The Chief Shepherd
1 Peter 5:1-4
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ…

I. THE TITLE WHICH IS HERE GIVEN TO CHRIST AS THE CHIEF SHEPHERD. The very name of "shepherd" is full of lustre and beauty, of condescension and grace. And whilst other names describe the different parts of Christ's work, and the various principles of Christ's character, this seems to combine them all. As Prophet, He was to teach His Church, to convey to it the lessons of Divine wisdom; as Priest, He was to make atonement for the sins of His people; as King, He was to rule over them in the gentleness and sanctity of His sway; but as He is the Chief Shepherd, we have the wisdom and goodness which instructs, the grace and mercy which unfolds, the power which rules, the authority which legislates, all in one.

1. He is called the Chief Shepherd. In relation, without doubt, to the inferior and subordinate shepherds. For the universal Church, in all its subdivisions, is His vast sheepfold, and the ministers of religion are the shepherds in subordination to Him. And, according to the manners of the East, and in ancient and early times, there was one — the Chief Shepherd whose own the sheep were. It is in reference to this, that Christ, in the passage before us, is called "the Chief Shepherd."

2. It describes, also, the dignity of His person, and the glory of His perfections. In every respect He is chief — chief among the angels, having a name as much more excellent than they, as His nature is more excellent than theirs. He is first among the priests: Adam was a priest, Abel, Enoch, Abraham, Melchisedec, and Moses were priests; and then come the descendants of Ham in their rank and order; but Christ is Chief Priest. So He is among the prophets; He infinitely transcended Moses. He is so among the kings; "King of kings and Lord of lords," the blessed and only Potentate, whose power and splendour overwhelms them all. And so He is among the shepherds — the Chief Shepherd, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and ending.

3. He is Chief Shepherd also in having set a perfect example of a shepherd's duty in watchfulness, care, and love. What instructions He delivered; with what authority, dignity, and power!

4. And, finally, He is called Chief Shepherd on account of His exaltation and majesty in the heavenly world. He has a name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.

II. THE APPEARANCE WHICH HE SHALL HEREAFTER MAKE IN GLORY; and the word "appear" denotes that He is now hidden. The God of this world has blinded the eyes of many, that they neither see nor believe. And as it respects bodily vision, He is hidden also from His own people; for we walk by faith and not by sight.

1. But the passage before us speaks of His appearance; He is to be made manifest. As the heavens were opened at the baptism, and the Holy Ghost descended visibly in the shape and appearance of a dove, so are the heavens hereafter to be opened, and the Chief Shepherd will appear and descend again.

2. And respecting the time of this appearance, it is reserved in the bosom of heaven, as a deep secret — not one of the holy angels is permitted to know — not one of the spirits of the just made perfect, have any more apprehension of the time of the second advent than you or I have.

3. Respecting the purpose of His coming. It is not to teach, to suffer, and to die; this He did once, and will do it no more. He will come, it is said, without a sin offering unto salvation; He will come to accomplish the resurrection of all the dead.

4. And as to the manner of the Advent. I take it that all which was seen and heard at Sinai, the greater revelation of Divine power and justice, when the sign of the Son of Man was seen in heaven, and Jerusalem was overturned, is but a faint type and foreshadow of that which shall then be. Oh, all miracles, all prodigies of Divine power, which have taken place from the beginning of the world to this day, will be as nothing amidst all the miracles which shall then be accomplished. It will be a day of God emphatically, in which it will he seen what God can do.

5. And now let those of us who are in the ministry learn what we are to look for. Contempt there may be from men, but there will be honour of God.

(J. Stratten.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed:

WEB: I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and who will also share in the glory that will be revealed.

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