Our Lord Shepherds His People
Our Lord shepherds his people as He guides and looks after his flock.
When it comes to physical fitness, a number of people like to pay for the services of a personal trainer. Others like to join a class or group fitness activity. Both options will help you become fit. But only the latter provides an illustration for how our Lord Jesus guides and looks after his followers as we learn to exercise the faith given us in our baptism as a gift.
King David could boast on the care the Lord gave him. He recognizes the Lord as his Shepherd. He realizes that his Shepherd guides him to verdant pastures and safe watering spots. He further extols the benefits he has received from the Lord his Shepherd in Psalm 23. But the King, having been a shepherd of sheep himself, surely knew that Shepherds are not employed for a single sheep! Rather, they lead and watch over the flock.
For whatever reason, Christians today seem less mindful than ever on the importance of the Church. This is what we confess to be “the holy catholic church, the communion of the saints.” The New Testament identifies it as a “fellowship”, or an “assembly” (gathering, congregation), and as a spiritual temple of which each believer is a stone incorporated into the structure. The Apostle Paul also speaks of the Church as the Body of Christ, with each believer as various members of the body.
Any way you look at it, the personal attention we are given is in the context of our being part of the Body. And the Lord attends each one in and through the various members exercising their gifts.
I can think of one exception when the Lord as the Shepherd deals with us individually, apart from the flock. And that is when we wander and stray from the flock and end up lost. Then He comes to carry us! And He carries us where? Back to the flock!
Since You Asked…
Do Lutherans Promote Private Confession?
“Confession has not been abolished by the preachers on our side. … The people are carefully instructed concerning the consolation of the Word of absolution (forgiveness) so that they may esteem it as a great and precious thing. It is not the voice of the man who speaks it, but it is the Word of God, who forgives sin, for it is spoken in God’s stead and by God’s command. …it is necessary for terrified consciences” (Augsburg Confession, XXV).
Private confession has two parts: First that we confess our sins, and second, that we receive absolution, that is, forgiveness, from the Pastor as from God himself.