Fourth Sunday of Easter
Passage: John 10:11–10:18
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: John 10:11-18
Date: April 22nd, 2018; Easter 4; Series B
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
- Today we focus on the image of Jesus as our Good Shepherd.
- How comforting it is to know that our Lord guides, feeds, protects, and provides for us – his flock of sheep.
- Reflecting the 23rd Psalm, works of art often depict this image with a shepherd leading his flock of sheep beside still waters in the midst of a beautiful and serene and vibrant green valley.
- It’s a beautiful and comforting picture!
- Although, that image doesn’t quite provide the full picture of our lives and experiences today, does it?
- Is your life always a simple and peaceful stroll beside a quiet brook running through a pristine green landscape?
- Recent events in the news are enough to shatter that peaceful scene.
- A tragic bus accident with devastating wreckage. Lives lost. Lives changed forever for so many.
- Missiles in Syria. Nuclear threats from North Korea. Tensions with China and Russia.
- And beyond these things happening externally in our lives are the troubles we face internally.
- Stress over managing debts. Concern over having enough for the future.
- Concern and worry over our loved ones.
- Hurt feelings and anger from troubled relationships with family and friends.
- Injuries and sickness.
- Death of loved ones.
- Life is not an easy stroll in the park.
- The troubling events happening in the world and in our lives can make it seem as though this life is only a journey through the valley of the shadow of death.
- But this is exactly where the image of the Good Shepherd becomes most meaningful.
- Yes, we journey through some treacherous landscapes, we slip and fall down, there are enemies and dangers all around - but we are not alone.
- We have the love, and guidance, and protection of the Good Shepherd!
- The Good Shepherd, Christ Jesus, literally laid down his life for us.
- He promises to bring us out to green pasture, to lead us to fresh pools of water.
- He sets us upright when we’ve fallen down.
- He leads us through dark valleys where predators abound, where we wouldn’t stand a chance on our own.
- We are not alone.
- Where the Good Shepherd leads, we, the sheep, follow in trust.
- The Good Shepherd stands in sharp contrast to the hired hand who runs off at the first sign of danger.
- For the hired hand, it’s just a job and a paycheque. He cares nothing for the sheep.
- But for the Good Shepherd, the sheep are not only his livelihood - they are his life.
- They are his own. We are his own.
- The prophet Isaiah says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way” (Isaiah 53:6).
- We all desperately need a Good Shepherd to guide us and to protect us.
- The Word became flesh and dwelt among us - the way a shepherd dwells among his flock.
- He didn’t sit back saying, “They sure look lost; I hope they find me.”
- No, the Good Shepherd joined the flock.
- He laid down his life.
- He gathered all to himself when he was lifted on the cross.
- A sinful, damned humanity, is now in the embrace of a loving shepherd God who is willing to lay down his life, to suffer and die, to save us.
- The Lord is your Good Shepherd.
- He pastures you in the green pastures of his Word; he leads you to the quiet waters of Baptism; he restores your soul by nourishing you with his true body and blood, lifting you from death to life.
- He guides you in the well-worn ruts of righteousness, the way of repentance, daily dying and rising, for his name’s sake.
- Though you daily walk through the dark valley of the shadow of death where threats to your life are all around you, where death and the grave loom large - you need fear no evil.
- The Good Shepherd, Jesus, has gone ahead of you through suffering and death - to resurrection and glory.
- The grave couldn’t hold him - and it can’t hold you either.
- Protected by the Good Shepherd, nothing can harm you.
- “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1).
- And the Good Shepherd’s love that lays down its life has an effect on the sheep too.
- We sheep take on the character of our shepherd.
- He is so much a part of us and our lives - that we the sheep reflect that same love toward each other.
- The love that flows from the merciful heart of the Lord overflows in us to the people we come into contact with every day.
- We reflect the love of the Good Shepherd to each other and to the world around us.
- The Good Shepherd works through us to bring lost sheep into his fold.
- He works through us that his flock may be loved and cared for.
- You are the Good Shepherd’s sheep.
- You are precious to him.
- There is not a day that goodness and mercy do not flow from the merciful heart of the Lord to you.
- He will not leave you like a hired hand.
- You are under his care and protection. You have his comfort and peace.
- Today we navigate through some rough and dangerous terrain.
- We don’t know what the trails are like ahead for us or for our loved ones.
- And we don’t need to. We don’t need to know what’s around the next curve because we follow safely behind our Good Shepherd.
- We hear and follow his voice trusting his promise that he will lead us safely to eternal life where we shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
In death’s dark vale
I fear no ill
With thee, dear Lord, beside me,
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me (LSB #709). Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.