“Shepherd the flock of God that is among you..”
Up to this point in the letter, Peter has been addressing the congregation, seeking to help them face their fiery trials with faith and trust in a sovereign, loving Heavenly Father. He wants them to know that these trials are designed by God to strengthen their faith. He holds out Christ’s suffering as a motivation for their suffering. Christ, the just and holy one, willingly suffered at the hand of sinners, that He might bring us to God. He is certainly worthy of our suffering.
Peter ends chapter 4 with a sobering note of judgment that is to begin with the household of God, and end with the wicked at the last day. Now in chapter 5, he turns his attention to the pastors. He wants to make sure that they are not shaken by these trials, but are staying the course of shepherding and overseeing the flock.
He assures them that he himself is a fellow elder who is subject to the same dangers as they are. Peter was not only an eyewitness to the suffering of Christ, the Chief Shepherd, but also suffered for His sake. He is now doing what the Lord appointed him to do in John 21:15, and that is to feed His sheep.
In these 4 short verses addressed to pastors, Peter gives 3 prohibitions as to how not to shepherd the flock. (1) They are not to do it out of compulsion, but out of love for Christ and His sheep; knowing that it is an honor to be appointed by Christ to care for His sheep. (2) They are not to do it for monetary gain, but out of a willing heart. It is a shameful thing to see those who profess to be servants of Christ using their office for financial gain; it seems that there is nothing new under the sun. Oh, how we need to guard our hearts against greed. (3) They are not to shepherd in an oppressive, domineering, and tyrannical way. Although there is an authority associated with the position of an elder, it is not to be abused, as was done by the popes. That authority is to be exercised after the manner that Christ, the servant-leader, exemplified for us. “..though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” (Philip 2:6ff)
So pastors are to be Christ-like examples to the flock in every way;
and when the Chief Shepherd of the sheep appears, they will receive a crown of glory. We praise God that in His love for the church He has raised up men with a heart to shepherd His flock. As pastors, we would covet your prayers for us that we would be the kind of shepherds that are described in this passage; these past few months have been very difficult and challenging; we have certainly felt our weakness and need of God’s daily grace to sustain us. Thank you for your patience and love for us.