30 jThe apostles returned to Jesus and told him all that they had done and taught. 31 And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat. 32 And they went away in the boat to a desolate place by themselves. 33 Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they ran there on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. 34 When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.
The sacred duty of a shepherd is defined here in the gospel of Mark. A shepherd is to teach the sheep. This meaning is often not understood carefully. The most common meaning is to provide pastoral care. While it is certainly not wrong that one of the shepherd’s duties is to provide pastoral care, surely it is not the only thing a shepherd does. Most importantly, the Bible itself has provided a clue as to the meaning of shepherding. Here in Mark 6:34, teaching is the instinctive duty of a shepherd. For immediately as Jesus saw that the people were like sheep without a shepherd, his first action was to teach them. This then establishes the important truth that the sheep are always in need of being taught by the shepherd. Without teaching, even though there is pastoral care, the sheep would be considered without a shepherd. Without teaching, even though there is provision of basic physical needs (food, clothing, and shelter), the sheep would be considered without a shepherd. Without teaching, even though there is medical care or healing ministry, the sheep would be considered without a shepherd. All other duties a shepherd does cannot match the importance of teaching.
The world is now upside down, however, for the tendency of many churches and seminaries today is to place pastoral care as the main duty of a shepherd and thus sets aside teaching. As soon as pastoral care becomes the main duty, the work of shepherding is jeopardized. Furthermore, given the direction of pastoral care to emphasize counseling, psychology dominates the work of shepherding. The scope of pastoral care too has been expanded to include all other physical needs, basic and medical. The goal is for the comfort of the person in need of pastoral care. This is not a bad goal actually. But the problem is when all is only directed toward the physical and worldly comfort. Very soon physical and worldly comfort would take over and that is the only focus their minds are occupied with. Any other thing becomes auxiliary. This is where they got it upside down, of which the most important shepherd’s duty becomes neglected. Teaching becomes secondary or even sidelined to the very bottom. What is sadder is that often teaching is not even touched. All energy, effort, resources, everything would be concentrated for physical and worldly comfort. And for this, the Scripture has taught us that such direction for shepherding is a mistake.
Meeting physical need can be the proximate starting point, and it often is, for shepherding work. For sure it is an excellent door toward getting into the sacred duty of shepherding. But it should not be the sole focus. The main goal should go beyond the worldly need. The main goal should reach to the spiritual realm. And to achieve the spiritual maturity, one cannot attend the physical need and be done with it. The one thing God has provided to attain spiritual maturity is through teaching. But teaching is the most difficult task anyone can take up, especially when the audience is adult. Let us consider what happened when Jesus moved to provide physical need to spiritual need (teaching). John 6:12-15 observes:
12 And when they had eaten their fill, he told his disciples, “Gather up the leftover fragments, that nothing may be lost.” 13 So they gathered them up and filled twelve baskets with fragments from the five barley loaves left by those who had eaten. 14 When the people saw the sign that he had done, they said, “This is indeed the Prophet who is to come into the world!” 15 Perceiving then that they were about to come and take him by force to make him king, Jesus withdrew again to the mountain by himself.
This event followed immediately after the feeding of the five thousand (John 6:1-11). This miracle became the reason for the people to force Jesus to be their king. Jesus knew their motif and he withdrew. What was so bad about wanting to make Jesus king?, one might ask. Take a look at John 6:22-26:
22 On the next day the crowd that remained on the other side of the sea saw that there had been only one boat there, and that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, but that his disciples had gone away alone. 23 Other boats from Tiberias came near the place where they had eaten the bread after the Lord had given thanks. 24 So when the crowd saw that Jesus was not there, nor his disciples, they themselves got into the boats and went to Capernaum, seeking Jesus. 25 When they found him on the other side of the sea, they said to him, “Rabbi, when did you come here?” 26 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs, but because you ate your fill of the loaves.
Why their motif to make Jesus their king was bad? It was because they focused only on the physical need. They thought of Jesus only as provider of their physical needs. How handy would it be to have a king who can perform miracle like Jesus could do? The implication was then that they did not need to work anymore. All their needs would be provided by Jesus just by flicking his fingers. They needed not to worry about bread or any other physical things they needed. They wanted Jesus to be their king so Jesus could keep giving them bread as he did last time. So Jesus had to teach them:
27 Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.” (John 6:27)
So Jesus jumped from providing them physical food to providing them spiritual food. The physical food will not last. Why waste our entire life for the pursuit of things that perish? Jesus taught them to work for the things that won’t perish. So they responded:
28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” (John 6:28)
And to that question, Jesus gave the key to eternal life:
29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” (John 6:29)
This is the key to eternal life, to have faith in Jesus. For Jesus is the Word himself. Jesus said in Matthew 4:4:
4…. “It is written,
“ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ”
Jesus was tempted by the devil to focus on the physical food. He was unmoved. He pointed to the more and most important, which was the word of God. And in John 6, Jesus pointed to himself. For he himself was the Word of God. John 1:1-2 testifies:
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God.
