Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. The Shepherd promised in Psalm 23. But what kind of Good Shepherd is He? On a day like today, is He even good? He is. But how is He good? In what way is He good? “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.” That’s how He’s the Good Shepherd. He can’t be any other Good Shepherd than in that way, as He promises elsewhere, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
He’s not only the Shepherd but the Way through the Valley of the shadow of death. He gives eternal life because He is Life. That’s what Good Shepherd Jesus does for His sheep. He can’t not! That’s His promise backed by His own death and resurrection. A promise and guarantee delivered in Holy Baptism, declared in Holy Absolution, and intimately given in Holy Communion of His body and blood.
What kind of Good Shepherd is Jesus? The kind that gives life because He is life. The kind that leads through death because He is the Way. He’s not lying. And He makes sure that all this Life and Truth and Way gets to where it’s needed most. His sheep. He is Shepherd, after all. Our comfort today and every day is that
JESUS GIVES LIFE TO HIS SHEEP.
((I. He gives earthly life.))
Now, we’ll get back to eternal life in a little bit, but that’s not the only life Jesus gives. Jesus also gives earthly life. “By Him the heavens were made” we confess in the Nicene Creed. Or as David says in Psalm 139: “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.”
The Lord’s care extends over your entire life, as it did for Elaine. “In your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” The Lord’s blessings and earthly care all planned out, all written out. Each day, every day, all written down. September 22, 1928 to March 9, 2020. A book for Elaine’s days and blessings. A book for yours, too.
The Lord Jesus cares for you. He’s your Shepherd. Each day, along with His Father, caring for you, “daily bread” from your Heavenly Father. He is your Father because, through Holy Baptism, you’re united with His Son, Jesus, and Jesus is your Good Shepherd your whole life through. Birth to death He cares for you. JESUS GIVES LIFE TO HIS SHEEP.
((II. He gives eternal life.))
Yes, JESUS GIVES LIFE TO HIS SHEEP, but not just earthly life. More importantly: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish.” They won’t die forever. He promises. It’s why He came: “To lay down My life for the sheep.” “I lay it down that I may take it up again,” He also promises. He gives His life—dies for His Sheep. Rises to Life again for them, too. He had to come back to life for them! He is “the Life.”
He delivers that life to His sheep. “I know my own,” He says. He gives lift each of His sheep. In the waters of Holy Baptism, we are buried into Christ’s own death and raised up in the power of His resurrection. “I have called you by name. You are Mine,” the Lord Promises through Isaiah. Baptized into her Good Shepherd, Elaine is forever clothed with His life and righteousness. That’s also the promise of Christ to you in your Holy Baptism.
She received further promise of that eternal in Christ’s Supper. There He fed her with His own body and blood for the forgiveness of her sins. His crucified and raised body and blood. You, too. There He delivers the medicine of eternal life, so that you will not die, but live forever with Him. It’s true not a lie.
The Lord Jesus cares for you. He’s your Shepherd. JESUS GIVES LIFE TO HIS SHEEP.
Along with the Holy Spirit, He’s keeping you in that eternal life by delivering His own life to you. That eternal life is yours. That’s also written in a book. The Book of Life that we heard about in Daniel. In Christ, your name is written in that book. A gift given in your Baptism. From Baptism until the Resurrection on the Last Day, Jesus and His Spirit, are giving you life: washed over you, in your ears with His Word—“My sheep hear my voice”—and in your mouth with His own body and blood given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins, and “where there’s the forgiveness of sins, there is also life.”
JESUS GIVES LIFE TO HIS SHEEP. He is “the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” and no one is able to snatch you from His nail-scarred hands. He’s died and risen from the for you. Not even death can stop Him. Not Elaine’s death. Not yours either. He’s the Good Shepherd who died and rose and gives that same life to His Sheep.
It’s all been written out. His plan for saving you. Birth to death. Each blessing. Baptism to eternal life. Your name in the Book. Nothing can snatch you from Jesus’ hands. Not His Father’s hands either. Jesus and the Spirit are making sure of that through Jesus’ Word, Promises, and the Gifts of His Baptism and Supper.
But there’s one more promise. “He will wipe away every tear from their eye.” That’s even the tears your shedding today. Each tear. Every tear. As David notes: “You have kept count of my tossings; put my tears in your bottle. Are they not in your book?”
Your Redeemer, your Good Shepherd lives. You will rise from the dead, too. That’s His promise. JESUS GIVES LIFE TO HIS SHEEP, “and you”, risen from the dead, “will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”