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#8 Following the Shepherd

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FOLLOWING THE SHEPHERD

(A Chosen People – Series in I Peter)

Westgate Chapel 11/19/00                                  I Peter 2:13-3:7

PROPOSITION:  As God’s chosen people were are not like lost sheep, wandering around doing as we please, but having returned to the Shepherd we follow the pathway of submission He prepared for us.

I. introduction

-     THE apostle Peter is writing to brand new Christians, scattered in Asia Minor, trying to find out what it means to live like God’s Chosen People in the Roman Empire.

-     SOME of the Christians had been raised in Jewish families and had a solid understanding of God and the Old Testament.

-     OTHERS were Romans, Greeks, and Syrians from a rough pagan upbringing….mixed in with the hedonistic religions of the period.

-     IN any event these Christians hadn’t been Christians for very long….and before they had come to Christ they had been just like the world around them….fiercely independent and doing what seemed right in their own eyes.

-     THE apostle Peter describes them in their pre-Christian condition in I Peter 2:25a,

      “For you were like sheep going astray…

-     EVER watched sheep that have been left to their own devices?

-     IF there is no shepherd and no fences the sheep end up all over the map.

-     THERE is no cohesion among them.  Each sheep seems determined to go their own way….

*     Some out of blissful ignorance, nibbling what is directly in front of them with their heads down…

*     Some out of stubbornness, refusing to go along with anyone else…

*     And some out of pure stupidity, too dumb to be mindful of their surroundings.

-     THAT is a picture of the condition of the world without God….the world you and I were a part of and maybe some of us still are part of that world.

-     LET’S go back to I Peter 2:25,

      “For you were like sheep going astray…but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

-     BUT the image of returning to the Shepherd of our souls is not just a nice safe cozy feeling.

-     WE have returned in order to FOLLOW!

-     FOLLOW where?

-     IN what way is Jesus leading us according to the apostle Peter in this text?

-     IN His submission to the will of the Father, even when He had to suffer unjustly.

-     VERSE 21 says that Christ left us an example. How?

-     LOOK at verses 22-24,

      “’He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.’ (23) When they hurled their insults at him, he did not retaliate; when he suffered, he made no threats. Instead, he entrusted himself to him who judges justly. (24) He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.”

-     WHAT do these verses teach us about Jesus?

-     THAT He was not a loose canon, using His authority as the Son of God to get His own way.

-     EVEN when He was unjustly insulted, spat upon, cursed, beaten and hung on a cross (and Peter was an eye-witness to every blow), He did not retaliate or threaten.

-     HE submitted Himself to the One who judges justly…to God the Father.

-     IN other words, Jesus submitted to what looked like a weak defenseless position because He would rather trust God.

-     AND this is the example, says verse 21, that we are to follow.

-     I KNOW it may seem odd to you to start a sermon with a verse tucked away in the middle of a lengthy passage,  but verse 25 holds the key to the whole passage (verses 2:13-3:7).

-     WHAT is the key?

-     JESUS is our shepherd.

-     WE are His sheep. We are no longer wondering around doing our own thing.

-     AND the specific example of the shepherd we are to follow is entrusting ourselves to Him who judges justly.

ii.   following the shepherD in matters of state

-     FOLLOW the Shepherd in matters of state!

-     HOW?

-     LOOK at verse 13 with me. This is the verse where Peter starts this whole theme of how we are to follow our Shepherd.

      “Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every authority instituted among men: whether to the king, as the supreme authority, (14) or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right. (15) For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.”

-     LET me summarize these three verses for you….follow the Shepherd be being submitted in matters of state.

-     MAN, this is a relevant lesson for the hour we find ourselves in!

-     THE Greek word for submission means to “rank yourself (come into line) under.”

-     YOU are not a loose canon, free to do your own thing out there in the United States of America.

-     THAT is how the sheep behave who are “going astray.” (Verse 25).

-     NOT you and me.

-     WE have returned to Shepherd and Overseer of our souls, and because of that we do not…

*     In blissful ignorance, nibble away at what is directly in front of us with their heads in the sand concerning our nation or city or county…

*     Out of stubbornness, refuse to go along with anything pertaining to the state…

*     Or out of pure stupidity, determine to do our own thing.

-     NO! We submit to every authority, whether king, governor, tax collector, parent, employer, policeman, or president.

-     PAUL picks up the same theme in Romans 13:1-2, where the Holy Spirit writes through him,

      “Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (2) Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.”

-     THE spirit of rebellion against authority is the spirit of Satan. Rebellion is his native language. It is what got him cast out of heaven.

-     THAT is why rebellion is so pervasive in the world, in every aspect of life. It is the spirit of Satan at work in the world.

-     AND the opposite spirit is the spirit demonstrated by Jesus, our example, and our Shepherd….the spirit of submission, even in the face of unjust suffering.

-     IN Romans 13 Paul addresses the negative and says that rebellion brings judgment on the rebel.

-     IN I Peter 2, Peter addresses it from the positive. He says that when you submit to the authorities of state you… silence the ignorant talk of foolish men.” (verse 15)

-     NOW, whenever the matter of submission comes up I think  there needs to be a couple of disclaimers made very clear:

1.   Biblical submission does not mean that there cannot be healthy disagreement and dialogue. In Acts 15 the church leaders had lengthy and heated debate on the matter of the Gentiles….but emerged in unity (obviously some in the debate finally submitted to the leadership position.

