“Oh How He Loves His Sheep”

Posted on 26 Apr 2020, Pastor: Randy Sturzenbecher

John 10:11-16 English Standard Version (ESV)

1
1 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

Misericordias Domini  

Good Shepherd Sunday, April 26th, 2020   Live Stream only

In the Name of +Jesus+ amen.

We pray. Father we are wondering, wandering fearful sheep.  Give us peace and comfort in the promises of our risen from the dead, Good Shepherd Jesus Christ.  Bless now the preaching of your Word.  Amen.

If there is one iconic picture that captures the essence of Christianity it would be a shepherd with His sheep.   Vonda and I are Godparents and after the Baptism of our Goddaughter, her Mom and Dad gave us a picture of Jesus holding a lamb tightly to His chest.   You can see his nail scared hands, wrapped around this young lamb.  You can see the love and compassion for this lamb in Jesus’ eyes.  You can see the tender yet strong way He holds the lamb to His chest.  That is a very comforting image.  Jesus the Good shepherd and we His lambs.

Maybe that image is so comforting to us because that is what we really want.

We want to be content in Jesus’ arms, protected from all our enemies. 

We want to trust our Good Shepherd completely so we don’t worry and fear.  

We desperately want to feel loved like the artists paint the pictures of the Good Shepherd and His sheep because honestly some days we are pretty unlovable.    Isaiah had it right when he wrote, All we like sheep have gone astray;   we have turned—every one—to his own way; Isaiah 53:6

On our own, we are not the sheep a shepherd would want in His flock.  We are always looking for the hole in the fence to find greener pastures on the other side of our Shepherd’s care.  

With a few unsettling news reports we are running with the rest of the flock in fear and we don’t run to the protection and promises of our Good Shepherd. 

We worry that we will be in need even though our Good Shepherd has shown His faithfulness day in and day out. 

We resent His protection and we are constantly crawling through the fence He puts around us to protect us. 

We are defenseless sheep that somehow think that we can defeat Satan, who prowls around like a roaring lion looking to have lamb ribs and mint jelly for dinner.   

That’s who we are. Sheep that won’t’ stay in.  Sheep who are not content. Sheep that don’t realize what kind of trouble we are in until its too late.   Sheep that should be sent to the slaughterhouse. 

That’s who we are, sheep,……. that have a holy heavenly divine Good Shepherd.  Jesus says “I am the Good Shepherd”. 

 

Even before Jesus promised to be our Good Shepherd,…. God was making promises to Ewe (pun intended BTW) about how the Good Shepherd would love His flock.  The Prophet Ezekiel writes; Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out.  Even to the point of leaving the 99 and searching for the one that has wandered where the demons dwell. Jesus searches for His lost ones.

Jesus searchers for us,……that lost sheep in whatever darkness we wander.    Lost in Adultry, lost in pornography, lost in depression, lost in eating disorders, lost in anxiety, lost in a dead-end job,  lost in the daily routines of work and family.   Jesus keeps looking for us to bring us back to the protection and peace of His tender care. 

Jesus never quits looking for the lost.  And He is not afraid to go into our darkness to bring us out.  Because where Jesus is there is no darkness at all.  There is forgiveness and healing and hope.  St. Paul reminds us “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. Romans 8:1 

When we see the images of the Good Shepherd and His Sheep.  They are somewhat misleading, at least on the part of the Shepherd.   We see Jesus, clean and perfect holding the lamb that is fat and happy.  The grass is green and tall, the water is still and plentiful. 

When in reality, at least on this side of the resurrection of all flesh, it should probably look something like this,…… the Good Shepherd is scarred and bloody from fixing the fence of His law, because we continually push against it and break it.

He is scarred from pulling us out of the jaws of all the evil that would destroy us or end our lives. He has our blood on him from all the times He has covered our wounds and patched us up from the latest scrape we got into as we ran off for greener pastures.      

He is covered in dirt and other not so pleasant things.  He has muck boots on because  He walks in the muck of a sinful broken world that is full of foul dirty disgusting things. 

The part of the picture this always right is His look at the lamb.  It’s a look of complete love for the lambs.  Despite what the Good Shepherd looks like,  despite what kind of shape the lamb is in,….. Jesus always looks at us,…. the lambs of His flock,…. with love, mercy, and compassion. 

If there is a time we need this promise, it’s now!   Ezekiel continues with the hope we have in our Good Shepherd.    “ 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” 

That sounds a lot like rescuing us from the isolation of the coronavirus, but it’s much bigger than that.   Jesus will rescue us from the isolation we bring upon ourselves.  We run from God. We hide in our sin. We isolate ourselves from others because we have said things terrible things to other people, and it’s easier to hide than to admit our sin and our need for the Good Shepherd’s forgiveness.  There in our isolation and fear come nail-scarred hands to gather us the lambs of His flock into our Good Shepherd’s mercy and forgiveness.  

Psalm 23 paints this wonderful picture of how our Good Shepherd will feed us.    Jesus promises to feed us but not like the world around us that feeds us pork rinds and cotton candy along with empty promises and no hope.  No Jesus feeds us with His Word and Sacraments.

Imagine a wedding banquet and you are a guest at the table.   The best of wine is poured, the food on the table is made by master chefs. There is no cost.  There is no scarcity.   There is no social distancing between tables.  There is nothing to worry about. Being feed by the Good Shepherd is indeed the greenest of pastures the purest of still and quiet waters,…….. all for you the sheep of His fold.  

For all of us who pray for someone who is not a Christian or a family member who is really struggling with faith, listen, and take comfort in this promise from Jesus.  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. 

Jesus is not like an earthly shepherd who would give up on the sick or sells those who cause trouble.  He continually seeks the lost.  For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, (Hebrews 4:12)

God’s word is the only thing that has the power to breaks into the darkness of the unbelievers’ world and gives faith and life and forgiveness.  We have this Promise of our risen Good Shepherd He continues to fight to bring life and light into the darkness of every single person who does not yet believe!  Jesus hears your prayers prayed for your family and friends that don’t believe. He has a place for them,…. and is working on them. 

For those who are wondering and wandering in the wasteland of Spirituality,   ….. Jesus promises “I will bring back the strayed.”. 

For those who are beaten with the rod of God’s Law so much they are in complete despair, Jesus’ resurrection and His complete and total forgiveness brings healing for the injured and peace to the broken. 

For all of us who feel our knees buckling under the worry and fear of coved 19 and homeschooling and work furloughs, listen to your Good Shepherd speaking to you, “I will strengthen the weak”. 

You know as we listen to these promises of Jesus, and the hope and joy they bring, they would be easy to dismiss,……. if Jesus had not risen from the grave.  Then we could look at Him and say well He promised and failed.  

But that is not the case.  [Jesus said:] “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. And that is what He did.  Jesus laid down His life on the cross for every unbeliever, for every fence crawling law-breaking sheep.  And Just as He promised,… He rose on the third day.  Triumphant over devil and doubt, fear and foolishness all paid for by the blood of the Good Shepherd who became the lamb and laid down His life for you. 

Dear wounded wondering wandering lamb, Christ is risen!   He is risen indeed.  Your good Shepherd has you tightly in the arms of His Mercy.  His nail-scarred hands holding you tightly to his chest and His promises.   His loving and compassionate eyes are on you.  You are His lamb.  He is your Good Shepherd. 

 

In the Name of +Jesus+ Amen.