What kind of shepherd?

Exodus 3:1-5

You know many Christians whose favorite words of the Bible come from Psalm 23. A calming assurance falls over us when we hear together, “the Lord is my shepherd.” And that’s because most of us aren’t acquainted with shepherds and sheep. 

But the image of shepherd is crucial to the Bible’s story.  

Quite often, the image highlights a ruler’s function over the people. That’s not to say people are sheep. But people do follow leaders. The Bible’s concern is what kind of leader the people have to follow. One will be a good shepherd guiding the people faithfully. Or one will go a different route. The difference isn’t just where they are heading. A good shepherd cares for the people.

Exodus 3 places Moses in the desert. It’s years after someone first asked him, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us (Exodus 2:14)? At that point, no one had.  But we already see some of the care Moses has for his people. Even if his first plan backfired. 

In the desert, Moses is a literal shepherd. His next experience with God shows us something about how he’ll shepherd God’s people later. 

I read intrigue, curiosity and wonder into his story. It’s not every day you see a burning bush that doesn’t burn up. Moses also demonstrated a readiness to serve. He didn’t say, “Look at me!” “Here I am,” was his simple reply. Now, the text doesn’t say, but it’s implied Moses listened to God’s command. We assume he removed his sandals as he recognized the holiness of the moment.

In a few verses, we already see some of what will matter to Moses in the future. We’ll see some of these same qualities play out later. And scripture remembers Moses as a faithful shepherd and prophet.

Especially in American culture, we pride ourselves on being our own people. There’s no follower-ship culture–it’s all about leadership. Okay, fine. If you’re going to be a shepherd to others, then, what kind will you be? It matters to our faith. And when you realize we all follow at some point, what kind of shepherds will you follow? That, too, matters to our faith.

Stay blessed…john

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John Fletcher

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