2.   Biblical submission does not include mindless obedience to things illegal, immoral, or unbiblical. In Acts 4 the Sanhedrin commands Peter and John to stop speaking in Jesus’ name and Peter said, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God.” (Acts 4:19)

iii. following the shepherd in matters of community

-     NEXT, Peter says that we are to follow the Shepherd of our souls in being submitted in matters of community.

-     LOOK with me at I Peter 2:16-21,

      “Live as free men…

-     JESUS did say that we would be free.

-     IN JOHN 8:36 He said,

      “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

-     FREE from what? In verse 33 Jesus said that the Son would set us free from slavery to sin.

-     IN Romans 6:22 Paul tells us that we have been set free from sin IN ORDER TO BECOME SLAVES TO GOD….and the benefit is eternal life.

-     WE are free from sin, free from trying to please God through our works, free from accusation of the devil, free from condemnation…

-     LET’S read on in I Peter 2:16,

      “…but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

-     OUR freedom cannot be a cover behind which we disregard the people in our community…and prosecute our selfish agendas…insisting on everything always being our way.

-     HOW do we live as servants of God? How do we follow the Shepherd of our souls?

-     VERSE 17,

      “Show proper respect to everyone: Love the brotherhood of believers, fear God, honor the king. (18) Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.”

-     THIS is submission, now not only to authorities of state, but brought down the level of the community in which we live and move every day.

1.   Show respect to everyone.

•     Another translation says “esteem highly.”

•     These believers were surrounded by some pretty deviant behavior in the Roman Empire. It would have been easy to be self-righteous and judgmental.

•     Peter points them to the fact that everyone is created by God in His image…no matter how marred the likeness has become.

•     This is the only one of the segments of our community where Peter uses the imperative. This is a command with urgency.

•     It flows from a spirit of humble and loving submission…considering others more highly than yourself (Romans 12:10).

•     It is how you follow the example of the Shepherd of your soul.

 

2.   Love the brotherhood of believers.

•     This is not individual believers, but the whole bunch, no exceptions.

•     All of our personalities together.

•     All of our giftings together.

•     All of our styles together.

•     But one body united in Christ Jesus….loved by you.

•     It is how you follow the example of the Shepherd of your soul.

 

 

3.   Employees submit to your boss in the workplace (verse 18)

•     The Greek word used here is not commonly translated slave, but servant.

•     The workplace would be a good equivalent today.

•     Submit to your employer. Rank yourself (come into line) under those over you….even when they treat you unfairly.

•     That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t try and address the matter….but it is the spirit in which you do that.

•     It is how you follow the example of the Shepherd of your soul.

-     LET’S read on in I Peter 2:19.

      “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. (20) But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. (21) To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.”

iv. following the shepherd iN matters of the family

-     I MAY come back and spend more time on this part of I Peter in a couple of Sundays…and actually team teach it with Rita…but I Peter 3:1-7 goes on to include following the Shepherd in matters of family,

      “Wives, in the same way be submissive to your husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, (2) when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (3) Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. (4) Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight. (5) For this is the way the holy women of the past who put their hope in God used to make themselves beautiful. They were submissive to their own husbands, (6) like Sarah, who obeyed Abraham and called him her master. You are her daughters if you do what is right and do not give way to fear. (7) Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.”

 

v. conclusion

-     FINALLY, I would like to direct your attention to the number of times Peter addresses the issue of motivation for a life of submission…in matters of state….in matters of community…and in matters of family.

-     I FOUND five references in these verses that I think will help you apply Jesus’ submission in your life.

1.   In verse 13, when Peter first addresses the subject of submission he says do it,

       “…for the Lord's sake.”

2.   In verse 15, when he mentions that your submission in matters of state will silence critics of the faith, he says,

      “…it is God's will.”

3.   In verse 17, where he tells us that we are to love the brotherhood of believers, in the same breath he says,

      “…fear God.”

4.   And in verse 19, where he says that it is commendable when we submit in the face of unjust suffering in the workplace, he says that it is because we are…

      “…conscious of God.”

5.   And the real key to the heart of submission boils down to trust in God rather than your ability to manage and control your future.

      “….entrusted himself to him who judges justly.”

-     GOD Himself is the motivation we need to live lives of submission and so glorify Him.

-     JESUS lived His earthly life as an example of submission to the will of His Father….even to the point of death on the cross.

-     MUTUAL respect, love, and submission characterizes life and flow within the Godhead as revealed in Scripture.

-     PETER sums it all up for us in verse 25,

      “For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

-     YOU once spoke the language of rebellion…the language of your father the devil.

-     BUT you have been changed through faith in Jesus.

-     THE old has gone the new has come (2 Corintians 5:17).

-     NOW you are the sheep of Jesus fold. You and I are following the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls….who gave us the most vivid example of submission as He laid down His life for His sheep.

-     IT is our turn to lay our lives down,

*     our wills,

*     our insistence on being right,

*     our determination to have our ideas prevail….and follow the Shepherd in matters of state and in matters of community.

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