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Easter II – John 10:11-16

by pastorjuhl ~ April 15th, 2010

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

Twice Jesus calls Himself the Good Shepherd in the six verses of today’s Holy Gospel. After He calls Himself the Good Shepherd, Jesus gives two examples of what makes Him the Good Shepherd.

First, the good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. Jesus contrasts what the Good Shepherd does to a hireling who flees the sheep when the wolf comes to prey on the sheep. The hireling is neither the shepherd nor does he own the sheep. He watches them in place of another.

The distinction between the Good Shepherd and the hireling takes on a new dimension when you learn whom Jesus is speaking these words. Jesus healed a blind man in John chapter nine. Some of the Pharisees who were with Jesus heard Him saying to the formerly blind man for judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind. Those Pharisees ask Jesus a simple question: Are we blind also? Jesus replies if you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains.

Jesus then begins the so-called “Good Shepherd chapter”, explaining what makes Him the Good Shepherd in contrast with those who had spiritual authority over the Jews. You could draw comparisons from then to now. Though pastors are called to serve as shepherds of the Good Shepherd’s flock, some pastors do not deserve the title of pastor, the Latin word for “shepherd”. You’ve seen the television reports of certain pastors who have a television ministry making millions of dollars a year. They drive the best cars, live in the best houses, own the finest clothes, and live the high life. Some of these pastors believe they have to live this way to show how their faith in God brings them earthly wealth.

It’s a shame that many people are taken in by these pastors. Not all pastors with a television ministry live this way, just as not every Pharisee was set against Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, when the fall from grace comes, as it does often, television news has a field day covering these hirelings. Not all televangelists are crooks, but it seems as if most are. If the pleas for money don’t take you in, the false doctrine they preach just might take you in. Please don’t doubt many of these men and women are pious people with a message to proclaim. What you should question is what comes out of their mouths when they preach. What you should watch is what happens when the wolf strikes the sheep.

Perhaps you’ve seen the wolf attack the sheep in other congregation, or even in this congregation. Perhaps you have been the wolf, attacking the shepherd or the sheep through gossip or through rude behavior. Pastors are sinful human beings, just like you. Pastors make mistakes. They put their foot in their mouth. Pastors crave the absolving Word of Christ, just like you. However, they are charged to preach the whole counsel of God in season and out of season to those who like it or don’t like it. A shepherd of the Good Shepherd’s flock who follows the pattern of Jesus Christ’s earthly ministry will suffer. He will not be liked by every person in a congregation. Saint Paul tells Saint Timothy; all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. As go the sheep, so goes the shepherd.

Jesus also says in today’s Gospel, I know my sheep, and am known by My own. The Good Shepherd knows every one of His sheep. As you’ll sing in a little while, He loves you every day the same. He even calls you by your name. His Name is on you in Holy Baptism. Your name is in His book of life. No matter how many times you try to run away from the Good Shepherd, Jesus will seek you out. You cannot run from the all-knowing God Who made heaven and earth.

The prophet Ezekiel writes, I will seek what was lost and bring back what was driven away, bind up the broken and strengthen what was sick; but I will destroy the fat and the strong, and feed them in judgment. The shepherds of the Good Shepherd’s flock who grow fat and strong on the back of Jesus’ little lambs will be destroyed. The sheep, and even shepherds, who were driven away, broken, and made weak will be brought back, bound up, and made strong by the Good Shepherd.

That’s what the Good Shepherd does every week in the Divine Service. He brings you back here to His house. Jesus binds up your wounds and stripes in His wounds and stripes. Jesus forgives your sins, covering them in His atoning blood. Jesus strengthens your faith in preaching and the Supper, preparing you for battle against the old evil foe.

Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, fought a much more difficult battle than you and I will ever face. Saint Peter writes, when Jesus was reviled, [He] did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously; who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed. For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

Jesus Christ returned you to the fold when you went astray. Jesus Christ returns both Jew and Gentile when they go astray from the fold. The Gentiles are those Jesus says are not of this fold. Both Jew and Gentile will safely graze in green pastures. Both Jew and Gentile hear the voice of the Good Shepherd, especially when He will call forth the living and the dead on Judgment Day. It is then, and only then, when there will be one flock and one shepherd.

The Church of here and now is a militant Church. It suffers under the burden of the gods who want equal time with the One True God. When the Good Shepherd returns to draw His flock together, there will finally be one flock and one shepherd. This doesn’t mean that Christians should strive for true unity in the Word of God in the Church Militant. What Jesus means is that there is no such thing as a perfect church on earth living in absolute peace and harmony. That day is yet to come, but not in this world as you know it. While you wait for the Good Shepherd’s return, live in His mercy that brings perpetual gladness and eternal joys. Jesus knows you. He can’t wait to call your name when He comes again.

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit

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