Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder and witness of the sufferings of Christ, and a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed,1 Peter 5:1(NASB)
Compassionate Christian conduct, a humble Christ-like attitude, godly and gracious service, and a childlike faith that finds its strength in the Lord when faced with suffering and pain, brings Peter to the point in his epistle where he charged Church elders with new and important responsibilities, "Therefore, I exhort the elders among you, as your fellow elder, and witness of the sufferings of Christ, to care for Christ's flock. I appeal to you elders, as a partaker also of the glory that is to be revealed - to shepherd the flock of God among you."
Because of their new birth and position in Christ, their future inheritance, their identification with Christ's holiness, and their Christian standing in the community, these elders in the Church are exhorted by Peter to take care of their brothers and sisters in Christ. They are commanded to shepherd the people of God.
Peter was one of Christ's chosen apostles who was naturally an authority figure in the early Church, but he was also one who denied His Lord three times - and yet three times he was called by Jesus to "Feed My sheep" - to care for the flock of God and to provide for the little lambs that needed nurturing, nourishment, encouragement, and training.
Peter was one who had himself followed the true Shepherd of Israel, and heard Christ proclaim, "I am the good Shepherd," for He laid down His life for the sheep. Peter was also aware that false teachers had surreptitiously infiltrated the Church of God. He knew how important sound doctrine and correct interpretation of Scripture was. Peter knew how needful it was for the flock of God to be correctly fed and nurtured by godly men - for he himself had been nurtured, nourished, trained, and encouraged, by his heavenly Master.
And as the time for his departure drew ever closer, Peter wanted to ensure that those who had grown in grace and matured in the faith, were equipped to continue Christ's ministry of reconciliation, and to care for the flock of God - and so he spoke directly to the elders of the Church who had the authority over God's people. He gave them specific instructions - to feed God's sheep and Christ's little lambs - and care for the flock of God.
But there is a tender note of humility and grace in this directive from the Lord's chief apostle, for he addressed himself as their fellow elder. Because of his closeness to Jesus, Peter could have elevated himself above all other Christians. He could have considered himself to be more important to God than his fellow believers. But Peter acknowledged that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ and that God is no respecter of persons - and so Peter calls on his fellow elders to take the responsibility entrusted to them, to care for their Christian family, seriously and conscientiously.
Peter also wanted to demonstrate that eldership in the body of Christ is not to be paved with praise. The heavy responsibility of eldership in the Church is too often plastered with pain and overlaid with persecution for the sake of Christ.
Peter had watched the sufferings of Jesus, but he had also witnessed His Master's glorification on the Mount of Transfiguration. He could testify as an eye-witness of His glorious majesty and remember His triumphant resurrection from the dead. Peter was there when Christ supernaturally ascended into heaven - where TODAY, He remains seated at the right hand of the Majesty on High.
The way that Peter addressed his fellow elders, as he sought to equip those that came after him in proclaiming the gospel of grace, forwarding the cause of Christ, and feeding the flock of God, demonstrates true, Christian humility, and a life that is dedicated to equipping others to carry on the message of salvation by grace, through faith in Christ Jesus our Lord
Peter was a man who pointed others to Christ, and he was one we should all seek to emulate, as we die to self, live for Christ, and press on towards the goal of the upward call of God, in Christ Jesus our Lord - for His ultimate praise and everlasting glory.
Heavenly Father, thank You for these instructions to church elders, to feed the flock of God with sound, biblical doctrine, and to take responsibility for the nurturing and encouragement of our brothers and sisters in Christ. Help each one of us to grow in grace and in a knowledge of You, and may all Your children live humbly and walk circumspectly before You, throughout our Christian life. Thank You, Father, that You are no respecter of persons and are ready to use any one of us who is willing to be used, and looking to Jesus as the Author and Finisher of our faith - even me. Give me opportunities to shepherd and nurture those that are weaker in the faith than I, and excite in me a desire to learn from elders and officials in the church, who are fulfilling their God-given role within the body of Christ. Give me a spirit of humility and grace to finish the race that is set before me, and may I do all to Your greater praise and glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.
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