11 “For thus says the Lord God: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. 13 And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. 14 I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. 15 I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. 16 I will seek the lost, and I will bring back the strayed, and I will bind up the injured, and I will strengthen the weak, and the fat and the strong I will destroy. I will feed them in justice.
17 “As for you, my flock, thus says the Lord God: Behold, I judge between sheep and sheep, between rams and male goats. 18 Is it not enough for you to feed on the good pasture, that you must tread down with your feet the rest of your pasture; and to drink of clear water, that you must muddy the rest of the water with your feet? 19 And must my sheep eat what you have trodden with your feet, and drink what you have muddied with your feet?
20 “Therefore, thus says the Lord God to them: Behold, I, I myself will judge between the fat sheep and the lean sheep. 21 Because you push with side and shoulder, and thrust at all the weak with your horns, till you have scattered them abroad, 22 I will rescue my flock; they shall no longer be a prey. And I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24 And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.
“If you want a job done right, you have to do it yourself!” The woman who said that to me was named Dorothy. She was my boss, and she was not happy with me. Dorothy was one of the most amazing people I had ever met. She passed the bar exam at the age of 21 when there were hardly any female attorneys. She went on to a career in the foreign service in the 1930’s, primarily in France. She was fluent. I think she may have been a spy, but she never told me any of that.
After the war she married and used her extensive contacts in in France to purchase antique furniture at fire-sale prices and sell it at exorbitant prices in Frontenac, Missouri, in a rambling multi-story store which was across from the posh shopping center. She hired seminarians because she thought she could trust us with expensive things. But we were not always so good at knowing just how Dorothy wanted things done. She had sent me upstairs to grab a piece of furniture to put out on display and I had grabbed the wrong piece. Furious, she stomped up the steps and pointed at the piece which was obvious to anyone with half a brain as the one she meant. In truth, I had grown up in rural Missouri and my ability to discern the differences in French furniture of the 17th century was not well honed. It all looked the same to me. It did not look the same to her.
God says that he will search for his lost sheep himself. He knows exactly what they look like. He has memorized their fingerprints and the color of their eyes. He has numbered the hairs of their heads. We do not look the same to God.
In the days of Ezekiel, God was angry with the shepherds whom he had appointed over the flock, the priests, the kings, and even prophets. Ezekiel must have felt this keenly. He was of the high priestly family himself. These words of judgment were meant for him. As one who exercises the pastoral office, this passage has always been a concern for me, but also a message of hope. This does not all rest on me. The shepherd will do it himself and is doing it himself. God knows my limitations and graciously allows me a place in his kingdom despite those failings. He appoints Jesus, the Son of David and his own Son, to this task. When he raised Jesus from the dead, it was for this purpose. Jesus rose so he couldkeep his loving, shepherding eye on you. He does it himself.