“I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.”
Our problem as American Christians is not that we do not expect God’s goodness. We do. We expect that God will do good things for us. He will bless us, prosper us. He will heal our diseases, find us a job, keep our blessed ducks in a row.
Our problem, our sin, is that we expect far too little from God. We are satisfied with far less than God would give us. We are contented with the minor blessing of this world, rather than the major blessings of the world to come.
You see this in our culture’s satisfaction with fornication, pornography, and adultery. People are perfectly satisfied to get the momentary pleasures of random copulation rather than to receive the greater satisfaction of marriage, fidelity, and commitment. In other words people are satisfied with raw lust, rather than waiting for true love.
When it comes to the church we are satisfied with more money in the plate, more rear ends in the pews, and more peppy pastors. We are worried less about faith, hope, and love. We are satisfied to be entertained, rather than to be challenged. We are content to be appeased, rather than to be converted. We are satisfied with good feelings, rather than good news.
In Ezekiel 34 God promises the people of Israel that He will give them new and better shepherds. He will give them greener pastures. He will punish their enemies. He will be their God forever.
God will keep His promise. No more enemies. Better shepherds. Better pastures. Grace and abundance forever. It will happen. God has spoken.
And it does happen. The people are brought back from exile. They had been taken captive and held in the land of Babylon for a few decades, but then God sent them back home. He delivered them back to the greener pastures of Israel, back to the promised land. And, more or less, they were satisfied with that.
They were satisfied to have a king, a shepherd, who was their own. Forget that these kings and rulers were no David. They were not even descendants of David. At least they were Jews.
The Jews had many priests, many kings and rulers over the course of several centuries. They established a few new orders, the Pharisees, Sadducees, the scribes and elders. They obeyed the Law as best they could, and that was that. They were satisfied.
But God wanted to give them so much more. He wanted to raise up for them, not just any ruler, not just any old king, but the true heir of David, the rightful king, the Good Shepherd. They were happy to have their little local shepherds, when God wanted to give them His Son. He wanted to give them Himself.
And perhaps we can apply this lesson to the church today. Each congregation has its own little shepherd. And we can get a little too satisfied with that. We like our pastor and so we sit back content and relaxed.
Now, I want to tread carefully here, because on the one hand pastors are necessary. Pastors are called to do the work of God, to proclaim His Word. And that is where the problem lies precisely. We become satisfied with the man and forget about His work. Because His work is to give us something far greater than Himself. He gives us JESUS!
If you are satisfied with me because I can preach without notes, because I have a cute little family, or because I am a Saint Louis cardinals fan, then repent. Be satisfied with nothing less than Christ Himself coming from my mouth in Law and Gospel, in doctrine and practice, in every action and every phrase.
Pleasure is not the goal of human sexuality. Marriage and children are. Entertainment is not the goal of worship. Forgiveness is. Pastors are not the ultimate shepherds. Jesus is. Thanks be to God.
It was Jesus whom the Jews should have been looking for, but they missed Him by and large. While they were satisfied with these little shepherds, Pharisees and Sadducees, THE SHEPHERD was in their midst.
Jesus, their great Shepherd, led them to the greener pastures of God’s Word and fed them with truth and righteousness. He bore the weight of their transgressions to the cross and delivered them from their enemies of sin and death. He exited the grave so that His sheep might follow Him through death and into a life that will never end.
Why are we satisfied with less when God wants to give so much more? It is sin. Repent. And receive here the best stuff that God as to offer. Not a mere man dressed in a white robe, but a message, a promise from God.
Your sins are forgiven because of your Good Shepherd. God is pleased with your service because of Jesus. You will rise from the dead because of Jesus. And that, my friends, is where we shall be ultimately satisfied.
JESUS IS COMING BACK! The dead will be raised. Every sin will be forgiven. Every disease will be healed. Every weakness will be strengthened.
God gives us good gifts in this life, but they are not there to satisfy us, but rather whet our appetite. You think you have had a good marriage, just wait until the real bridegroom comes. You think that you have tasted food. Nu-uh, not until you feast with Christ in His kingdom. You think you have lived? No way, not until you have risen.
Take all of the good you have received from God, multiply it times one million, and then you are beginning to see the joy of just the first drop of the river of abundant life that Jesus will unleash when He returns. When you understand that, nothing in this world will truly satisfy you.
Yes, we can receive the gifts of marriage, the gifts of a faithful Church, or a good pastor, with joy. We can appreciate them. But we will never be satisfied with them.