idea who this woman is or was. I tried to find her afterwards and I couldn’t, because I wanted to thank her, but she was doing a very Christlike thing at that time. She was reaching out to me and being there for me and it was just a wonderful compassionate thing that she did.
PENNY: I think what I hear and what I know in my own life and I definitely hear what you both are saying is sometimes we’re recipients of it, but sometimes we also need to be the ones that are proactive in stepping out. And I think that’s exactly where we get the opportunity when we’ve been recipients, that builds us up and encourages us to want to be an encourager to somebody else and that shows the compassion and love of Christ. I often think about our trip to India. I’ve thought about it for many years and I just absolutely treasure that time we went overseas. And we were with our dear friend and we’re in the middle of this church that was just the most humble church, but the most loving vibrant group of Christians. They had the Lord, they had one another, and they had some money, too. It wasn’t that they were so poor, but the third world country they’re living in, I mean, all you had to do was walk out the door and be reminded where you were. And I often think about how we were treated and we were treated like a king and a queen. I mean, we were absolutely doted on, loved, adored, prayed for. They were just the most beautiful group of Christians and I think when you have that kind of relationship like we have with people in that way at different times in our life, it just builds that love bond and that’s what I see Jesus doing with His disciples and with the people when He’s ministering to them. That kind of compassion and love, it just it never leaves. And so whenever I think about India I just have complete joy. I just love these people and I don’t even know all the people that touched my life to the degree they did. I don’t keep in touch with a lot of them, but they’re still very special.
NANCY: Yeah. There’s a woman that I’ve been corresponding with and I hadn’t corresponded with her in a while and the other night I just thought, you know, I really need to send her an email, so I did that and she sent one back to me the next day saying that she had been struggling with something and she said it was amazing that your email arrived when it did.
NANCY: And, you know, one of the things I had said after she responded that way and she was talking about some of the things she was struggling with and I said, you know, God is always there for you. You know, he says, I stand at the door and knock and all you have to do is open the door and He will be there no matter what. So it felt good to have made a difference in somebody’s life, and that has to be God orchestrating that. The fact that I had not sent an email for quite some time and I just chose to do it that particular night and she comes back with something she had been struggling with and it was so wonderful to have gotten my email right at that time.
DREW: The work of the Spirit. Fantastic. In conclusion, the great shepherd, David, mentioned in Ezekiel, the Lord himself, seeks the sheep and He finds them. When He finds them, He feeds them, and He feeds them in abundance. Everybody is satisfied. There’s plenty left over. Seek and you will find, knock and the door will be opened, ask and it will be given to you, and there are no qualifications. Just do it. And then He fortifies the sheep. He shepherds them by showing compassion, care, and ministering to the weak and to the downtrodden, to the discouraged, and to the depressed. And we’ve seen and we continue to see how He seeks and finds the lost sheep now in us, through us. We’re in Christ by the presence and power of the Spirit, we go out, we share the good news. He will find His sheep through those messages that we give to others. He will build them up through the teaching ministries that we have or that churches have and then also fortify them through us, showing them compassion, care, and concern. And that’s how Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He continues to use us to do it. So let’s continue to pray for grace to understand the scriptures more that we might be strengthened to be His under-shepherds in the world. So let’s pray.
Father, we thank you so much for the Lord Jesus Christ, for who He is and what He’s done. As the Good Shepherd, He has sought, He has found the sheep, and will continue to do so. He feeds us as well and He fortifies us by His word, by His person, and through His people. Help us, Lord, to be shepherds of a sort in our lives and ministries to one another and to the people spread across this globe who do not know you. We pray in Jesus’s name, amen.
Well, thank you for coming and for your great input and questions and insight. I really had a great time during this study.