Misericordias Domini (Jn 10:11–15)

Photo by Paul Zoetemeijer on Unsplash

Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO

I have other sheep that are not from this fold. I must lead them also, and they will listen to My voice. There will be one flock, one Shepherd.

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

INI + AMEN.

“One flock. One Shepherd.” What makes us one flock, one tribe, one group, one body? Is it something we do, or is it something done to us? Is this “one flock, one Shepherd” just a nice idea? Is it just some nice ideal? Is “one flock, one Shepherd” something for us to strive after, something for us to works towards? Is that what Jesus has in mind? Is Jesus here laying the blueprints and marching orders for us to follow in our making “one flock, one Shepherd” just like He told us?

((3. Do history or family make us one?))

So, what makes us one? What makes us gathered here one flock? Is it history and family? Are we a flock because we’ve always been one? That [[118 years || 150 years]] ago our forefathers decided it was good for us to be here? So, now we’re one flock in order to keep that legacy going? Are we one because [[Bethlehem || Immanuel]] is written above the church door and on the sign? Is that what unifies us against all others? Is it that Missouri Synod is also tagged to our congregation? That we’re all of German descent?

What makes us one flock? Is it family? That’s closely related to history, especially here. Are we one because we all share one of a half-dozen or so last names? Or have married into those names? The only truly outsider last names are mine and a few teachers at Good Shepherd. In fact, those half-dozen or so last names are so intertwined, that you could almost set up 3 family reunions in one day, and all the same people would be at all 3! That’s not a bad thing. That’s your family, your history. Good gift! But is this what unifies you?

((2. Do tradition or preferences make us one?))

“One flock. One Shepherd.” So, what makes us one? Is it our traditions? What we’ve always done. We do what we do, and that’s what defines us as a congregation, a flock, a body. And if we want greater unity, greater chance of joining others to us, we just need to change what we do. That sort of thinking is a symptom of making what we do the thing that unifies us.

What unites us? Are we just a group of like-minded individuals? Is it our preferences that unify us? We do what we like, and that’s why we’re here, that’s why we’ll always be here, and if people don’t like it, well, tough? Now, that’s not to say you can’t make choices about those sorts of things, weighing the good and the bad, but is that what unifies us?

((Transition.))

What is it that defines us as one flock, one group, one body? Is it what we do? That’s actually our focus, so much of the time. We want to be one flock at least in theory, and so we fix our eyes on ourselves, on the flock, on our history, family, traditions, preferences, and think about what we do to unify.

Is “one flock, one Shepherd” something for us to strive after, something for us to work towards? Is that what Jesus has in mind? Is Jesus here laying the blueprints and marching orders for us to follow in order to make “one flock, one Shepherd” just like He told us?

So, “One flock. One Shepherd.” What does it? Is it programs or preferences or past or present or possibilities for the future? What is it? What unites us? What makes us one?

((1. Jesus makes us one.))

Well, what makes a flock one? It’s not that they’re all sheep. It’s not that they all talk the same or act the same or look the same or anything that the sheep themselves do. It’s the same way here with us. We’re not one because of what we do or what we think or what we plan. That would be a wild herd. One governed by the strongest, the most influential, the ones with the most votes. That’s not unity.

The flock is one because it has one shepherd. So also us, we’re not one because we’ve decided to be, but because that’s what Jesus does for us. He’s our Good Shepherd. He unifies. In His own body He does! He unites us, our sins, our own personal plans of unifying, and He bears all that in His own body on the tree, and He lays down His life. He dies for the sheep, for you, not because you deserve it but because you don’t.

He unifies in a very real way. He promises, “They will listen to My voice,” The sheep will listen to their Shepherd because that’s what Jesus’ sheep do. When God promises, it happens. So how does He unify? What’s the heart? What’s the center? What’s the life-blood of unity with the Shepherd, of unity with other sheep?

It’s not only His voice. The flock that eats together, stays together. Jesus makes us one body, one flock of sheep under one Shepherd by uniting us in His body given for us to eat and to drink. There’s our unity. Jesus is—He flesh and blood is. His body makes us one body. The Shepherd makes us one flock.

Everything should be focused there. There we all become brothers and sisters. There we become one bread, one cup, one body. There we become one flock. All unity flows into and out of Jesus’ own body and blood. “He made peace by the blood of His cross,” and “He broke down the dividing walls between believers in His body.” How can you hold a grudge with someone who’s drunk the same blood of Christ as you?

We should want everyone to be so united with us and with Christ! Now, “divisions are necessary to show who’s genuine,” as Paul says. But that’s not marching orders to set up more barriers, restrictions, or qualifications to unity. Just like Jesus’ words of “One flock, one Shepherd” aren’t marching orders for us. We should want to remove such barriers for people, using the Good Shepherd’s voice, instead of making them bigger or taller or harder. Why? Because He’s the One who unifies.

((Conclusion.))

“One flock. One Shepherd.” What makes us one flock, one tribe, one group, one body? Is it something we do, or is it something done to us?

It’s not what we do. Sadly, we often focus there, but it really is Jesus who makes us One. He’s the One Shepherd. He unifies the flock in His own body and blood. He unites it to Himself, and He unites each sheep to all the others. We are one flock, one congregation, one body, we are here as one because we all take from the same table.

We are one flock, one body. It’s done for us. Jesus does it. JESUS MAKES US ONE FLOCK, ONE BODY IN AND THROUGH HIS BODY. It’s His promise! So, we rejoice in His body and blood. We’re unified by it. It was crucified and raised for us. It unites us. He unites us through it. The flock that eats together, stays together, especially the flock that eats the same Thing. That’s why we’re here. Any talk of unity begins and ends with Jesus, with His body and blood. For there’s our unity, our being bodied and blooded together in the body and blood of Jesus. JESUS DOES MAKES US ONE FLOCK, ONE BODY IN AND THROUGH HIS BODY.

Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!

INI + AMEN.

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