Sermon – April 30, 2017

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.

John 10:11-16 11 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.

Faithful shepherds should do two things: Feed the lambs and resist the wolves. Then the sheep may flee from strange voices and separate the precious and true shepherds from the worthless and false shepherds.

Many are the wolves in our world today. Satan stirs up his followers who surround us with every lie and falsehood they can invent. It is the work of the devil to confuse and mislead us by multitudes of false preachers and teachers who distort God’s word, lie about what the Scriptures say, and lead people into confusion, doubt, and unbelief.

But, we have a Good Shepherd, a wonderful and precious Savior, who will not stand for that. He will not tolerate the false shepherds and teachings of the devil. He leads his lambs to green pastures and still waters. He seeks the lost and binds the wounded. He heals the broken hearted and comforts those who mourn.

He is the Good Shepherd. He knows his own sheep and his sheep know him, and they listen to his voice and flee the voice of any other. In a world of such confusion, such uncertainty, such doubt and fear, what a wonderful thing it is to have a Shepherd who leads you on the path of truth. What a good thing it is to be a Christian. For while the world pines in darkness and fear; while the world craves a strong foundation and an unbending truth, the Christian has The Truth, The Light and The Way. The Christian has the strong foundation which is Jesus Christ (I Cor 3:11). The church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. (Eph 2:20). While darkness covers the eyes and shrouds the minds of the world; while death surrounds us all, the Christian has the light that opens our eyes and the life that is eternal. And we have a shepherd which leads us in the truth. What a precious and marvelous thing it is to be a Christian.

We have a Good Shepherd. He feeds his lambs with his Word and Sacraments. His word is the green pasture, the true nourishment that not only nourishes the body, but nourishes the soul. Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. His word is true nourishment. Even if all the world were filled with food and bread, we would still hunger. We would only be fed for a while and then we pass away from life. All the riches and treasures of the world are not sufficient to have true life. All the fruits of the earth are still not enough, for we will hunger again and thirst again. We would still die if we possessed all the treasures of the world, with all its science and knowledge and riches. There is still something lacking, and that is the bread that Jesus alone provides. That is the fertile pasture that the Shepherd alone leads us to, which is the Word of the Lord.

And those who are called to be his lambs hear that word, feed on the word, are nourished on that word, and that word gives them life forever. They recognize his voice and hear Him. They rejoice to hear the voice of their Shepherd, and they long to hear him. They follow him and only him do they follow. And they follow him to the altar of Holy Communion every chance they get for it is there that he feeds them with the true green pastures and the still, refreshing drink in His body and blood.

Yes, that is his very body and blood which he laid down for the sheep to resist the wolves. For he will not tolerate the wolves tearing up the sheep and ripping them apart to satisfy their appetites. The wolves come and scatter the sheep, but the Shepherd goes and seeks them and binds up their wounds and carries them back to the fold. The Shepherd does not cower before the prince of wolves, Satan himself, but he gives his own life in exchange for the life of His lambs. He places our sins on his shoulders and carries them away to the cross. There he lays down his very life and gives it over to the slaughterers. Our sins to pay for, our iniquity to vanquish, our God to reconcile, the curse of death to turn away from us. Such is the love of the Shepherd for his lambs. He carries away our sin and clothes us in His own perfect righteousness.

All fear He has dispelled as now we will stand righteous and holy before the judgment seat of God on the last day. Now our sins will not be held against us for he has carried them away.

But many are the minions of the prince of wolves in our world today. Satan stirs up the wolves and calls to them and rouses them to look for prey among the lambs of the Good Shepherd. They are everywhere, on Christian TV, Christian radio, in Christian books, in Christian movies and in Christian churches. They are stirring up every doctrinal error, every spiritual lie, every false and misleading teaching that is intended to snatch us away from our Shepherd.

Satan is the high priest of darkness and many are the sheep who follow these lies. Many are the sheep who are not of the Good Shepherd, but who follow these false shepherds and are led astray. These false shepherds do not protect the sheep, but flee when they see the wolf coming. They flee because they do not love the sheep. And the wolf snatches the sheep and scatters them.

But our Lord is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. He knows his own sheep and they know him. His sheep do not listen to the voice of the false shepherds, but know only the voice of their true Shepherd. And they follow Him where he leads to the eternal green pastures and still waters.

And the Good Shepherd still has more sheep that He must bring also, and they will listen to his voice and there will be one flock and one shepherd. These are the sheep yet to come into the fold. Perhaps your neighbor across the street who has not yet heard the voice of the Good Shepherd. Perhaps it is your friend, a family member, a son or daughter or a grandson or granddaughter. And yet there are still more sheep. Multitudes of sheep who have not yet been born, but will come in future generations until the day of the Lord. Generation after generation until the end of the world. All these sheep the Shepherd will bring into the fold. And they will listen to his voice, they will follow Him and there will be one flock and one Shepherd.

Note, there is no command given to us here. This is not a text that commands us to do evangelism. This text simply states that Jesus will bring more sheep from future generations into the flock. It is the work of Jesus. For His work is not done. He has earned our salvation, but he continues to work in the world. His work is not finished until He returns on the Last Day. His plan of salvation continues. Until the day he returns, people are being called, illuminated and gathered by Jesus who sends his Holy Spirit to work by the proclamation of the Gospel. He sends us to make disciples by baptizing and teaching the Word, but He is the one who does the work of bringing His sheep into the flock. We do nothing other than proclaim the message of the Gospel by baptizing and administering the Sacrament of the Altar.

But, there is no command here. This is a promise. A promise that He will fulfill. A promise that all his chosen and elect lambs will be with him in the flock. And this is a wonderful honor for us to be part of his plan of salvation for all the world. We are an integral part of this salvation, for He did not entrust this message of salvation to the angels. He did not entrust the Word and Sacraments to dreams and visions, but to us, His bride, the church.

In this gospel today, we see the love of Jesus for us. For he lays down his life for His sheep. No one took it away from Him. No one poured out His life-giving blood to spill it on the ground. He, himself, laid down His life for us. He poured out His own blood on the cross to wash us in His righteousness. We see the love of the Shepherd who gives His life for His lambs, who feeds us and fends off the wolves.

And by His example, we too give our lives for others. We fend off the wolves from others by preaching the Word of the Shepherd. We lay down our lives for those in need. For we have a Good Shepherd who feeds his lambs and lays his life down for us. Help us good Lord. Amen.