As I was working on my sermon today I found an interesting note in my Oxford Bible on the Lord’s words to Ezekiel in chapter 34 about the Shepherds of Israel. Whenever this text has come up in the past, in conjunction with St. John 10 (“I am the Good Shepherd”) I have always talked about those shepherds of Israel as if they were the false prophets. But this note in the Bible says that it refers to the Shepherd-Kings! It makes so much more sense. The kings were the shepherds of Israel. And the prophets like Ezekiel were sent to call them to repentance. So when Jesus says: “I am the Good Shepherd” it is actually a reference to his royalty as the true and good “King of Israel.” Interestingly enough, it may also help us understand the NT office of Shepherd (pastor). “Yea, kingly kings they be” are the words from the old TLH ordination hymn. Jesus tells Peter: “Feed my lambs.” “Tend my sheep.” Peter, the other apostles, and ministers of the Gospel after them, are they not shepherd-kings, who rule with the Word of God? It changed the way I preached about it.
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