“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” (Jeremiah 23:5, ESV)
Jeremiah refers to the King of Judah and his officials as shepherds. Although they had consulted Jeremiah, they did not like what he had to say. They then consulted other prophets who told them what they wanted to hear, those things that made them feel better because they did not chastise them for their sinfulness nor threaten them with God’s judgment. Jeremiah condemned these false shepherds. These men were in charge of God’s people, but they failed to serve Him or set a good example and thus lead the people to Him. The good news is that one day the true shepherd will come who will save God’s people from their sins.
That good news of the gospel is that this shepherd is Jesus. He judges sin but extends mercy. Today this gospel message goes out from many churches, but many people do not want to hear it because they do not want to be told they are sinners. They do not want to be told they need to repent, forsake their idols, materialism, sensuality, and false religions, or be loving to their fellow human beings. Thus when we Christians preach the exclusive nature of salvation through faith in Jesus alone, when we testify to the sinful nature of all human beings, we are criticized and condemned. Consequently, many Christian leaders, false shepherds, have caved in from the public pressure to apologize for such statements and thereby have compromised the truth. Yet Christians should stand fast against lies, wickedness and idolatry. After all, we are not here to win a popularity contest, but to warn sinners to flee from destruction. As we warn them of God’s judgment, however, we must also tell them of His grace by presenting them the means of salvation that He offers: faith in Christ Jesus.