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Missions 101

What Does it Mean to Have a Pastor’s Heart? (Part 3)

Mar. 4, 2015By: Evan Burns

13c52f7a2d2b5536c7a83a67f807fdb3In Mark’s gospel Jesus’ heart to shepherd the sheep was principally expressed in the proclamation of the gospel, the announcing of the kingdom, and the call for repentance and faith (1:15).  Jesus unquestionably revealed His heart in exorcising demons and healing the suffering out of compassion (1:41; 9:22); nevertheless, the main reason for such miracles was that they demonstrated His unique identity and bore witness to His exclusive authority (2:1-12).  The text never states that Jesus ministered to people for the select purpose of meeting physical needs, healing, or exorcism, though He certainly worked such miracles with compassion.  His heart chiefly resolved to preach (1:38).  Even the miracle of feeding the five thousand was an offshoot of his compassion, not the objective of his compassion.  “When He went ashore He saw a great crowd, and He had compassion of them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.  And He began to teach them many things” (6:34).  

His stated resolutions in Mark disclose His heart for His sheep, of which all His under-shepherds ought to take note:  He came to preach (1:38).  He came to call sinners (2:17).  He came to give His life as a ransom for many (10:45).  Teaching was the center of His shepherding, and His unique identity was the center of His teaching.  And the cross was the illuminating center of His identity.  Jesus’ heart did not bleed with desire to serve any and every need.  The book What is the Mission of the Church? by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert has been very helpful in reflecting on this theme.  They make a strong case that ultimately Jesus’ heart was “the proclamation of the gospel through teaching, the corroboration of the gospel through signs and wonders, and the accomplishment of the gospel in death and resurrection” (57).

As His under-shepherds, we will never imitate Christ’s mission, but we must imitate His heart in bearing witness to what He has already done.  As His shepherds, we are not new incarnations of Him to people (contrary to trendy jargon from contemporary ministry philosophy); we are just the true Shepherd’s representative spokesmen, compassionately teaching the flock where to find Living Water, graciously proclaiming His good news, and affectionately imploring lost sheep to be reconciled to God (Jn 21:15-19; 2 Cor 5:20).  This is how the Chief Shepherd expresses His heart through His under-shepherds.  The Father’s heart desired to send the true Shepherd to a scattered flock so that by believing in His name the flock of God might find life (Jn 1:12).  The Chief Shepherd sent His under-shepherds with the same heart to bear witness to the One who is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:6; 21:15-19).  Shepherding is truth-love work; truth without love is deadening hypocrisy, and love without truth is shallow sentimentality.  Competence and character are foundational for shepherding and leading as Jesus would.  Competence and character are best friends, and the work of shepherding malfunctions if one is substituted for the other.  

"Competence and character are best friends, and the work of shepherding malfunctions if one is substituted for the other." - Tweet this

Tags:  pastor, mission, ministry
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