So when Jesus taught the crowd that they ought to believe in him, he was aiming at meeting their spiritual need, which had the eternal value. Jesus was working to bring them to the higher level. What seemed to be like something easy was proven to be extremely difficult. Feeding their belly with only five bread and two fish was much easier. Feeding their heart with the word of eternal life was extremely hard. To Jesus’ teaching to believe in him, the crowd responded:
30 So they said to him, “Then what sign do you do, that we may see and believe you? What work do you perform? 31 Our fathers ate the manna in the wilderness; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” (John 6:30-31)
They just saw and experienced firsthand the sign Jesus performed, yet they doubted Jesus as if he had not performed any sign. Jesus taught them to believe, but they responded with doubt. They then compared Jesus to Moses as if Moses was greater than him. When Jesus gave them bread to eat, they did not complain. When Jesus gave them the word of eternal life, they complained. Unbelievable, isn’t it? From there the teaching of Jesus was rejected more and more. The more Jesus taught them the truth, the more they argued against him fiercely. This is one of the most famous teachings of Jesus:
35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day. 40 For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:35-40)
But this most valuable teaching was met with grumbling:
41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?” (John 6:41-42)
Normally, in the teaching and learning session, especially when the teacher’s credibility is strong, the students would just accept what the teacher teaches. And here, Jesus’ credibility was strong. He had performed miracles. His reputation was great that more than five thousand people followed him to listen to him. Those who followed him saw and experienced the miracles themselves. And nobody could ever perform what he performed. Yet when he gave them the truth, they blasted him. Now, Jesus saw their unbelief, and he understood that they needed more teaching, so he continued to teach them, explaining to them further of the mystery:
43 Jesus answered them, “Do not grumble among yourselves. 44 No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. 45 It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me— 46 not that anyone has seen the Father except he who is from God; he has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:43-51)
It is obvious that Jesus no longer talk about eating in the physical sense. He was talking about believing in him, that’s the eating of the bread of life. But the people were so stubborn. They were fixated on the physical food. Their mind was occupied by the physical and worldly need. They could not see beyond that. So instead of humbling themselves and then accepting Jesus’ teaching, they disputed his teaching.
52 The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” (John 6:52)
Since their mind was fixated on the eating of physical food, Jesus had to explain further so that they would understand the truth.
53 So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. 55 For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. 56 Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. 57 As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. 58 This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” 59 Jesus said these things in the synagogue, as he taught at Capernaum. (John 6:53-59)
Jesus pointed their eyes toward him, so they would believe and be saved. But they couldn’t accept Jesus’ teaching. Even though their physical need had been met by Jesus. The “pastoral care” was given to them. They were hungry and Jesus gave them food. But Jesus had the most important shepherding work to be disposed, his teaching, so he too gave them the word of eternal life. It was very disappointing to see that the people continued in their unbelief. Instead of understanding, they began to hate Jesus. This brings us to the anti-climax of this event. John 6:60-66 observes:
60 When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” 61 But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? 62 Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? 63 It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. 64 But there are some of you who do not believe.” (For Jesus knew from the beginning who those were who did not believe, and who it was who would betray him.) 65 And he said, “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.” 66 After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.
The physical food and all the miracles attracted the crowd to follow Jesus. Even when it was difficult to search for him, they persisted. But the word of eternal life was the reason for them to leave him, the LOGOS himself. His teaching was not accepted.
Did Jesus not know that meeting the physical needs brought in the crowd? Why then did he bother teaching them? Did he not know that he would drive them away by teaching them the word of God? Was it not safer to just stick with the “pastoral care” that only provided the people with the things that fulfilled their physical need? If Jesus would just stay with meeting people’s physical needs, he would never have lost his followers. He would continue to gain followers. He would conquer the whole world and be the most powerful king the world has ever known. The crowd demanded Jesus to give them more bread, more miracles, but Jesus did not give what they demanded. With the current ministry strategy as taught in many seminaries and churches, what Jesus did was quite the opposite of smart or wisdom. What he did was contrary to the current trend. Was Jesus mistaken or this trend is? If you were there, would you advise Jesus that he made a mistake, that he should just perform more miracles, giving in to the demand of the people? If you would not do that to Jesus, why would you do it to the ministry that he gave you? Don’t you think that teaching is the most important shepherding work God’s servants ought to do? Why then sidelines it or even replaces it with the kind of pastoral care that is devoid of teaching?
