Continuing with the See the Bishop Shepherd and Bishop of our Souls

Chapter 3

         The Ministry of Our Shepherd

"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:18-19

Our Shepherd was anointed to minister to specific people. He came to the poor. [Destitute, broken of self-righteous prideful arrogance.] He came for those of a contrite spirit, who would hear and respond to the Word of God. So let us consider the heart of God for those broken by sin, who have a meek and contrite spirit toward God. They are broken by the fact that they have hurt their God who loves them. Jesus said to the Pharisees: "I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." Matthew 9:13 To Isaiah, God had said: "For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones." Isaiah 57:15 Praise God, He will receive every one who will humble themselves to Him. How grateful we should be that our Shepherd responded to our heartís need, rather than shun us for our wicked deeds. He came to restore and not to destroy. He would have us to have such a heart for the lost, as well as for His sheep and lambs that stray from the fold.

Our Shepherd was anointed for a specific mission. He came to heal the brokenhearted. Isaiah speaks of the broken needing to be bound up. Consider Hoseaís words. " Come, and let us return unto the Lord: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up." Hosea 6:1 Thank God, He came not to make examples by rejection and destruction, but to make examples through restoration to the glory of God. Praise God, no matter how far the sinner may stray, there is hope in Christ. There is no greater testimony individually or collectively of the power and grace of God than a transformed life in Him.

Our Shepherd came to deliver the captives of Satan and sin. "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7For he that is dead is freed from sin. ....For sin shall not have dominion over you: ... Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness." Romans 6:6-18 Praise God, our Shepherd came to us when we were captives of Satan and sin. He came to save us. He came to set us free and give us liberty. Liberty to live for Him, and serve Him with a heart full of thanksgiving for what He has done for us. Living for Him and serving Him, is the fulfillment of His will for us and the love His own have for Him. It is the only true way of worshiping our Lord and Saviour.

Our Shepherd came to bring sight to the blind. See Godís heart for the spiritually blind as God told it to Isaiah: "And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16 Praise God he does not cast off or drive away those who do not understand His leading, but keeps on leading them until they understand and follow Him. How grateful we should be for such a faithful, loving, and patient shepherd.

Our Shepherd came to set at liberty those who are bruised, crushed by the religious leaders. See Godís heart for those in religious bondage and those who keep them there. "But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone. 43Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets. 44Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them. 45Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also. 46And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers." Luke 11:42-46 Woe be to those that substitute religious works for liberty, putting Godís people back in the bondage of religion, when Jesus came to set them free. "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." John 8:36 The heart of God for people is not for them to be religious, but to have an intimate relationship with Him, one of love, and desire to be like Him, resulting in worship and service to Him. "And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy god require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul," Deut. 10:12 Consider the wordís of God: "For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings" Hosea 6:6 Consider the wordís God gave to Jeremiah: "But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord." Jeremiah 9:24

How wonderful it is that our God and Shepherd does not demand religious works for us to measure up to. He wants a personal relationship with us, and our desire to be like Him out of love and gratefulness for who and what He is. Those who know Him, love Him; and those who love Him serve Him, not in programs, but in life.

It is clear to see that the heart of God in the anointed ministry of Jesus Christ our great shepherd is to set people free. Free from sin and free from religion that they may be conformed to His image and likeness, suitable for His fellowship and service to glorify Him, that He might take pleasure in them. God is offering to set all people free that will come to Him anywhere, any time. "(For he saith, I have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I succoured thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.)" 2 Cor. 6:2

However, that opportunity will not always be there. For God said: "And the Lord said, my spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years." Genesis 6:3 God gave man a lifetime of 120 years to get their life right with Him before He accepted their rejecting Him; then His Spirit quit striving with them. Noah proclaimed the same opportunity for salvation from Godís coming judgment for 120 years. Then suddenly one day, God shut the door. All were lost who did not go in the ark while there was time. So it is today; if you are not saved, do not wait until it is too late, for after you die the door is shut, it is heaven or hell and there is no other opportunity for you. Jesus warned the acceptable year of the Lord was their present time of life. Likewise, there is no other time to serve the Lord who saved you but in this life, no other time to lead lost souls to Christ before it is too late for them, but now.

Our Shepherd came to preach the acceptable year of the Lord the year of liberty. Godís heart has always been to set man free from Gen. 3:15 to the year of Jubilee to His coming Kingdom and the lifting of the curse and final destruction of Satan. Jesus came to set you free consider "If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed." John 8:36

Jesus the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls declared this to be His anointed ministry. Notice it was planned by the Father, empowered by the Spirit, preformed by the Son. He came to heal the human race of its sin and of the anguish and misery that it brings through His preaching of the Gospel. Notice also, He did not come to take it away, but to heal it! In His day, the political climate was wicked, corruption and injustice were everywhere. But He did not seek to change it. It was no different in their religious life; it, too, was corrupt and those under the religious leaders were afraid to oppose them for fear of reprisal. He did not come to lead a rebellion and overthrow the establishment, political or religious.

