“For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.” Ezekiel 34:11
God loves His people and sends them shepherds, people who are tasked with caring for them. In the Old Testament these were prophets, priests, and kings. Each had a role: to teach the Israelites God’s Word, correct them when they strayed, and protect them from their enemies. Unfortunately, they didn’t do their jobs. Instead of serving the people, they neglected and abused them. God judged them, saying, “The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them” (Ezekiel 34:4).
The shepherds had not done their jobs, but God would not allow their failure to be the final word. A good shepherd was needed. One who would be completely faithful, who would seek out the lost and save them and bring them home. Who could do this work? God would not give it to anyone else, but He Himself would be the Good Shepherd of Israel. He would bear the office of Prophet, Priest, and King. He would speak the truth in love to the people. He would offer the sacrifice of His own body and blood to pay for the sins of the people. He would defeat the great enemies of the people: sin, death, and hell.
Jesus accomplished all this for us and continues to do so until the flock is moved to heaven.
The King of love my shepherd is,
whose goodness faileth never;
I nothing lack if I am His
and He is mine forever. Amen.
(The King of Love My Shepherd Is, LSB 709:1)