Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the three-year lectionary.
The Bible describes all sorts of divisions among people, and this week’s reading from Ezekiel 34:11-24 is no exception. Here God pictures people assheep, with some goats mixed in, not an unusual scenario. God is the one who gathers his scattered sheep together, bringing them healing and putting them in good pasture.
Why do some of the sheep need healing? They need healing because the other sheep, those who have become greedy and powerful, not only eat and drink, but also trample the food, pollute the water, and attack the weaker sheep. To combat this situation, God states his intention to gather the needy sheep, strengthen them, rebuke the powerful, and place them all under the care of a good shepherd, who will come from the line of King David.
Christians confess that this good shepherd is Jesus the Christ, and that by his mercy he brings forgiveness and grace to all who believe him. There will still be selfish and sinful divisions even within the Church. However, we are not left to our own devices to seek restitution. This merely continues the pattern of the strong enforcing their own victory. Rather, at the call of Jesus, we who have strength and resources give preference and care to those who cannot help themselves. In this way we make the provision of the Lord available to all. We make sure there is fresh water and good grazing for all.
You will notice that I have spoken entirely in the context of those who are trusting in Christ. While we can urge those outside of Christianity to love and serve their neighbors and to protect those who are defenseless, history has shown that those encouragements almost never work. The best we can hope for is that in Christ those who have been tormented by our unbelieving world can find a refuge, the pure water of the Word of God, and the good food for their souls found only in Christ. God’s people provide a safe place for those who have suffered at the hands of their larger society. Jesus himself calls all people to come to him for rst. This is the good news of God’s Word.
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