Reading: Jeremiah 23: 1-6
Jeremiah expresses God’s anger towards those who have allowed the people to wander from God and to be scattered. There is the implication that the leaders have acted in ways that lessened the peoples’ faith. “Destroyed” is the term used in one translation. If we look back just one chapter, we find the story of evil kings who have lived far from God’s ways. Not only did they not tend to the flock, but they led them astray, through idol worship and godless living.
God proclaims punishment on the poor leadership. At the same time, the loving God promises to gather up the flock. God will return the poor sheep to the pasture they were intended to live in – to faith in God alone. God states that here, back in a right relationship with God, they will prosper and be fruitful and will increase in number. God will bless them. In this way God seeks to return humanity to the original intent: created in God’s image, living in Union with God.
This is God’s desire for us as well. As the new sheep of God, we too are prone to wander, to stray. God continues to work to bring us back to our faith and to dwelling in the pasture of God. In Jeremiah we see the promise of a future King, one of the line of David. Unlike the Kings of Jeremiah’s days, this King will rule wisely and with justice and righteousness. This King will be named Jesus.
In Jesus, our good shepherd, we have the image and love of God lived out in the flesh. Through a personal relationship with Jesus, we come to live in union with God and to understand God’s love for us. In Jesus, we have a king we can look up to. In Jesus, we have a king whose example we can follow. And through Jesus, the gift of the Holy Spirit comes to continually shepherd, guide, and protect us, drawing us ever closer to living a life worthy of our King, Jesus Christ. Each day may we faithfully follow Christ and His example, ever seeking to bear witness to God’s love and mercy.