Good Shepherd Sunday – John 10:11-16; Psalm 23
Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we are His sheep.
As His sheep, we have been gathered together as one flock.
The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep.
Jesus suffers and dies on the cross for His sheep,
for the one sheep, for all the sheep in His flock, and for those sheep not yet in His flock.
Jesus rises from the dead for His sheep,
that they might share in His life and victory over sin, death and the power of the wolf.
Everything the Good Shepherd does is for His sheep.
His every concern, His every care is for His sheep.
His every desire is that we His sheep would have forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body and eternal life with Him in heaven.
The Good Shepherd wants us to be where He is, always and forever.
He wants us to be here in His church, where He has promised to be, while we are on earth.
He wants us to be in heaven with Him, where He sits at the right hand of the Father in heaven.
That is why the Good Shepherd continues to call us to come and lie down, here, in green pastures.
That is why the Good Shepherd gathers us together in His flock,
in His church.
Here, in His church, in His flock, we know our Good Shepherd
and He knows us.
We know His name and He knows our name.
Here, in these green pastures, we have safety and protection and comfort and healing and strength.
Here, we the sheep of the Good Shepherd, find true rest and true peace.
Here we are with our Good Shepherd, He feeds us and takes care of us, we are not in want.
The Shepherd’s goodness and mercy are ours now and forever.
The wolf, the devil himself, wants nothing more than to separate the sheep from the Shepherd.
The wolf does not like the relationship the Shepherd has with His sheep.
The wolf wants to separate and scatter and steal and devour the sheep.
The wolf wants the sheep to be lost and afraid and sick and lonely and dead.
Fellow sheep of the Good Shepherd’s flock, that is where we find ourselves today.
The Good Shepherd gathered us into His flock and we keep trying to get out of the sheep pen.
We think there has to be something better outside the pen:
greener pastures, stiller waters, better feed, a more generous shepherd
The wolf gets us to think that we don’t even need a shepherd, that we can do it all on our own.
The wolf doesn’t want us to listen to the Good Shepherd, when He speaks.
The wolf doesn’t want us to call upon the Shepherd,
when we are in need or want.
The Good Shepherd gives us other sheep, but we don’t love them
as we love ourselves.
The Good Shepherd gives us a husband or wife,
but we aren’t there for each other
in sickness and health, in richness and poverty, in good times and bad.
God willing, the Good Shepherd gives us children, little lambs, but we don’t bring them up in the fear of the Lord, we don’t teach them to pray, we don’t teach them to fear, love and trust in God above all things.
And we wonder why they go astray, why they leave the sheep fold, why they do not follow the Good Shepherd wherever He leads them.
And that is where this tool, that I am holding, comes in.
Jesus, the Good Shepherd, says, “My rod and My staff comforts you.”
This tool is the Good Shepherd’s rod and staff. The Shepherd and His rod and staff go together.
When you, the sheep, look upon this tool, this rod and staff, you are comforted.
When you see the Good Shepherd, holding His rod and staff, you are not afraid, you do not fear the wolf who desires to attack and scatter and destroy.
You know that the Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for the sheep, with His death on the cross,and has raised up His life with His resurrection from the grave, the Good Shepherd has defeated the devil, his claws have been clipped, his fangs removed.
The wolf is all howl and no bite.
The Good Shepherd’s tool has a purpose, the rod is a weapon,
used to beat off the wolf.
The rod is a weapon, the long, narrow, bottom part of the tool, used by the Good Shepherd to admonish and rebuke and correct His sheep, that His sheep would realize what they have gone or are going astray.
It is a tool of love, not of hate. It is a tool of mercy, that we are not punished as we should be.
The rod is used for separating and dividing, removing those who do not want to believe, those who do not want to repent, those who do not want to listen to the Good Shepherd.
The rod is the Ten Commandments, which has been given to us for our good.
The rod is the Word of God, preached and taught in all of its truth and purity, which the sheep must listen to.
The rod is a good tool of the Good Shepherd,
we are glad that He has it and uses it.
The staff is a tool of the Good Shepherd, used to remind the sheep and give the sheep His love.
The staff is the crooked, bent, upper part of the tool.
The staff is the tool of grace, giving love to the sheep when they don’t deserve it.
The staff is the water of Holy Baptism, marking us as those who belong to the Good Shepherd.
The staff is the word of forgiveness, spoken by the Good Shepherd Himself, our sins are no longer held against us. It is a tool that constantly seeks and restores those who were lost.
The staff is the body and blood the Good Shepherd gives to His sheep to eat and to drink, that they would be strengthened to fight the fight of faith and endure in the attacks of the wolf.
The staff is a good tool of the Good Shepherd, we are glad that He has it and uses it.
Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, through this vale of tears, we fear no evil, for Jesus, our Good Shepherd, is with us, never leaving us, never forgetting about us. Amen.