September 10, 2016
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
INI + AMEN.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He’s your Good Shepherd. He’s Loretta’s Good Shephered, and that’s not, He was Loretta’s Good Shepherd, but He is Loretta’s Good Shepherd, even now. He cares for His sheep. He loves them. Each of them is His own. They are His, and He is theirs. They’re special to Him, His treasured possession. They’re unique. He knows all of His sheep, and He knows all of the unique, special, and sometimes quirky ways that they are His sheep. He gifts them with their abilities: like being able to design the house you grew up in or still live in now. He’s always there for His sheep. He doesn’t leave them or forsake them. They’re His sheep and He the Good Shepherd. Nothing can change that, not even death. Whether alive or dead, whether in this life or the one to come, Jesus’ sheep remain His sheep. And
NOT EVEN DEATH TAKES A SHEEP FROM JESUS’ HAND.
((I. His works testify to this.))
How do know that’s true, and not only know it, but believe it? How’s it true that NOT EVEN DEATH TAKES A SHEEP FROM JESUS’ HAND? Well, just look at what Jesus has done: what He’s done for His sheep, FOR YOU, for Loretta. For it’s not just a comment on Jesus’ strength and power, not just a comment on His steadfastness and reliability; no, it’s more than that. Jesus’ hand, the hand no one can snatch from (not sin, not devil, not even death itself)—that hand is a nail-scarred hand. You see, Jesus did all sorts of works in His Father’s name that, as He said, “bear witness about Me.” But the work of works, the all-sufficient work, His greatest work done in the Father’s name was His death and resurrection. He laid down His life for the sheep. He took His life back up for the sheep. He rescued them from death. He did it for His sheep. He did it FOR YOU. You’re His sheep, as Loretta is. He didn’t just do works back then for His sheep. He does them now. He did them for Loretta. He made her His sheep in Holy Baptism. He fed her with His own body and blood. Through His Holy Word, He led her and strengthened her trust in Him as her dear Shepherd. He does this for you too. These works testify that nothing, NOT EVEN DEATH TAKES A SHEEP FROM JESUS’ HAND.
((II. The sheep follow where Jesus goes.))
When you’re a sheep, you go wherever Jesus goes. Sheep follow their shepherd, hearing and following His voice. Loretta heard the voice of her Good Shepherd, we do too! We hear His living voice through His Word, His Bible, His Scriptures. We call it Holy because it’s His voice, His Word that makes it holy. Loretta delighted in that Word, studied it, made sure it was important to you all. She had lots of questions. We’d talk about them from time to time, but now they’re answered. Questions have been swallowed up in sight, seeing her Good Shepherd face to face. For you see, sheep who hear their Good Shepherd, follow where He goes. He went through death and resurrection. They do too! Yes, even the most faithful sheep of the Shepherd die. He doesn’t forsake them there. He uses their death to bring them to eternal life, but not only that. As surely as Jesus, the Good Shepherd, was dead and is now alive again, so also He will raise the bodies of His sheep from the dead. The grave won’t hold them, just like it couldn’t hold Jesus. What’s more than that: after raising them from death, Jesus will give His sheep eternal life—body and soul—with Him, His Father, and the Holy Spirit. That’s His promise to His sheep, given them in Baptism, repeated through His Word, and the pledge and guarantee in the Supper of His body and blood.
There’s nothing that can snatch a sheep from Jesus’s hand or the Father’s hand. Not even death itself. Nathan, Matt, and Naomi, you have lost your mom to death; Wilmer, you’ve lost your wife; but Jesus hasn’t lost her. She’s with Him. He can’t lose her. She’s his and He’s hers. The promise of the the Good Shepherd rings out even in death. Death is now the gateway to an eternal life with Jesus, the Good Shepherd. The promise He made to Loretta, He makes to you today; what He’s done for Loretta He does and will do for you.
He brings me to the portal
That leads to bliss untold,
Whereon this rhyme immortal
Is found in script of gold:
“Who there My cross has shared
Finds here a crown prepared;
Who there with Me has died
Shall here be glorified.” (LSB 467:7)
INI + AMEN.