Unbeknownst to me, beloved reader, this week had/has a theme that I was not aware of – sheep and shepherds. It makes sense with the Acts passage that stands in for the Old Testament passage. The disciples/apostles were very much like shepherds for the new believers, guiding them and teaching them as Christ taught them. Let us read then what one of my favorite “shepherds”, Peter, wrote.
“For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly. If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.” (I Peter 2:19 – 20)
Peter was beaten for his faith. He was also chastised by Jesus several times, but I do not think he is referring to that.
“For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps. “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.” When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.” (Verses 21 – 24)
When you think about the missteps that the apostle Peter made when he was learning from Jesus, the lessons have a special poignancy. Christ set an example for Peter, and the other disciples. When they were gathered around the lake after Christ’s resurrection, Jesus gave Peter the opportunity to pledge himself to Jesus Christ and his sheep not once, not even twice, but three times. To balance out the three times that Peter denied Christ. While Peter had a brief insight into the fact that Jesus was the Messiah, he did not understand the suffering that Jesus had to go through. Now, in this passage, Peter shows he has learned that lesson.
At the Last Supper, Peter did not understand why Jesus was washing the feet of the disciples. In portraying Jesus as willingly taking on our sins, Peter now sees rightly that Jesus was called to a servant role, even though he was the Master and Shepherd of us all.
“For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.” (Verse 25)
I like to think that Jesus Christ has as much patience with me as Jesus did with Peter.
We have two more days of scripture passages this week, and the sheep/shepherd theme continues. Until that next time, may you heed the words of Peter who learned how to best service and follow Christ. Selah!