Reading for Tuesday, Feb. 28: 1 Peter 5
Peter’s exile language calls to mind Israel’s wilderness experience. Just as God called Moses from the flocks of Midian to shepherd His people toward the Promised Land, so too has God called for shepherds over His flock in the church. These shepherds (also called “elders”, 1 Peter 5.1) serve under the leadership of “the Chief Shepherd” (5.4), the Overseer of their souls (2.25). In his book “Shepherds After My Own Heart”, Timothy Laniak coins the phrase “under-shepherds” to describe the work of these men. They exercise pastoral leadership and care for the flock, never losing sight of the fact that this occurs under the broad overarching umbrella of the Lord’s shepherding. Under-shepherds understand that they are stewards of God’s flock, serving eagerly and willingly.
In the same way, Peter calls the young men to submission to the older men. As we’ve said a few times now, submission is a significant theme in Peter’s writing. God’s leaders are, first and foremost, followers. They are people who have humbled themselves before God (5.6), trusting Him to lift them up. This is the Gospel, this is faith, this is baptism, this is life with God — the humble death of the old man; the glorious resurrection of the new creation.
Peter closes with a call to awareness. “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour,” (5.8). The forces of evil are at work in our world all the time and we would be wise to be on guard against wickedness. Peter encourages self-control (5.8) and perseverance (5.9) in this struggle against evil. But God’s exiles also move forward armed with this final promise: “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (5.10)”