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Stray Sheep

Isaiah 53:6

Rev. John F. Wurst

The Lutheran Church of Christ the King  
Duluth, Minnesota

Play MP3 of this sermon

Wed, Mar 6, 2013 

"For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified." (1 Cor. 2:2)

Isaiah 53:6

Lent 4


In the Name of the Father and + of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way;

And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

Sheep are dumb creatures. They can't fend for themselves. They need a shepherd to take them out to eat in the pasture and to the river for water to drink. They can't even find their way back to the sheep pen. They depend on the shepherd for guidance and safety.

As it goes, the dumb sheep begin to wander. It may not be on purpose; maybe just out curiosity. Just as the shepherd turns around to count the heads of the flock, there you have it, some have wandered off in search of greener pastures and a better life.

They go where everyone gets along.

They go where the philosophy is do as you please.

They go where they can shine as individuals.

They go where there is no exclusion.

They go where there is ultimate freedom to do what you what.

What they don't know is they are walking into danger, blind, without protection, without the strength of the flock, and without the shepherd. They go alone into the jaws of the awaiting wolf, the devil himself.

The prophet Isaiah calls you sheep. Isaiah says you have gone astray. Astray from what or whom? Well, God of course. You run away every chance you get. You turn away from the statues of God and turn to your own ways, your own desires, your own gods. After all, you run off because you don't want anyone telling you what to do. You're autonomous, self-governing, and Postmodern.

Consider again the words of the text: "All of us like sheep had gone astray; each of us turned to his own way. But Yahweh caused to fall on Him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6). Does that sound accurate? Look around at society today. Look at Duluth. Look at our own lives. You must confess that you are, at times and in various respects, like ancient Israel in the time of the judges: "Each person would do what was right in his own eyes" (Judges 21:25).

Judged by God's Law, each of you is a stray sheep. You may find yourselves wandering around in life. Instead of following Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, you may turn away. You may find yourselves stranded on the edge of a precipice, or you may even fall prey to the hungry wolf.

Yet, God, in His infinite mercy, sent His only-begotten Son into the world. He sent Him to save the lost. He sent Jesus to save you. Jesus saved you and all men by standing in your place and your iniquity was laid on Him. Your sins and the sins of the world laid upon the shoulders of Jesus.

Jesus never wandered from the will of His Father. He stayed the course of truth all the way to death, even death on the cross. He never sinned. He never gave into the temptations of the devil. He never "chickened out" or quit under the weight of His Father's wrath and judgment against your sins. Jesus suffered all things for you. He died for you. He was buried in the tomb and on the third day, He rose again from the dead.

Jesus' victory over death is yours through Holy Baptism. His righteousness and life are yours through faith alone. Your ears now hear the voice of the Good Shepherd because you now belong to Him. Your life is no longer lost in the darkness but is grafted into the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Now when you wander off, you have nothing to fear because the Good Shepherd promises He will leave the 99 to come look for you. When Jesus finds you lost in your sins, He hears your bleeps for mercy. He hears your confession. He immediately pronounces His forgiveness upon you and sets you free.

In an earlier chapter, Isaiah prophesied, "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool" (Isaiah 1:18). That is the kind of sheep you are now in God's eyes. You are no longer blemished, stained sheep—the kind God in the Old Testament declared unacceptable to be brought to the temple. Rather, our wool has been washed clean so it gleams, white as snow. God deems us to be like the Lamb of God Himself—Jesus Christ, the sinless, unblemished, perfect Lamb of God. The Blood of the Lamb of God covers your soul. You are spotless in Christ. You are holy in Christ. You are righteous in Christ.

In the Name of the Father and + of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

The peace of God which surpasses all understanding guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Amen.


(C) Rev. John F. Wurst

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