Schafe können sicher weiden
J. S. Bach

Schafe können sicher weiden             Sheep may safely graze and pasture
Wo ein guter Hirte wacht.                    In a watchful shepherd’s sight.

(Third in a series.)

Previously, I stated our thesis: “Today’s fathers and mothers need shepherds every bit as much as the fathers and mothers gathered around our Lord when He pitied them for their lack of shepherds, and taught them.”

Note that well: Jesus looked out over all the fathers and mothers who were “harassed and helpless,” and He taught them. Mature adults need the protection of shepherds, the feeding of pastors.

Much of the four Gospel accounts of our Lord’s ministry is simply recounting how and what He taught them: out in the valleys and hills of Galilee and on the shores of the Sea of Galilee, He fed them parables, many warnings, the Sermon on the Mount. And yes—food-food. Bread and fish.

Pulpiteers hadn’t taken over the church’s preaching and teaching yet, so the fare was forthright and personal. After all, the backbone of his troupe of disciples was fishermen. The highly educated religious leaders of the time referred to His Twelve dismissively as “unschooled, ordinary men.”

Jesus kept His feeding basic and aimed it at the conscience of the sheep, warning, encouraging, rebuking, and again warning them. He never stopped calling them to embrace the Kingdom of God—through repentance and faith.

In our day when nationalistic fervor brewed by heated eschatology has taken over much of the Church in North America justifying itself by pointing to the Kingdom of God, we must be careful here. Jesus didn’t bring in His Kingdom by growing a beard, smoking cigars, drinking bourbon, and throwing out streams of provocations eliciting jeers and cheers from his acolytes. Jesus did not train His Twelve to be provocateurs, calling the rabble to rouse and kick out the tyrants.

Jesus preached the Kingdom of God and His method was directly opposite to the utopian millenarians who have been preaching their political revolutions for two millennia, now. (All of them, of course, doing so while declaring to their fellow rebels that it is Christ’s Kingship they are bringing in.)

Never forget that Jesus’ preaching didn’t rouse His followers to march on Herod or the Sanhedrin, in Jerusalem. It was His followers’ consciences Jesus awakened and the fruit of their repentance and faith He sought.

Yes, He was King of the Jews. He admitted this to Pilate, but then added, “My kingdom is not of this world.”

Some present-day millenarians try to sidestep this by claiming Jesus simply meant His kingdom didn’t originate here on earth; that it wasn’t given to Him by “this world.”

But when we add in all the other evidence of Jesus’ rejection of worldly power including telling Peter to put up his sword, reminding His disciples of the armies of Heaven He could have called down, and paying His tax using money pulled from the mouth of a fish, it becomes humorous listening to the common attempts today claiming the opposite. Many of our millenarians preach to their followers that Jesus’ Kingdom IS of this world—that it just doesn’t COME from this world.

Ideologues twist Scripture. It’s always been so, and correcting their lies is a never ending work. Still, when so many of our brothers are promoting this dishonest explanation of Jesus’ words in service to their own worldly aspirations, let us submit ourselves to that great Reformed exegete, John Calvin concerning Jesus’ words to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36):

By these words …he declares, that there is no disagreement between his kingdom and political government or order; as if he had said:

“I am falsely accused, as if I had attempted to produce a disturbance, or to make a revolution in public affairs. I have preached about the kingdom of God; but that is spiritual, and, therefore, you have no right to suspect me of aspiring to kingly power.”

This defense was made by Christ before Pilate, but the same doctrine is useful to believers to the end of the world; for if the kingdom of Christ were earthly, it would be frail and changeable, because the fashion of this world passeth away (1 Corinthians 7:31).

…the kingdom of Christ, in which we ought to seek tranquillity, is separated from the world.

Away then with all those taking the Name of Jesus in vain to justify their hankerings after political power. But make no mistake that we, too, grieve over the state of rulers and authority today. We, too, grieve over the moral dissolution and degradation taking the Western world by storm—but more, our own beloved United States of America. We, too, mourn all the lies and oppression and bloodshed. We, too, fight against them.

But we do not fight against the evil by preaching the millenarianism that is a steady stream through the twenty centuries since our Lord denied His Kingdom was of this world; our Lord Who, instead, planted His Church, promising that the gates of Hell would not prevail against Her.

Moving on, since Jesus didn’t call down His ten-thousand angels, was He powerless? Did having no worldly, earthly aspirations leave Him no threat to the rulers?

Not at all. In fact, the proof of the power of His preaching was the religio-political leaders consistently opposing Him, then plotting against Him, and finally murdering Him. Awakening of consciences followed by repentance and faith was a much greater threat to the authorities than the constant stream of zealots trying to scare up rebellions against Rome’s tyrannies.

The preaching of repentance and faith in the Name of Jesus has always been the Divine conspiracy that shakes the pillars of earthly power; that demonstrates the mighty power of God and that actually brings in the Kingdom of God.

Our Lord didn’t call for rebellion against the authorities of the time. He did something much more dangerous. He fed the sheep so they were awakened to the state of their own souls, thus leading them into the green pastures and still waters of the Kingdom of God.

And the door to our Good Shepherd’s green pastures and still waters has always been repentance and faith in the precious blood of God’s Own Spotless Lamb.

(Third in a series.)

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Image is “Jailoo” by CharlesFred, licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0.

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