We are sheep. We need a shepherd. When Jesus talks about His flock, He doesn't pick an animal that is self-sufficient and can provide for itself. He calls us sheep. Sheep can't make it on their own. They wander off. They fall into holes. They get stuck in brambles. They stand there while the wolf attacks and eats them. They need a shepherd to protect them and lead them to pasture. That's Jesus. The Good Shepherd. And what makes Him the GOOD Shepherd? He lays down His life for the sheep. He dies for you. He puts Himself between you and the wolf. He falls into the hole so you don't. He gets tangled in thorns so you don't. Whatever bad thing could happen to a sheep, Jesus lets happen to Him in order to save you. Trial. False witnesses. Condemnation. Scourging. Cruxifixion. Or, as we heard a while back: betrayed into the hands of sinners, mocked, beaten, spit upon and killed. And rise the third day. For the sheep. For you.
And the sheep know the Good Shepherd. They know Him because He lays down His life for them. Don't look for any other shepherd than the Jesus who lays down His life on Calvary for you. The Jesus who is crucified for you. The Jesus who rises from the dead for you. Beware of the voice of hirelings, false preachers, who want to deliver something to you other than Jesus who lays down His life for you. Beware of preaching and teaching that isn't Christ and His gifts but rather something in you. Beware of flattering preaching that says you can do it, that you can save yourself or find God. Beware of that preaching that calls you, under your own power, to live a better life in one way or another. In short, beware of any preaching and teaching that is not Jesus and Him crucified and raised for you. Beware of any preaching or teaching that does not, for the sake of Jesus, proclaim that your sins are forgiven and that you have eternal life.
The Good Shepherd, of course, sends His pastors (and "pastor" just means "shepherd.") I suppose it's a little awkward to talk about it right this minute. But maybe this is when we really need to hear it: Jesus knows His flock. He knows you. He knows that you need to hear the Gospel. He has laid down His life for you and He will make sure that you hear that Gospel preached. The Good Shepherd leads you to the still waters: Baptism in which you drink deeply of the Spirit and forgiveness. There is the green pasture of His Word, in which you may be fed with food that is for eternal life. There is the rod and staff to comfort you by absolving you of your sins. There is the overflowing cup of the Shepherd's blood to drink in the presence of your enemies--the devil, the world, and your Old Adam have to sit helplessly by while the shepherd protects you and gives you life. The Good Shepherd is all about laying down His life for you, taking it up again, and making sure you are taken care of by His saving gifts. You are sheep. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. That's all you need to know. Because in His hands, as a part of His flock, you are safe and have life forever. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.
Sermon Topics: John