Text: John 10:11-18
Facebook live: You are known by the Good Shepherd
11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life 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.
Love and Death is kind of a strange phrase.
We might think life and death but love and death seem odd to me and may be to you as well? But with Jesus that is exactly what we get from our Lord. His love for you and his death for you gives life to we born in sin and born dead to God.
In our readings for today we see another love and death. Jesus says in an analogy of a shepherd to his sheep that he is the good shepherd and that the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
In John’s epistle also we hear in contrast that 16 By this [the death of Jesus] we know love, that he laid down his life for us.
So, the good shepherd is Jesus and we, and all who believe are his sheep and because of his love for us … he dies for us. And so again we have this odd phrase of … Love and Death.
Now we also know death. From the time of Adam and Eve and the fall into sin, death has been in the world. We see death all around us.
So our death, apart from Christ’s atoning death, is a death without hope. But in Jesus and by faith in his sinless life, vicarious death and glorious resurrection, his death … is a death that gives life.
Jesus also says that apart from him - those that might shepherd the sheep in ways opposed to Christ and his teaching - are liars leading the sheep away from him and who in the time of need flee, leaving the sheep to care for themselves so that the wolves scatters them.
But Jesus – the Good shepherd- says:
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.
So who are the other sheep and how does Christ bring them into this one flock?
Well, outside of the children of Israel – those believing Jews - it is you and me … and it is also those who will believe as the gospel goes forth throughout the world from now on until Christ returns.
Last Sunday I thought about the Good Shepherd and our little sheepfold here at Peace.
With the profound loss of so many longtime members it is easy to see the sheepfold dwindling and wonder what we should do? I’ve thought about this quite a bit over the last number of years.
Mission statements, vision statements, tasks, lay leadership programs and the like are all good things for we as a church to consider. Even Pastor Merrell once said to me, “If they made a movie of my ministry, it would be called Honey, I shrunk the church!”
But as I thought about it, it is the Lord who tends the flock, who builds the church and who at times grows and shrinks the church for his good pleasure as he brings people in and moves people away or calls them to their rest in him.
I thought about Olaf and the Smithson’s, the Regentin’s and Charlie Fox, Joan Kaczander, Susan Work and the Temples and Kristiana Sfirlea, who will be welcomed as our newest member next weekend and many others who continue to come to worship and visit.
I think about the online views through Facebook and who the Lord might reach in that way and I concluded that I had nothing to do with any of these people coming to Peace. But I also understand that God uses us all as we remain steadfast in our callings where God has placed us.
So, what did we do?
Well, we are here.
We open the church doors and have services on Saturday and Sunday.
We turn on the Ipad to welcome those on Facebook live.
We play the organ and sing hymns.
We greet our members and visitors with the joy of Christ in Christian love.
The word is read, the word is sung and the word is preached.
Lord’s Supper is distributed and received as the Lord has commanded.
Forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to our ears so that by the Holy Spirit our faith is strengthened!
And we do it this weekend, and next weekend and every weekend for our benefit until the Lord call us to himself or returns in glory!
As an under shepherd of Christ flock here at Peace I am given to the care of souls as a representative of the Good Shepherd. The good Shepherd is Jesus and he is our model and our hope. In him we find comfort and peace and through his work he brings that same hope and peace to others in need.
4 I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, 2 with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3 eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call— 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism, 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph. 4:1-6
The hope that is Christ is our hope and privilege to bring to those in need in this place - God’s house - and to all who are given to the Lord’s care here members, visitors, shut in or at hospital, gathered here … in person and online … to hear this blessed comfort and good news that is Christ Jesus and his forgiveness!
Like Jesus upon hearing of the death of Lazarus - we also weep at the death of dear loved ones and members as well. As Pastor Merrell once told me “we only care for them while they are with us. Once they go to be with the Lord our work here is finished.”
16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.
The Lord connects us to Peace.
He connects us to this physical congregation and at times through my visits brings the church to the people or through technology into your homes.
But more importantly he connects us to his eternal peace and an eternal life with Christ forever where one day will be reunited with glorified bodies in a heaven where sin, death, and the devil has been overcome.
This is the Lord’s promise!
The work of the Good Shepherd is clear and proclaimed to us by Jesus in his great commission:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matt. 28:19-20
This living Jesus is with us now and always.
For we who remain in the flesh and for all who have died in Christ - like our dear loved ones - he is the blessed hope on whom we wait. This hope though, is not a vein hope but a joyful hope of anticipation - one where the tears of loss are replaced by the tears of joy and a life eternal that we are all promised by Christ himself.
God uses each one of us in our vocations as husbands, sons, mothers, daughters, friends, and workers to be salt and light in a dark world. He gives each to his place and calls to life, that which is dead in us by his love for us and his death on our behalf.
As Martin Luther said regarding God’s work throughout the world:
He is the Lord over all places. Wherever that word is heard, where Baptism, the sacrament of the Altar, and absolution are administered, there you must determine and conclude with certainty; “This is surly God’s house; here heaven has been opened.” But just as the word is not bound to any place, so the church is not bound to any place.
… But where God speaks, where Jacob’s ladder is, where the angels ascend and descend, there the church is, there the kingdom of heaven is opened.
LW American Edition Vol. 5 pg. 244
In our sanctuary and in hospital and home visits, or in the conversations of family and friends where Christ’s Love and Death is proclaimed the Good Shepherd speaks comfort and peace to those lost is trespass and sin!
His forgiveness makes everlasting life with him a reality for us and by power of the Holy Spirit we know his love for us and his death on our behalf to accomplish just that.
In the name of the Father and of the Son + and of the Holy Spirit.