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Misericordias, April 30, 2017 - St. John 10:11-16

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Posted: Sunday, April 30th, 2017 by Pastor Westgate

We’ve been talking a lot about sheep these past 2 months. The focus is always Jesus. He is The Lamb of God that bore the sins of the world. But on Preschool – or Little Lambs – Sunday, we got a preview of what we hear today. The Lamb of God is The Good Shepherd of His sheep.

How can a lamb be a shepherd? This doesn’t work on the ranch. Sheep go astray when they’re left to themselves. They’re stupid creatures who keep following the rest down the cliff until none are left. They need the shepherd to lead and guide them. Left to themselves, wolves have a field day catching and eating them. They need a shepherd to defend them and keep them safe.

“So, Jesus, why do you call me a sheep? I’m very much a human being. I don’t need anybody to defend me, anybody to care for me! I got 2 hands and 2 feet to take care of that, perhaps a gun in my holster and a grocery store full of food down the road. I can hunt and fish and drive from point A to point B with my GPS and get around Pittsburgh with the best of them. I’m no sheep! I might not be a shepherd, but I don’t need a shepherd!”

You don’t get to decide for yourself if you’re a sheep. God’s true Word declares that you are. It does so with words that aren’t very complimentary. Isaiah says: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way.” Therefore you heard St. Peter say: “Ye were as sheep going astray.”

Scripture is describing us the way we are. It all started when Adam and Eve encountered the devil. They should have thrown him out of the garden. Instead they did something stupid: they listened and did what he said, even though they knew it was wrong. That’s no different than sheep following sheep over a cliff. Sin still acts that way. We do something we know we shouldn’t because we see somebody else do it. We want to fit in with the almighty crowd, and the almighty crowd is opposed to Almighty God. He sees in secret, but they see in the open, so the crowd wins. Yes, we are sheep, and that is not a good thing.

Yes, we are sheep, and that is a good thing. I just contradicted myself, right? How is it good to be a sheep if it’s bad to be a sheep? That makes no sense to anybody. It’s because of The Lamb led to the slaughter, The Sheep Who before His shearers was silent. No sheep is silent; it doesn’t like being sheared, even though it’s good for it. Yet this Lamb was silent. He was oppressed and afflicted yet did not open His mouth. He bore our griefs and carried our sorrows. He was wounded for our transgressions and crushed for our iniquities. The chastisement that brought us peace was upon Him. With His stripes we are healed. For He bore our sins in His own Body on the tree.

So if you’re a sheep, and if that’s a good thing, that must mean you belong to that Lamb of God, pure and holy, Who on The Cross did suffer! He has turned you off the wide path of falling off the cliff unto another path, the narrow path that leads through the valley of the shadow of death to the table with the overflowing chalice of everlasting life. The Lamb of God is your Good Shepherd.

He is good for 2 reasons: He gave His life for the sheep and He gathers His sheep together into His flock. Isaiah vividly foretells Jesus’ Crucifixion in his 53rd chapter. He tells us Christ Crucified is not at all pretty to look at; He had no beauty that we should desire or look at Him. He tells us He was despised and rejected by men, even His own nation, so He was a man of sorrows acquainted with grief. He was stricken, smitten, and afflicted by God. He was a lamb led to the slaughter taken away by oppression and judgment. That sounds like His trial because the Jews oppressed both Him and Pilate so much that Pilate was forced to make what he realized was a very bad judgment.

But that isn’t the end of the story. They made His grave with the wicked by crucifying Him between 2 criminals, but He was buried in a rich man’s tomb, something that never happened to somebody that was crucified. He was cut off from the land of the living; He was stricken for the transgressions of His people. He had done no violence and was never deceitful. It all happened because it was His Father’s will to crush Him and put Him to grief.

But Isaiah doesn’t stop there. He says that once He made His guilt offering He would see His offspring and His days would be prolonged, and the will of Yahveh prospers in His hand. He saw past His soul’s anguish and is satisfied. By His knowledge He makes many to be accounted righteous, for He has borne our iniquities. That’s resurrection talk! That’s Gospel-preaching! For He has sprinkled many nations. What had not been told our pagan ancient ancestors we see and what they didn’t hear about we understand. They worshiped idols in Europe or wherever they lived, but we have heard of and worship Israel’s God. That nation crucified their King, but we are saved through that very action, for He won salvation for us, for all mankind, with His Cross. He was punished for all our sins and paid the debt we owe for them. He laid down His life for the sheep, and we live forever.

Now He goes out to bring sheep into His fold, to give us knowledge of things we had never seen or heard, to declare us righteous by faith in Him. If no one told you, you would never know about it! This is The Lord’s will. He laid your transgressions and iniquity on Jesus’ back, and He wants you in His fold unto life everlasting. God’s Lamb bore your sins in His own Body on The Tree that you might die to sin and live to righteousness. Follow Him!

How can you do that? After all, we all like sheep have gone astray! How can you get into His fold when you don’t know the way or where it is? After all, a sheep doesn’t see very well! Isaiah tells us. He said The Righteous One, God’s Servant, shall make many to be accounted righteous. He said The Lord’s will shall prosper in His hand. That means He’s doing God’s will, He’s making it happen. Since God’s will is that you be saved, Jesus is making it happen, and He makes it happen from start to finish! He gives no opportunity for you to get involved. If He did, you’d just mess it up. That’s why we fall away from Him when we stray too long from His Word.

How did you get to Him? He has sprinkled you! He has applied His Blood to us. He has baptized us. He snatched us out of the realm of evil and brought us on His shoulders to His fold. His Word did the work. His Word still does the work. It still tells us what He did for us. It still leads us to trust Him. It still leads us to salvation. It still leads us to confess sin and desire to do better, indeed it leads us to do what pleases Him. It leads us to eat His Body and drink His Blood at this Altar. It defends us from the attacks of the devil by telling us what Jesus did for us, what is truth, and how He wants us to live. Why do we need Him to do this for us? Scripture says we can do no good thing apart from Him, and apart from Him we can only find what is evil.

Christ Crucified and Risen is our Good Shepherd. He leads us to everlasting life and defends us from the devil. So He gives His faithful ones perpetual gladness, and those whom He has delivered from the danger of everlasting death He makes partakers of eternal joys.

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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