Serving Jesus as Shepherds

Last week we heard about the focus and commitment expected of every single follower of Jesus.

This Sunday, July 3, 2022, our readings focus in on the special tasks and responsibilities given to those Jesus calls to be shepherds of his people and ministers of the Gospel.

In our Old Testament Lesson the Lord uses vivid picture language to tell Ezekiel what his responsibility was to be: Then I looked, and I saw a hand stretched out toward me, and in it there was a rolled-up scroll. 10He unrolled it in front of me, and there was writing on both sides. Written on it was: Laments, Groaning, and Woe. Then he said to me, “Son of man, eat what you have received. Eat this scroll, and then go, speak to the house of Israel.” 2I opened my mouth, and he fed me the scroll. 3Then he said to me, “Son of man, feed your stomach and fill your belly with this scroll that I am giving you.” I ate, and in my mouth it was sweet like honey. 4He then said to me, “Son of man, go now to the house of Israel and speak my words to them.” The Prayer for the Word which has closed many a Sunday service begins, “Blessed Lord, you have given us your Holy Scriptures for our learning. May we so hear then, read, learn, and take them to heart….” The older members among us may remember the old wording, namely “read learn and inwardly digest them.” That wording came from the picture in this Old Testament reading. It is especially true of prophets and preachers that they must first learn and know the Word before they can properly proclaim it.

In our Epistle Lesson Peter reminds his fellow pastors, “Shepherd God’s flock that is among you, serving as overseers, not grudgingly but willingly, as God desires, not because you are greedy for money but because you are eager to do it. 3Do not lord it over those entrusted to your care, but be examples for the flock. 4And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive an unfading crown of glory.”

These two lessons were chosen to complement the appointed Gospel Lesson which is the account of Jesus sending out the 72. Luke is the only evangelist who tells us about this. These 72 were sent on a very specific short-term mission and given instructions which applied only to this mission trip. Whereas Jesus told the 12 when he sent them on a training mission to only preach to the Jews, the 72 are not given any such orders and they will also cross the Jordan river into Perea. As Jesus had cast out Legion across the Jordan, so also these men would cast out demons. In fact, when they reported back at the end of their tour of duty, they were amazed the demons had also responded to them just as they had to Jesus. But Jesus urged them, “Do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names have been written in heaven.”

Our sermon this week will focus on the Gospel Lesson under the theme: “Rejoice That Your Names Are Written in Heaven.”

This Week’s Lessons:

Ezekiel 2:9—3:11

1 Peter 5:1–4

Luke 10:1–12, 16–20