Text: 1 Peter 5:1-14
As Peter has done throughout the letter, he calls Christians to look to Christ, to be like Christ, to act like Christ. In this final chapter, he does this again, and we are to be like Jesus the Shepherd––humble and glorious. To imitate the Shepherd, Peter gives two primary exhortations. The elders are to shepherd the flock of God (vs. 1-4), and the flock of God is to resist the devil who is a roaring lion (vs. 8-9). How are church leaders to shepherd the flock and how is the flock to resist this lion? The answer lies in the middle verses, “Humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time” (vs. 6). As the church follows our Chief Shepherd, we follow him both into his humility and into his glory.
Shepherd the Flock (vs. 1-4)
Peter first exhorts the elders as a fellow elder to shepherd the flock of God like the Chief Shepherd Jesus. Peter has received a special commission from Jesus to shepherd his people and now relays this same commission to the elders of the churches in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadoceia, Asia, Bithynia, Moscow.
Peter lists three negatives and three positives for how elders are to oversee the flock of God. 1) Not by compulsion (forced or fearful), but willingly. 2) Not for dishonest gain (greedy), but eagerly. 3) Not lording your authority over others like normal rulers (might makes right), but being an example like the Chief Shepherd.
How did Jesus treat his flock? “Behold the LORD God shall come with a strong hand and his arm shall rule for him…He will feed his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those who are with young” (Isaiah 40:10-11). Jesus not only cares for his sheep but he fights against all who may harm his sheep (Ez. 34). Ezekiel charged the spiritual leaders of his day of being false shepherds who, instead of providing food for the sheep, ate the sheep for their own food, and wore their wool. A true leader puts himself in between his people and the danger. “I am the good Shepherd,” Jesus said, “The good Shepherd gives himself for his sheep” (Jn. 10:11). Peter now turns to the flock and exhorts them to be shepherded like this.
Humble and Exalted (vs. 5-7)
“Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to the elders.” An elder is one in authority and an elder is one under authority. If the sheep are not obeying the under-shepherds, then these shepherds need to look whether they are obeying their Chief Shepherd. Are you modeling humble submission?
Yes, everyone should be submissive to one another and be clothed with humility. This humility is a good thing because God opposes those who are not clothed with humility but gives grace to the humble. Is there anything more catastrophic than the omnipotent God opposing you? “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God that he may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon him, for he cares for you.” You humble yourself at the rim of the Grand Canyon or under the arms of the Milky Way galaxy or when you rightly contemplate God. Humility sees that God is God, and I am not. Humble yourselves under the hand of God, so that His hand may exalt you. We don’t humble ourselves for humility’s sake, but so that we can be given glory. God tells us how to achieve glory, and it’s through humility. Will you trust God and his humble way to glory?
Resist the Lion (vs. 8-9)
Peter gives a sobering caution––there’s a man-eating lion prowling your city. Though you may not see the lion, you hear him roaring. You may not see the devil, but you see the carcasses of his victims. And so be sober, be vigilant, resist the lion––you flock of sheep.
But what hope do sheep have against a lion? Only a humble faith. Resist the roaring lion, steadfast in the faith. James adds, “Resist the Devil and he will flee from you” (Js. 4:7). A young boy straight from the sheep pasture challenged a roaring giant and remained steadfast in his faith (1 Sam. 17:37). David had the humility to not look to his own strength or Goliath’s but to the Lord’s. He knew that the battle is the Lord’s, and so was steadfast. You may look like a boy versus a giant or a sheep against a lion, but that’s the story God loves to tell.
To Him be Glory and Dominion (vs. 10-11)
What was Jesus doing in his suffering and death on the cross? He was resisting! He was breaking the teeth of the lion, casting down the giant, crushing the head of the serpent, conquering the devil. In humble submission, he triumphed. The Shepherd became as a lamb to save his flock so that his sheep could have a Shepherd’s strength. Believe this. Humble yourself to this glorious truth. Remain steadfast in your faith.
What happens when you do? “The God of all grace, who called us into his eternal glory by Christ Jesus after you have suffered a while, perfect, establish, strengthen and settle you. To Him be the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”