Summary: Symbolic language is used throughout the Bible to describe God. Among the most precious and universally undertood is that of God as Shepherd.
pI PETER 5 TRINITY 3 SHEPHERD SUNDAY
Use of symbols - by Jesus in communication. Among the most powerful are those comparing Jesus to the life of a Shepherd. This is an old thought -- God was referred to as "The Shepherd of Israel." This imagery is used to communicate who God is. He certainly is not the God of the dictionary .
1. God a. A being conceived as the perfect, omnipotent, omniscient originator and
ruler of the universe, the principal object of faith and worship in monotheistic
religions. b. The force, effect, or a manifestation or aspect of this being.
2. A being of supernatural powers or attributes, believed in and worshiped by a
people, especially a male deity thought to control some part of nature or reality.
3. An image of a supernatural being; an idol.
4. One that is worshiped, idealized, or followed: Money was their god.
5. A very handsome man. 6. A powerful ruler or despot.
Do those definitions sound like anything that Jesus, the Author of our Faith says?
Jesus was not talking about some far off creator that started things going then remained aloof, unconcerned, uncaring about the world. That is the God of the
Greeks, the God of Prometheus. In that myth, Prometheus, who gave mankind the gift of fire is eternally bound to a rock and exposed to the birds that forever eat at his heart. There may be a truth in there about the sorrows our race imposes upon itself
through scientific discovery, but it really doesn’t tell us anything about God.
The God that Jesus knew intimately He called Father. Jesus said to His disciples, if
you want anything, ask for it. The Father hears us.
He said prayer is like knocking on a neighbors door and asking for bread to help entertain late night visitors. The neighbor may be a bit slow to respond, but if you repeat the request, you will get an answer.
Jesus does not tell us to pray thus: O omnisicient, allknowing, omnipresent, all powerful creator of the universe give ear to our petitions. No! He says pray thusly
"Our Father. . . ."
He says "Your heavenly Father knows how to give good gifts to His Children. " Peter, in starting this letter says that He is writing to the Elect, the Chosen by the Father, those sanctified by the Holy Spirit and those obedient to Jesus Christ. He
doesn’t use the theological word we throw around -- trinity -- He talks of a Father, a person Jesus also described as our Elder Brother, He talks of a Spirit that helps us to live a Holy Life.
God is present everywhere by this spirit, but it is no impersonal ghostly thing, it is the Spirit of Christ.
The presence of God everywhere is an assurance that He is able to help, to deliver us from evil, and to lead us in safe paths.
God is all knowing, but it is a knowing as a Father knows his wandering Son and yearns for His return. It is a knowing as a mother hen knows her chicks and wants to protect them. It is a knowing as a Shepherd in search of that lost sheep.
Jesus used the familiar imagery of the Old Testament. On His last visit to Jerusalem, as Jesus viewed the city from a distance He said, "Oh Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who stoned, who killed the rophets. . .how often I would have gathered you under my wings as a mother hen gathers her chicks, but you wouldn’t have it!" He wept over the City.
Our God is like that. In saying these things, He was giving a powerful image of what was to occur that week. A mother hen gathering he r chicks. In the case of a barnyard fire, the mother hen would open her wings to protect the chicks as the fire raged. After the fire was over, the chicks would emerged unscathed from under the wings of the Mother hen that had died to protect them.
When He had insight into how Passion Weeek would end, Jesus likened Himself to that mother hen. He gathers us under the arms of the Cross and reminds us that as His Disciples we are also to find our cross and extend our arms for the sake of others.
Peter says, I was there. I saw what happened, I witness the sufferings, and share the Glory. Then He said, "You presbyters (elders) feed the flock of God." Jesus
said, I am the Good Shepherd. We sing, "Saviour like a Shepherd lead us. . . ."
Jesus says to those selected for ministry, You be Good Shepherds as well. . . .Don’t
Lord it over the flock, Lead by example.