We come to the end of our series, “Full Disclosure” this week. It’s been a wonderful journey through a book that’s often been labeled hard and difficult. However, our journey has been exciting for so many, including me. Until this series Hebrews was a book I read, but never grasped the way I do now. And I must not be alone, because literally scores of people have told me how much the Lord has spoken to them through our study.
This week we revisit the final verses of this sermon that Scott so masterfully exposited last week. Remember his points regarding Jesus as our Shepherd? He’s eternal, He’s personal, and He equips us with everything we need to get home unscathed. And it’s that last point that I want to explore further this week.
Remember the question – “If God loves me why is my life so hard?” Remember the answer – “Your life is a long journey and the only way you will make it home without even more pain and discontentment is to fix your eyes on Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith.” And the way the preacher encourages us to do that is by giving us more than a dozen individual portraits of Jesus as the full disclosure of God.
At the end of his message the preacher draws on one of the richest themes of Scripture to describe Jesus and every Christian. He uses the portrait of a shepherd with his flock of sheep. In 13:20 the preacher calls Jesus, “The great shepherd of the sheep.” In doing so he uses a word that he uses in chapter 3 when he says, “But exhort one another every day.” In chapter 13 he says, “I appeal to you, brothers, bear with my word of exhortation…” The word is perakaleo in Greek and it’s one of the most powerful words ever used to describe one of the gifts of the Shepherd to the sheep. The gift is other sheep who act as shepherds speaking into our lives.
A few years ago David Wilkie wrote a book entitled, Coffee with Jesus. It’s sort of Jesus “with an edge”. In it Wilkie has a dialogue between landscaper Carl and Jesus about Carl’s wife, Lisa.
Carl: “Lisa wants me to take her to the opera, Jesus! What could suck more than that? Ugggh! The opera!”
Jesus: “Lisa hides well her hatred of football, Carl, even when you insist on watching ten hours of it on Sundays.”
Carl: “Lisa hates football? But she sits there and watches with me and never complains.”
Jesus: “I love watching it sink in, Carl.”
Sometimes those “in your face” moments come as we pray, or as we read the Bible, but often they come from others (shepherds) who love us. I remember one time confessing a sin to a mentor of mine. After I confessed, I said something like, I was surprised that I had done it. He replied, “You wouldn’t have been so surprised if you didn’t have such a high opinion of yourself.” Touché.
That’s what we are going to talk about this Sunday – the role of other under shepherds in our lives. In chapter 13 the preacher called them “leaders”. In chapter 3 he calls them “one another”. The point is this: If you are a Christian and you have no one with whom you confide, turn to for advice, ask for a critique, listen for wisdom, take off your masks; you’re in deep weeds. Your walk in this world requires shepherding and Jesus mostly gives it through your brothers and sisters in Christ.
In preparation for Sunday’s message, “Our Family”, you may wish to consider the following:
- Consider the theme running through Hebrews 3:13; 10:24-25; and 13:17-25.
- Who are some of the shepherds named in Scripture?
- How many different names of God are associated with the name “Shepherd”?
- What do you know about sheep? Is it a compliment or a criticism to be called a sheep of His flock?
- What does Jesus mean when He tells Peter three times to feed or tend His sheep?
- How does Jesus fulfill His promise to never leave or forsake us through “undershepherds?”
- Why does the preacher attribute the role of “exhorting” to leaders as well as other sheep?
- What does exhortation/parakaleo mean?
- What are the dangers in shepherding?
- What are the fruits of effective shepherding?