One time a preacher won the trip of a lifetime: An African safari. He was loving every minute of it. He saw rhinos, giraffes, zebras, everything you would hope to see. One day his guide said they were going to go with some villagers through the brush, banging sticks to chase a lion away from their village. It seemed perfectly safe, because there were so many in a line with him. The problem came when he was the one who found the lion. & instead of banging the sticks, making noise, & letting everyone know where the lion was, he ran. & the lion chased him. As he ran, he kept looking back, & the lion was keeping pace, like it was toying with him. Finally the pastor couldn’t run any more. He stopped & turned around. He dropped to his knees & prayed the only prayer he could think of. “Lord, make this lion a Christian.” When he was done praying, he looked up to see that the lion was praying. So he shouted, “Praise the Lord!” The lion looked up & said, “Sh! Don’t interrupt me. Where was I? Oh, yeah. Now I thank Thee for my food...”
How do we keep the lion from coming after us? Is that even a possibility? I when he does come to toy with us, is there a way out? Can we resist the lion?
1 Peter 5:1-11: So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: 2 shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; 3 not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. 5 Likewise, you who are younger, be subject to the elders. Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, 7 casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. 8 Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. 9 Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. 10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Peter begins by reminding us that he is an apostle, one who walked with Jesus, & who saw His sufferings first-hand. Therefore he is a future partaker on the glory that God will reveal. He encourages the elders as a fellow elder, but one whose authority is not to be questioned, as a leader of Christ’s Church.
Church leaders, or elders, were the first ones rounded up in times of persecution. They were the first ones imprisoned, tortured & executed. How the leaders responded to that persecution either encouraged or discouraged the believers.
The word “so” in verse 1 is similar to a “therefore”. It refers back to chapter 4:12-13, 19 Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ's sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed. 19Therefore let those who suffer according to God's will entrust their souls to a faithful Creator while doing good.
So, Pastor Peter tells the elders, shepherd the flock of God willingly, not because you have to, but because you want to. Don’t do it for the money, do it for the joy of seeing people grow in the Lord. Don’t lead in a bossy, dictating way, but in humility, as an act of service.
You might think this is just for the pastor, and yes, I am preaching to myself right now. After all, in 1 Timothy 4:13, Paul specifically addresses young Pastor Timothy when he says: Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
But we also need to see this in light of Romans 12:4-5: For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, 5 so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
You see, we are all in this together. We each are a part of the body of Christ, & we each have our part to play. Hebrews 3:13: But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.
We belong to each other, we are a part of each other, and we are responsible for each other. We exhort each other, in other words, we encourage each other, we lift each other up and challenge each other. We bear each other’s burdens, we weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.
That is what unity looks like in the body of Christ. We don’t run away from trouble, we don’t hide when someone needs help. Philippians 2:4: Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.
There is a reward for living in this way.
1 Peter 5:4: And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. A chief shepherd was one who was responsible to oversee a group of shepherds. Our chief Shepherd is the head of His Church, and the One to whom every spiritual shepherd is subject, whether the pastor of a church or the leader of a family. That is why it’s so important to stay in the Word, teaching carefully, so we know that what we are teaching is truth, whether in the church or in the home.
When He comes again, all who are following Him will receive a crown. In Peter’s day the Olympic Games might have already been going on in Greece for 1000 years. The winners would receive a crown, a garland that they would wear on their head. But it wouldn’t last. The crown that the faithful will receive from Christ is an unfading crown of glory. It will never tarnish or cease to shine.
In verse 5, Peter made sure everyone was included: You who are younger, be subject to the elders. Don’t just tolerate them, but listen to them, learn from them, make use of their wisdom in your life. Then Peter said: All of you, clothe yourselves in humility toward each other. In other words, don’t have a false humility. Instead put each other first. Because God honors those who give to each other in this way.
