The Shepherd and His Sheep
May 1, 2022 anno Domini
What do you say we keep this sermon short? It might be hard there’s a lot going on today. This Sunday has another one of those weird Latin names – Misericordias Domini. Then we’ve got a lot of shepherd and sheep talk going on in God’s Word and finally we’ve got these three confirmands who cleaned up pretty good in their white gowns.
Lillian, Jennah, and Carson, you’re wearing white because Christ has died for your sins and has given you His death and resurrection in your baptism, and now, in God’s eyes, you are righteous, without sin, pure, and holy. You look as good to Him as you look to us, sitting in the front row of church. But for the sake of the sermon I want you to consider another reason you’re wearing white. You are one of the sheep that God talks about in His Word.
When I call you sheep that is not a compliment. Sheep are not the brightest animals in the barnyard. Sheep are known to follow other sheep without really watching where they are going. Sheep also like to wander and eat their way away from safety. Finally, sheep are defenseless animals and when they are afraid, they usually are so paralyzed with fear they cannot move.
Let’s see if any of that applies to tweens and teenagers – do you follow other people without really watching where you are going? Do your desires lead you away from safety? When you realize you are in deep trouble are you paralyzed with fear? Don’t think I’m picking only on you because what I just described is true of all of us. Perhaps we are most sheep like when it comes to this. (hold smartphone) We’ve got our heads down, chasing this and that. We’re following what everyone else is doing and not really seeing where we are going. On this you can chase the woman of your dreams, but she’s a nightmare. You can escape reality in a game, but then your life won’t be real. You can have 568 friends or 1000 followers, but still be all alone.
Sheep need a shepherd. A good shepherd will lead the sheep to good and safe pasture with His Word. He will seek out a sheep when she is lost and carry her back home. A good shepherd will stand between the wolf or the thief and put His life on the line. When a sheep wanders into a raging river or is stuck in a thicket and soon to lamb chops, a good shepherd will climb down into that mess to save the sheep.
Hopefully you know where this sermon is going. If you don’t, I’m either a really bad preacher or you need another year of catechesis before you’re confirmed. Sheep need a Shepherd, which means you need Jesus, and you need a pastor.
The Good Shepherd Jesus laid down His life for you. That’s because you were in trouble. Your parents are sinners and passed on their sin to you. If you don’t think you’re a sinner ask your parents or your brother or your sister. Like a sheep stuck in a thicket you are helpless against sin, caught in it. God’s Word says that the wages of sin is death. That means the wolf sees the tasty lamb trapped and is going to swallow it whole. Finally, God’s Word says that sinners deserve hell – that’s like an even bigger wolf that swallows the wolf that swallowed you. Death would be bad enough but after death the Devil would torment you for all eternity.
So, hear these words and believe them. The Good Shepherd laid down His life for you. The Son of God became a man – flesh and blood like you. He was born to the Virgin Mary, wore a diaper, ate, slept, cried, grew. He became a man to save man. He climbed down into my mess and your mess. Jesus never sinned, but He did have sin – in His baptism He was immersed in your sin and mine. He took it all – teenager sins, son and daughter sins, pastor sins. When He walked among His sheep saved them – from their sins, from sickness, from demons, and from death. But most people didn’t like Jesus – because sinners would rather go their own way than the One Way which God has given. Jesus was arrested, convicted, and killed.
Here is the great mystery of God’s Word. The death of the Shepherd saved the sheep. Jesus carried our sins on the cross. There, even though it looked like sin, death, and the Devil were victorious, Jesus won. By suffering hell, He won heaven for you. By dying He won life for you. By letting the Devil get a hold of Judas and Pontius Pilate and the Jews, Jesus broke the devil’s hold on you. Jesus gladly and willingly put Himself under your sin and stood before your enemies. He let death swallow Him but death couldn’t stomach Him because He was the perfect sacrifice. God’s blood and God’s life paid the full price for your sins. You’re forgiven. Death had to spit Jesus out because your sin is forgiven – where there is no sin there is no death.
The Good Shepherd is the reason you need a pastor – a shepherd with a small “s, a sheepdog who will bark and chase you and try to get you back to the flock. You need such a shepherd because you’re a sheep – you like to follow others, you’re on your phones and you wander into dangerous territory, you, like all of us run all over the place trying to satisfy your appetite for life, pleasure, satisfaction.
God has given his pastors one task – lead the sheep to the good pasture of God’s Word. Preach the death of Christ for sinners and His resurrection to life again. Jesus says there is One Shepherd that gives life and One flock – those who believe in Him. If your pastor is not preaching Jesus’ death and resurrection for sinners, he is a wolf or a thief. If he doesn’t bark at you for your sins, you need a new dog. If he doesn’t chase you down in the hopes of returning you to the flock he’s lazy. Pray for your pastor that he is faithful to Jesus and zealous for His sheep. Pray for me.
We’re almost done so hang in there. We’ve got one last thing to talk about today. The name of this third Sunday after Easter – Misericordias Domini. That literally translates The Miserable Heart of the Lord. What it means is the Lord’s heart is set on you. When the sheep wander the Lord is miserable because He loves you. This is how He loves you Jennah, Lillian, and Carson – He sent His Son, the Good Shepherd to lay down His life for you. Then He sent out his pastors to preach, his sheepdogs to hound you back into the flock that is gathered in the name of Jesus. Amen.