We have seen that Jesus does not abandon teaching. He knew that these people would reject him. He knew that these people would be hostile to him because they could not accept his teaching. He knew that these people would hate him because he would not give in to their demand. Yet Jesus stayed with teaching, the very thing that made him an outcast. It was a very quick change of orientation. In verse 15 the people wanted to make him king, by force even, but by verse 66 they sneered at him and left him just like that. From king to outcast in 51 verses. If we read from verse 15 to verse 66, it only takes us about ten minutes. It was probably an event that took place in less than an hour. In that short period of time, the people quickly forgot the miracles he performed. They quickly forgot their desire to make him king. They quickly abandoned their high view of him. Now, Jesus was just a crazy man in their eyes. Teaching was risky. But why Jesus did not cancel his teaching? He proceeded to teach them, even though the end result was rejection. Let us observe John 6:67-71:
67 So Jesus said to the Twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” 68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, 69 and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” 70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the Twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” 71 He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the Twelve, was going to betray him.
Only the twelve remained with him. Thousands of people left him at once. But the twelve disciples stayed with him. And out of the twelve, one remained in unbelief. Jesus’ teaching penetrated into the eleven disciples’ hearts. They believed. For them, the teaching of Jesus was the words of eternal life. For the crowd, his teaching was garbage. The eleven witnessed how Jesus performed miracles, how he had compassion for the people, how he taught them words they never heard before in their life, how the crowd went up and down, and they witnessed thousands of people abandoned their master like he was worthless. Yet they stuck with him. They did not wish to go with the crowd. They made their choice to stay with the one whom God sent. They chose to “eat” his flesh and “drink” his blood. They believed. For the Father had chosen them in the first place. And he had brought them to Jesus.
This word of God is before us. We probably have heard this over and over again in our lifetime. But yet, some Christians choose to abandon his teaching and go with the worldly one. Instead of providing the word of God in pastoral care, they employ the word of man. Instead of consulting the word of eternal life, they consult philosophy, psychology, sociology, science, and so on. They quickly abandon the Scripture as something outdated, but quickly grab all the new discoveries posted by man. They think that the Scripture has nothing to teach them anymore, and so reorient their hearts toward the world’s new findings. All the new methodologies and information become their fixation. And the newest findings have “give in to the demand of the people” written all over them. So ministry is shaped within the framework of marketing. Ministry has become just another business venture. For these people, ministry operates like any other businesses; it is a matter of selling products. Pastoral care or shepherding work is no different. Its success is determined by how many people felt the benefits of the service. Thus evaluation of success is measured by surveying the opinion of the masses. Consequently, customer service model must be adopted. The crowd needs to be pleased, and thus their displeasure is a great feedback to improve the service or product being sold. Ministry, for them, is selling some kind of services. The success of such service must be evaluated based on the market’s opinion. Their feedback is to be used to rewrite the ministry plan or strategic planning or even vision and mission. Therefore, in the end, ministry becomes a service for the people. It no longer becomes a service to God. God is not consulted. His word is abandoned. His instruction is considered out of date, and thus irrelevant. Being rejected like Jesus is not desirable. It is to be avoided at all cost. Telling the truth runs the risk of being rejected, so that can’t be the kind of service offered. On the other hand, comforting people who got into problems has very low risk of rejection, and so it is highly desirable to be offered in ministry. Since the rate of acceptance is very high on providing comfort to people, logically it follows that this kind of ministry is the one to be focused on. Businesswise, why would anyone persist on providing service that would not be accepted? Why not just shift altogether to only providing service that is accepted? So, relying on the world, many Christians today ignore God’s command and walk the path of the world. Teaching is no longer included in the shepherding work. The result is devastating.
Current church ministry then prioritizes on comfort care. Pastors and candidates are trained to provide comfort care. They no longer are trained well in teaching. Many churches today would tolerate ministers who can’t preach or teach, but would not tolerate those who could not excellently provide comfort care. They would rather have pastors who could provide comfort care even though very poor in their preaching or teaching, than having pastors with excellent preaching or teaching but very poor in providing comfort care. Even they would rather have pastors who only provide comfort care and not teach them the truth. In that case, if Jesus were here today, he would not be the number one choice of these churches to be their pastor. Because Jesus would just teach them the truth. He would not hesitate to tell them that they have sinned. He would not delay to rebuke them. He would continue to open his mouth to give them the word of eternal life. But they would just refuse him. He was the best doctor the world could ever have, but yet he did more teachings than healing. He was the best miracle workers the world has ever seen, but yet he did more teachings than the work of miracles. His miracles’ direct impact stopped with those who experienced them. But his words’ direct impact continues on till the end of time. In is thus very disappointing that Christianity would rather choose comfort care over solid teaching of the word of God.
