LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – Seminary graduates are called to be ministers, but fundamental to that calling is the task of shepherding the flock of God, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary President Albert Mohler said Friday morning (Dec. 10) at the school’s fall commencement.
SBTS graduated 233 students at its 228th commencement, with 159 graduates walking across the stage to accept their degrees.
Examining Micah 5:1-5, Mohler said the pattern of leadership throughout Scripture from King David to Jesus includes shepherding, which sits at the heart of what the graduates are called to do on mission fields, classrooms, counseling sessions and local churches.
“What is happening in this room today? What is the cause of our celebration?” Mohler asked graduates. “We are seeing minister-shepherds sent out into the world. … When David became a king, was he no longer a shepherd? Hardly. Israel was to have a shepherd-king, a king who would shepherd his flock.
“Then we fast-forward to the New Testament and the promise of Christ. There we are reminded that Christ Himself is none other than the Good Shepherd as found in John 10:11. He is the king-shepherd; He shepherds His flock; He loses not one of His sheep. He lovingly shepherds His people – the flock of God.”
Singing Christmas hymns and celebrating the incarnation of Christ as the church does each December is directly tied to the calling of each graduate, Mohler said; they are to proclaim the incarnate Christ – the Good News brought about by the Good Shepherd’s rescue mission to redeem sinners.
“Those who are being sent out today are preaching-teaching shepherds preaching the Gospel of the Good Shepherd, the eternal shepherd-king,” he said. “… There are moments like this when we are gathered in a December season and as the church is celebrating Advent and Christmas is coming, we suddenly realize: that (celebrating the incarnation) is about this.
“This would mean something merely academic if these were mere graduates to be sent out into some professional role. We would have something formal and ceremonial, but we wouldn’t have a worship service. We wouldn’t have this joy. What we are witnessing is the commissioning of shepherds and the great joy of a succession of those who have taught and who have fed the flock of God.
“Following in the example of Christ, our commission to these graduates is this: stand and feed the flock in the strength of the Lord.”
Southern conferred a master of theology degree posthumously to Achungpou Panmei, a student from India who died earlier this year from a sudden illness. Panmei’s wife attended graduation to accept her late husband’s diploma.