Jump Start # 2800
Matthew 4:11 “Then the devil left Him; and behold, angels came and began to minister to Him.”
Before we get to our thoughts today, we have reached yet another milestone. Today is Jump Start # 2800 which is hard for me to believe. I never thought when this little journey began that it would continue this long. Our readership continues to grow and I am hearing from so many of you that it touches my heart. I know that the past several Jump Starts have dealt heavily with the subject of death. I have been in a long season of death recently. I hope it has not been too wearisome for you. Just a couple of reminders, we now have 26 Jump Start books on a variety of topics. They are always free. Just reach out to me. Second, you help us by sharing these with others. Word of mouth is how we have always grown our Jump Starts. And, one important final thought, thank you. If you were not reading these, I would stop writing them. I hope in some small way these have helped you on your journey with the Lord. We are blessed!
Our verse today comes at the end of Jesus’ temptation. For forty days the Lord was alone with Satan. The devil tried a number of attacks upon Jesus. His goal was to get Jesus to sin. The sinless sacrifice would be lost had Jesus caved in to the appeals of Satan. But Jesus didn’t. He was tempted, but He never sinned.
And, here, in this verse we find a contrast. The devil left and the angels came. Temptations ceased and help arrived. Within this passage we find this interesting concept, that the angels ministered to Him. The Common English says, “angels came and took care of Him.” I like that. Jesus was hungry. He was tired. He was alone. Angels came and helped. We are not told what the angels did, but they were Heaven’s help.
But right here is a powerful thought that too often we don’t see. Jesus, the chief shepherd, the high priest, needed help. We tend to think that Jesus never needed anything from anyone. But He was served by angels. God sent the angels to minister to Him. Now, if there were times that Jesus needed to be served and ministered, what about our shepherds today? Who takes care of the shepherds? Who shepherds the shepherds? Or, who takes care of them?
First, it is easy to assume that since the shepherds are qualified, experienced, knowledgeable leaders, that they do not need any help. It’s easy to think that they never have a bad day. It’s easy to assume that they are always zealous, passionate and encouraged. It’s easy to believe that they are there to help others, but they do not need any help themselves. And, with these false assumptions, many shepherds suffer. They don’t know who to go to. They don’t know who can help them. Discouraged and feeling alone, many step down and away from the work of leading God’s people.
The work of shepherding is not about paying bills and making decisions about what color to paint the church building. Those that are doing that are not engaged in the right work. If that is their concern, they ought to serve as deacons and not shepherds. The role of elders is to lead, guide and protect the people of God. Their concern is the welfare of the people. And, people can be problems. We can be stubborn. We can refuse to listen. We can be weak, worldly and opinionated. We divorce. We divide. We dance with the devil, and drink from the cup of error. The church sometimes looks like a house full of teenagers. There must be nights when the shepherds wonder, “will they ever grow up?” Or, “Is anyone really trying?” The toll can be heavy. The problems many. And, feeling the burdens, the shepherds can be crushed by the responsibilities before them. Don’t assume they don’t need help.
Second, because of the sensitive nature of working with people, shepherds cannot really tell others what is going on in their hearts. They carry these secrets. Even among their own family, they say little. They do this to protect the people they are trying to help. They also do this to protect their own families. They do not want to discourage them. So, much of what the shepherd does is not known outside the eldership.
One might conclude then, that they are on their own. They signed up for this and this is what comes with it. But, that just doesn’t fit with the rest of the nature of the N.T. where we help, encourage and bear one another’s burdens. I do not find that shepherds are excluded from those passages. They need help. If angels ministered to Jesus, then who will minister the shepherds?
Here are a few of my thoughts:
- The shepherds need to have a close relationship with the Lord. This is a given for what they do, but it is something that is so important. Look at David when chased about the country by Saul and later when his own men turned on him. It was during this period that so many of the powerful Psalms were written. He is reaching out to God. This must be first. You are not alone in your work. You have help and you have the best help. God sent angels to Jesus, He didn’t send Peter, James and John. God can help in ways that no one else can. Spend some time in deep reading of the Psalms and some deep prayer. It will help you to see clearly and it will help your heart.
- The shepherds need to have a close relationship among themselves. No one knows as much as they do and no one understands all that is at stake as much as they do. Their relationship ought to be close. Among each other they ought to be transparent, open and rely upon each other. The eldership as a unit or a whole is to shepherd the individual elder. They are there to help him as much as they would anyone else in the congregation. Some may feel that if they express some concerns, fears, or troubles, that their qualifications and place in the eldership may be questioned. It shouldn’t. We all face trials and turmoil. No one is perfect and the only Perfect One, Jesus, had help from angels. I’ve seen elders get so tired and weary that they resign on the spot and no one else had a clue. Help each other. The stronger you make the eldership, the better it will be. If one of the shepherds cannot come to the other elders, how is it that a member will come?
- As a congregation, we need to be more of a help than a burden to the shepherds. We can complain too much. We can pick apart their decisions and all we do is make matters worse. Pray for those men who lead you. Let them know that you love them and support them. And, without revealing any details, they need to have someone to talk to. Everyone needs that. Preachers need that. We need to be able to talk openly without fear of being judged or ridiculed. It may be that the shepherd needs to reach out to a friend in another congregation.
- Shepherds need to be willing to listen to what they tell others. The same advice is good for them. Don’t let image, pride or fear keep you from getting help when you need it.
Shepherding the shepherd—that’s a great thought. It ought to be as normal as anything else in our walk with the Lord.