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Good Shepherd Jesus!

May 7, 2017

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Fourth Sunday of Easter                            Trinity Lutheran Church

7 May 2017                                                    Murdock, NE

 

+ Jesu Juva +

 

John 10:1-10

 

Good Shepherd Jesus! He shepherds you His sheep. He’s anointed your head with the oil of His Spirit in the quiet waters of holy baptism. He prepares the table of His Supper in the presence of your fiercest enemies: sin, death and Satan – and feeds you with the bread and wine of His Good Friday body and blood. He restores your soul by forgiving all your sin. He guides you in the paths of righteousness through His holy Word – the rod of His law and the staff of His gospel. He leads you through the dark valley of the shadow of death to eternal life. Good Shepherd Jesus went ahead of you – through suffering, pain and death and then on to His Easterly resurrection to lead you through death to eternal life in Him and the resurrection of your body on the Last Day – the fullness of life!

 

Good Shepherd Jesus is also the gate of the sheep pen. He is the door of the sheep. He and His Good Friday death on the cross are the only way to the lush green pasture of heaven. “No one comes to the Father except through Me,” He categorically promises. His death is the only death that conquers death and leads to eternal life. There is no other way into the sheep pen – heaven – than through the crucified and risen Good Shepherd Jesus.

 

The gate to Jesus’ sheep pen is narrow. It is as narrow as the cross on which Jesus hung Good Friday-ly. The gate’s wood is stained red. Reddened by the divine blood of Jesus that purifies from all sin. To be brought through that gate of Jesus’ death and resurrection is to be cleansed by His blood.

 

Shepherd and sheep. That is the biblical way of speaking of the church gathered around Jesus. Following Jesus. Hearing Jesus. Being given to by Jesus. Jesus is all about churching. And you have been churched. Just like the early Jerusalem congregation that we heard about in Acts 2. Gathered around Good Shepherd Jesus they “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship [that’s going to church], to the breaking of bread [that the Lord’s Supper] and the prayers.”

 

Jesus has snatched you from the corrupt and wicked world and rescued from eternal death and damnation through the gate of His Good Friday death and Easter resurrection. In the church Good Shepherd Jesus gathers you around Himself to care for you. To feed you. To protect you. Your wounds are anointed with the healing balm of His forgiveness. He guards you against false shepherds and wolves. He speaks to you. You are “sheep who hear the voice of their Shepherd.” Again, this is what the church is all about. He puts His sheep in the sheep pen. They listen to their Good Shepherd.

 

And what does He say? Well, He tells you to repent of your sin and to believe in Him for salvation. To trust His promises. That He is reliable and trustworthy. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved,” (Mk. 16:16). The absolution you heard earlier is the living voice of Christ. So too is the preaching of the gospel. And even more when He says in His Supper: “given and shed FOR YOU for the forgiveness of sins.”  The wolf and the thief would tell you not to trust these words of Good Shepherd Jesus. They’d say that Jesus is a liar and cannot be trusted. They contend that they have better words than Jesus. They would cut you off from Good Shepherd Jesus and His gospel-ly, merciful voice. They would separate you from the voice of Jesus in the church to lying and destructive voices.

 

Sadly, this happens all too often. Sheep cut themselves off from their Good Shepherd and try to live on their own apart from Jesus. They falsely believe that living apart from the Good Shepherd – is safe. They have no desire to hear the Good Shepherd’s voice. So they listen to their own voice. Their own words are divine words. They listen to their voice as if it’s God’s voice. That’s when they are isolated, exposed, undefended, vulnerable and they are readily attacked and devoured. Consumed by thieves and wolves that take the place of Good Shepherd Jesus.

 

So I warn you. When you cut yourself off from Christ and the sound of His voice, you will easily fall prey to the siren song of other voices that will lead you to hellacious destruction. Idols or false saviors give you no Sabbath Day rest. They are relentless. Tyrannical. Your work, when idolized, will devour you. The endless pursuit of power and wealth will consume you. You will be wolfed down by your incessant desire to play. You will be polished off by your mindless pursuit of pleasure, materialism, sports, greed, intoxicants and immorality. You will be thieved by the ecstasies and excesses of false worship that set before you a different Savior than Good Friday on the cross and Easter-ly risen from the dead Jesus.

 

The very things that promise you life in abundance — life beyond your wildest imaginations turn out to be carnivorous wolves and capital crooks that rob you blind, molest you, gobble you up, scarf you down and leave only your bones. I will say it one more time just in case you weren’t listening, dozing off, or blowing me off. If you cut yourself off from the voice of Good Shepherd Jesus and choose to live outside of His churching, you will die. You will die all alone. Hellaciously. Apart from Good Friday Good Shepherd Savior Jesus.

 

Now, for those who have ears to hear listen even more. I’m also here to tell you that Jesus doesn’t want that for you. Good Shepherd Jesus came so that you have life. And to have it abundantly! Abundant life is what Good Friday and Easter are all about. Abundant life is what every Sunday divine service in the sheep pen is all about. It’s about receiving Christ’s life as your own in the gospel — the very life He laid down on the cross FOR YOU.

 

Now, don’t misunderstand what Jesus promises when He speaks of abundant life. He’s not guaranteeing that you’ll live a long life or that you’ll necessarily be healthy, wealthy, or happy all that time. Abundant life DOES NOT CONSIST in the abundance of possessions and good feelings. Never forget that God’s Word teaches that when you’re a baptized believer in Jesus you are sometimes called to suffer and sometimes the suffering is immense. So, abundant life is eternal life! Life overflowing with life! So much life it can never be exhausted or used up no matter what happens to you in this earthly life. Jesus came TO GIVE YOU ETERNAL LIFE! HIS LIFE! A LIFE THAT CONQUERED DEATH, THE GRAVE AND HELL.

 

Jesus went to the cross on the Friday we all call “good” to destroy the death that threatens your life. He bore all your sin in His own perfect Body on the tree. He died your death and endured your damnation. He rose from the dead so that you would daily die to sin and live believingly in Him as sheep of His pasture.

 

Jesus is your healing Shepherd. “By His wounds you have been healed.” His divine blood is the healing balm by which you are healed from sin, healed from death, from the devil’s power, from a guilty conscience and slavery to yourselves.

 

The greatest freedom you can have in this life is to be pushed through the narrow gate of Jesus’ death and resurrection – penned up in the Good Shepherd’s sheep pen – living under His care – hearing His voice in the Word, baptism, absolution and the Lord’s Supper and to under His watchful and caring gaze. Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

 

Now here’s the clincher for today. It’s from the Epistle Peter wrote: “He himself bore our sins in His body on the tree that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls,” (1 Peter 2:24-25). Indeed.

 

In the Name of Good Shepherd Jesus.

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