The centrality of teaching cannot be dismissed. The Scripture has spoken about it since the beginning of time. Moses gave specific instructions to Israel in Deuteronomy 6:4-9 saying:
4 “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Jesus has modeled teaching in all his ministry on earth. Jesus himself testified:
55 At that hour Jesus said to the crowds, “Have you come out as against a robber, with swords and clubs to capture me? Day after day I sat in the temple teaching, and you did not seize me. (Matthew 26:55)
His main work as the good shepherd is teaching. He did not say that he performed miracles every day. Or that he casted out demons day after day. He did not say that he healed every day. But he said that day after day he was teaching at the temple. Mark writes how Jesus opted to go to a different place to preach and teach over continuing his healing ministry.
35 And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. 36 And Simon and those who were with him searched for him, 37 and they found him and said to him, “Everyone is looking for you.” 38 And he said to them, “Let us go on to the next towns, that I may preach there also, for that is why I came out.” 39 And he went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out demons. (Mark 1:35-39)
Before he ascended to heaven, Jesus gave his disciples his great commission:
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
His apostles did the same thing Jesus did, teaching. Here is the account of the first church as written in Acts 2:42:
42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Even when Paul was in a very unfamiliar territory, he could not stop the urge to teach, for such is his sacred calling as a shepherd of God’s people:
1Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where there was a synagogue of the Jews. 2 And Paul went in, as was his custom, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, 3 explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, “This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.” (Acts 17:2)
Paul gave specific instructions to Titus in the qualification of elders, of which one of the most important duties was:
9 He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it. (Titus 1:9)
And his last instruction to Timothy as handwritten by Paul in his last preserved letter:
1I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
Teaching, therefore, is at the heart of the Christian ministry. Shepherding work cannot be devoid of teaching. Rather, shepherding work must find its centrality in teaching. The aim is spiritual maturity. And that is why Jesus gave the spiritual gifts to the church.
11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, 13 until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, 14 so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. (Ephesians 4:11-14)
Now, that we have established that teaching is the main duty of the shepherd, the next question is what teaching? Obviously God’s shepherds cannot just teach any kind of teaching. The teaching that must be taught can only be the teaching from God. As Jesus himself said:
16 So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. 18 The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. (John 7:16-18)
John 12:49-50 also writes:
49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”
Even the Holy Spirit would only teach what Jesus taught.
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. (John 14:26)
And in John 16:13-14:
13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
In his charge to Timothy to continue to preach and teach, Paul gave Timothy the basis of the teaching and preaching:
14 But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it 15 and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 1I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: 2 preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. 3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, 4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. 5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. (2 Timothy 3:14-4:5)
The Scripture is the basis. The word of God is what ought to be taught. Nothing else. Paul’s charge is in line with what he himself did, as he testified in 1 Corinthians 2:1-5:
1And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. 2 For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, 4 and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, 5 so that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.
Therefore, not the words of man that should become the basis of our teaching, but the word of God himself. His word is the word of eternal life. His word is the life giving word. The words of man will pass away. But the word of God will never pass away.
18 For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:18)
35 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)
Relying on the words of man is a huge mistake. Turning God’s ministry into a business is a huge sin. Marketing model must never be the basis for ministry. The demand of the people must not be allowed to direct ministry. The shepherd cannot give in to the demand of the sheep. The shepherd knows the need of the sheep because the Good Shepherd has revealed the truth. Shepherds must consult the word of God, and not the word of man. Shepherds must seek advice from God himself, not to the new discovery of the world knowledge, particularly when it comes to the church ministry. Teaching is the core work a shepherd must do. All other kinds of services are auxiliary. Do not turn it upside down. The bottom cannot be the top. The top cannot be the bottom. If you try it, the ministry will be ruined. That is how the devil confused Adam and Eve. That’s how the devil attempted to confuse Jesus, but he failed. For:
“ ‘Man shall not live by bread alone,
but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’ ” (Matthew 4:4)
Physical food or any other physical needs are not more important than the spirit of man. God focuses on saving the soul of man. The spirit lives on for eternity. The depraved body lives temporarily. And God desires for man to have eternal life. And this can only be done through believing in Jesus. Therefore it is important to teach man this truth. And this is the sacred duty of the shepherd. Let the word of Jesus Christ himself reminds us of this sacred duty:
18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
* background picture is taken from http://hiking2christ.org/2012/11/08/jesus-wants-to-heal-your-heart/