Preaching to the saints of the Lutheran Church at Christ-Elkhart and Faith-Hugoton in Kansas since February 8, 2015. All sermons prior to that date were preached either at Trinity Lutheran Church-Layton or First Lutheran Church-Tooele, Utah.
The One who was the Perfect Sacrificial Lamb is now the Good Shepherd—leading us so we can follow where He has gone and come back out on the other side.
And it is a good thing, too. For it is not only that rich young man that had too many possessions to want to follow Jesus. We are all simply too rich to follow where He has gone. By our own thinking, by our own feeling we just have too much to lose.
To follow Jesus means to suffer, die, and be buried. Who wants that?
So Jesus--having gone there, done that and, more than having the souvenir t-shirt but even wearing and bearing the scars in His hands, feet, and side--has risen to be our Good Shepherd leading us by His voice where we fear to go.
To hear this sermon preached at Christ Lutheran-Elkhart, KS and Faith Lutheran-Hugoton, KS for The Fourth Sunday of Easter, "My Own Know Me—for There Is No Other," click on the audio link provided above. The audio begins with the First Scripture reading, Acts 4:1–12 at 9:45 of the MP3 file.
A servant of the Word and His folk,
Graphic: German Cathedral painting, details unknown.
For those of you who prefer to read or read along while listening, the preaching manuscript follows below.
Nota bene: Sermons are meant to be heard, especially today. Many bullet points in the manuscript are explained and filled out during the preaching, so you will need to listen to the audio file to get the full message.
He is risen! He is risen indeed!
Grace, mercy and peace to you from God the Father and Christ Jesus, our Lord.
Dear Baptized Children of God,
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. John 10:14-15 [ESV]
And so He has.
This is not only the definition of what it takes to be a good shepherd, it is the definition of what it means to be good, period.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. John 15:12-13
This being the case, as Jesus told the rich young ruler, who asked:
“Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?” 17 And he said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments.” 18 He said to him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not murder, You shall not commit adultery, You shall not steal, You shall not bear false witness, 19 Honor your father and mother, and, You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” 20 The young man said to him, “All these I have kept. What do I still lack?” 21 Jesus said to him, “If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 22 When the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he had great possessions. Matthew 19:16-22
Yes, there is only One that is good—whether that be shepherd, neighbor, friend, or even sheep—only One and no other has given His life into death to pay the wages of your sin.
The One Who is the Good Shepherd, first became the best of sheep—the Lamb of sacrifice. He went where no man had gone before. He went where no man could or can go and return. This is why He can and does say, “My Own Know Me—for There Is No Other.” Who else has done this for you or anyone. Who could?
Celebrating His return on Easter morning, the One who was the Perfect Sacrificial Lamb is now the Good Shepherd—leading us so we can follow where He has gone and come back out on the other side.
And it is a good thing, too. For it is not only that rich young man that had too many possessions to want to follow. We are all simply too rich to follow where Jesus has gone. By our own thinking, by our own feeling we just have too much to lose.
To follow Jesus means to suffer, die, and be buried. Who wants that?
So Jesus, having gone there, done that , and more than having the souvenir t-shirt--wearing and bearing the scars in His hands, feet, and side—He has risen to be our Good Shepherd leading us by His voice where we fear to go. His own Know Him, for there is no other.
The Law says you’re going there whether you like it or not. The Law also has the power to make you go there whether you like it or not.
The Gospel, the voice of the Good Shepherd calling you says, “Fear not!” I’ve already been there. Indeed, I am still there calling you to my side. What you fear is not what is in store for you.
Where you fear judgment and punishment, there is the green pasture of heaven and the still water of my Word. This is the right hand of my Father, not the left. You are a sheep not a goat.
Indeed the sheep hear and follow the pleasant voice of the Good Shepherd. But the goats scramble away too busy hearing their own bleating as they follow their nose to feast on whatever garbage lies rotting and stinking so sweetly before them. Thinking God is only going to punish them for their wandering, or keep them away from all the good stuff out there to enjoy, the goats keep wandering and climbing and pursuing their next meal—their bloated bellies ever expanding, yet never getting their fill. Others simply running and hiding for the sheer fun and excitement, or out of fear of getting caught.
The sheep see all this going on around them. They are tempted to join the fun, chase after the goodies, and hide from the Shepherd. They see and feel the suffering through which their Shepherd has gone. They balk.
But the Shepherd keeps calling. And, at times, He also reaches out with His rod and staff forcing us to go where we would never choose to go on our own—through the curses of cancer, heart disease, chronic pain, depression, divorce, unemployment, law suits, loss of friends and family—sometimes even as the result of following His voice and echoing His call.
21For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. 22He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. 23When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. 24He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. 25For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:21–25
To be Baptized means to be a sheep under the loving care of The Good Shepherd, as you hear the voice of Jesus and follow where the Lamb of God has gone—from cradle to grave, through suffering and death, to the right hand of God the Father in heaven. It means to know Him, for there is no other. Acts 4:12 “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
That is the Gospel for this Good Shepherd Sunday, and every Sunday really. For every Lord’s Day, whenever and wherever the Word of Christ and Him crucified is preached and His Sacraments poured out, God the Father’s sheep are being gathered by His Good Shepherd and ours for their salvation.
We are welcomed into His fold, into the house of the Lord—and even into the very kingdom of heaven—with the blessing of our Baptism that is placed upon us to be lived in our lives every day so that our neighbors and loved ones may also know Him and no other for the forgiveness of sins and salvation unto life now and forever, in the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Insofar as this sermon is a true proclamation of the Holy Gospel of Jesus Christ, it belongs to Him and His Church. Therefore its use is free to all who deem it worthy and beneficial.
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