Verse 6 puts these last few verses in a nutshell: Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, but Peter doesn’t stop there. He goes on to give us an amazing invitation in verse 7: casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
The call to humble ourselves in verse 6 is present tense, but the reward is in the future. He WILL exalt you. But we aren’t left hanging with a future promise. Today, we can cast all our anxieties on Him, because He loves us, He cares for us. What is your greatest concern today? What is it that you think about most? Or maybe there are many small things that nag at you, causing you concern. They make you anxious. Cast them onto Jesus. He will bear them for you because of His great love for you.
In the depiction of Jesus’ crucifixion written 1000 years before Jesus was born, there is a phrase. It’s a statement of what the people around the cross would say about Jesus. It’s found in Psalm 22:8: “He trusts in the Lord; let him deliver him; let him rescue him, for he delights in him!”
There are 7 words for “trust” in the Old Testament. This is the only time this one is used. That phrase “trusts in the Lord” literally means “Roll it on Jehovah! Roll it on Him!”
Jesus trusted God so much that even in the darkness of the cross, when He was alone, separated from the Father for the first time in eternity, Jesus rolled His trust onto God the Father.
It’s the image of taking something that is so heavy that you could never lift it. For you it might be an anxiety. A burden that you have never been able to get rid of. You can’t deal with it alone. If it is up to you, that thing will be part of your life until you die. You can’t carry it away, you can’t even lift it. But you can roll it. Roll it onto Jesus. Cast your cares onto Him. He cares for you, He loves you, & once you give it to Him, He will never give it back.
Then, when you’ve given that thing to Jesus, it’s time to face the lion. Verse 8: Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
Be serious in your walk with Jesus. Don’t just give Him pieces of your week. Sunday morning is not a gift to God. He calls you to give Him your whole life. That’s what trusting is all about. If you can roll your cares onto Jesus, you also need to roll your trust onto Him. You will certainly need to do that if you are to face our enemy, our adversary, who goes around like a roaring lion.
Who is this great enemy? Peter calls him “the devil”. In the first 2 chapters of the book of Job, your version probably names him “Satan”. The Hebrew is literally “The Satan”, meaning “The Adversary” or “The Accuser”. The word “devil” means “slanderer”. Satan and his demons accuse God’s people day and night. They are the enemy who go around roaring like a lion.
But how much power does he really have? He accuses us with the truth of our past. He sometimes accuses us with half-truths. & he also accuses us with lies. But when he whispers to you that you are a sinner, just smile and whisper back, “Yes, saved by grace.” Our sins are buried in the deepest sea. Gone, never to be seen again. So when he comes to remind you of your past, as someone has said, remind him of his future. Tell him to go away in Jesus’ name. Or sing a praise song to Jesus. Nothing sends demons running faster than a praise song or a Scripture passage.
We discover in Job that Satan has to ask permission for what he does. His power is limited. Even he has to answer to God. Nothing in this life touches you unless it has first passed through your Father who loves you.
Peter portrays this adversary as a lion, prowling around, roaring. Yes, he is seeking to destroy lives. He wants nothing more than to ruin your reputation, or to make you feel unloved by God. He wants first of all to shipwreck your relationship with Christ. Then he wants to destroy your testimony to others. He prowls like a lion, biding his time, watching for an opportunity to strike when we are unprepared. He hopes we stop being watchful, so we can become his prey.
But a lion doesn’t roar when it is hunting. A lion roars to threaten and to frighten. There is another time that a lion roars. It roars to announce, “This is my territory. It belongs to me.”
That is why Peter said in verse 9: Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.
Our enemy wants to claim you and me as his territory. But resist him. Stand firm in the name of Jesus. If you feel alone in your struggle, know that brothers & sisters all around the world share your struggle. Why? Because Jesus was also tempted, and yes, He also struggled with human desires. He knew the sound of the lion’s roar. That’s why He sweat drops of blood in the garden. His very soul was tortured over the decision He had to make. But He resisted. “Not my will, but Yours, Father.” And with that, even though He knew He would be beaten, mocked, spit on, and crucified, He had already won the victory.
When we stand up to the lion and say, “No. I will not give in. I choose God’s will, not mine,” we too can claim victory. The lion no longer can roar his power over us. We become lion – proof.
Peter ended his letter with a great encouragement in verses 10-11: And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. 11 To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.