Jesus did not come to change their circumstances, but to change them, and their response to their circumstances. Consider Paulís words "Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 4Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. 5For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ. 6And whether we be afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effectual in the enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer: or whether we be comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation. 7And our hope of you is stedfast, knowing, that as ye are partakers of the sufferings, so shall ye be also of the consolation." 2 Cor. 1:3-7

Christ turns our sufferings into opportunities to prove the reality of our faith and to demonstrate He lives in us and empowers us, that we might minister to others. "What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? 32He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? 33Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth. 34Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us. 35Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us. 38For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, 39Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Rom. 8:32-39. Consider the Apostle Paulís response to the circumstance in his life." For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. 9And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." 2 Cor. 12:8-10 If we look to the Lord to avoid suffering, do we not throw away the opportunity to demonstrate the reality of our faith?

Jesus anointed ministry was one of deliverance and restoration. His ministry of deliverance required more than words and pity it involved empathy.Consider  Hebrews 4:14-15 14 Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. 15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Just think of it! Putting Himself in our place, Mercy you see is always active, not passive. Jesus lived the law for us, suffered for us, died for us, that he might deliver us from the judgement of God. He restored our relationship with God. "And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ,..... 19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them;....Vs 21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.." 2 Cor. 5:18-19,21 "For He came not to do His will but that of His Father. Jesus said: "For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me" John 6:38

It is noteworthy to consider the will of the Father. Jesus said: "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 4I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 5And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 6I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 7Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 8For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me." John 17:3-8 Jesus manifested the Fatherís name unto the men both in word and in life. Consider Jesusí words: "If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. 8Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. 9Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father? 10Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. 11Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. John 14:7-11

Jesus, the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls did nothing in His ministry that was outside of the will of the Father. How deeply we should dwell on this passage that expresses the faithfulness of Jesus to His ministry as well as His love for us. "For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin....." 2 Cor. 5:21 Jesus who is holy, who knew no sin, was made to be our sin. I do not believe we can comprehend the awfulness of that experience for God the Father or His Son. I have often tried to illustrate this by asking those to whom I am speaking, to think of the most revolting, sickening, acts anyone can do. I then ask them how much love it would take for you to make their son that sin, and to put him to death for that act. So that the one who did such things might have life with the Lord? That is the love it took for God and our Saviour to do such a thing, to save us from our sin. How grateful we should be that Jesus so loved His Father and us to be so faithfully committed to the ministry His Father gave Him. Amen!

His ministry was also one of a watchman. "19To preach the acceptable year of the Lord." Luke 4:19 To bring the warning of wrath to come. The first coming of our Lord was in humble servitude to suffer and die for our restoration. The second coming of the Lord will be in power to execute the wrath and vengeance of God on the ungodly Christ rejecting world. "Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not" Luke 12:40 But when He does come, it will be that "Men's hearts failing them for fear, and for looking after those things which are coming on the earth: for the powers of heaven shall be shaken. 27And then shall they see the Son of man coming in a cloud with power and great glory." Luke 21:26-27

Consider Peterís warning: "This second epistle, beloved, I now write unto you; in both which I stir up your pure minds by way of remembrance: 2That ye may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us the apostles of the Lord and Saviour: 3Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, 4And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. 5For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: 6Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished: 7But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men. 8But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. 9The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. 10But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. 11Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, 12Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? 13Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. 14Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless. 15And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; 16As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction. 17Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness. 18But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen. 2 Peter 3:1-18

Jesus and His disciples warned them of their day and we should warn those of our day all the more. Amen!

Judgment is coming therefore Jesus said: "And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day." John 12:47-48 Notice, every word that Jesus spoke and went unheeded in our lives, will be our judge.

Jesus is a faithful watchman consider His Words: " And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 12While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost....." John 17:11-12

Jesus did not lose any of His sheep. "All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. 40And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day." John 6:37-40 

He kept them through the knowledge of God, manifesting the Father's name and will, by words and life. I wonder what He would say about many of the backdoor revivals of today?

In summary consider the Apostle Paulís evaluation of Jesus life and ministry. "And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross. 9Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: 10That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; 11And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." Philip. 2:8-11

Jesus life and ministry is one of a humble beginning to a glorious end, through love and obedience to the Father, no matter what His trials, His heartbreaks or disappointments. He never forsook the will of His Father for His life or ministry or the people He came to save. Jesus set His heart and mind on the completion of the ministry given Him by His father. "I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do." John 17

Consider the joy He must have had in those words. It would be well for every under shepherd to have such faithfulness, and resolve to the will of God for his life and ministry, as well as to those he was sent to. Faithfulness that would take them through the trials, heartbreaks and disappointments of the ministry, and still be able to say, "I finished the work thou gavest me to do". May that be the prayer of us all. Amen.

May your decisions bring you the promise Romans 8:28  ď And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.Ē   
Your friend in Christ Warren T. Smith

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