Photo by Biegun Wschodni on Unsplash
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || VIDEO
INI + AMEN.
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
“Look, I am the One will look for My sheep and will seek them out.” ”I am the One who will shepherd My sheep, and I am the One who will make them lie down, declares the Lord Yahweh. I will seek the lost. I will bring back the strays. I will bandage the injured. I will strengthen the weak.”
This promise is kept in Jesus. Jesus is the fulfillment of this prophetic promise. “I will…” says the Lord. Can’t get more certain than that! What He says, He does. What He does, He says. That is, He doesn’t just do what He says He’ll do. That would be enough. No, He does what He does, and then He says it. He tells you about it, has it preached to you.
What does the Lord do? Simply put: He shepherds. He’s the Shepherd of His sheep. The Lord Yahweh is. God of the Old Testament. That’s Jesus. God of the whole Bible! Jesus is the One who makes this promise through Ezekiel, and He is the One who makes good on this promise. He does it. He makes it happen. That’s the sort of Jesus He is FOR YOU.
There’s no other Jesus than the One who does His promised doing, the One who shepherds. He is Shepherd! True Shepherd. Good Shepherd. Only God can be… That’s Jesus. And who does He shepherd? His sheep. They are His sheep because He says they are, and you know they’re His sheep because of what He does for them. He shepherds them. All of them. No sheep of His left out. He looks for them all.
That’s what it means for Jesus to be Good Shepherd. It means He shepherds. He shepherds His sheep. He shepherds all His sheep—every last one of them. They are He. He is theirs. Yes,
JESUS SHEPHERDS ALL HIS SHEEP.
((I. He dies and rises for them.))
But what does it mean for Jesus to shepherd His sheep? It means He lays down His life for them. His life tendered in exchange for theirs, for yours. He’s no hired hand. He cares for the sheep. He sees the wolf coming, and doesn’t run the other way. He runs headlong to meet the wolf. He’d rather let the wolf feast on Him rather than let anything happen to His sheep. His sheep—not just all of them, but each of them individually—are more important to Him than life itself. (He looks for even 1 out of 100.)
Jesus is betrayed into the hands of sinful men. He is rejected by those who preached His prophetic Word. He is attacked by the devil. He suffers. He is crucified. He dies. Your Good Shepherd God, Jesus, died for His sheep, in your place, His life FOR YOU. “On a day of clouds and thick darkness.” “There was darkness over the whole land from noon until three.” “By His wounds you are healed,” “rescued from all the places where you’ve been scattered.” From your sins, from your death, from seeking greener pastures for yourself.
“I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.” To shepherd His sheep doesn’t just mean Jesus dies for them because the only way to bring other sheep after laying down His life is to rise from the dead. In fact the very next verse after our Gospel reading Jesus promises: “I lay down my life that I may take it up again.”
To shepherd means to die and to rise for His sheep. That’s what Jesus does. He makes good on that promise. “I will” says the Lord. Can’t get more certain than that! JESUS SHEPHERDS ALL HIS SHEEP. That’s Calvary. “When I am lifted up I will draw all men to Myself.” That’s Easter, too! “He is risen just as He said.” His body on the cross and His empty tomb are how JESUS SHEPHERDS ALL HIS SHEEP, saving them.
But the Lord’s got another promise He makes good on. “They will hear my voice.” He goes where His sheep need Him to go. He’s not far off. Psalm 23: “For You are with me.” That’s His baptismal promise in Matthew 28. “Make disciples by baptizing them and teaching them, and, look, I’m with you always.” How with? How always? Such promise! In the Word and through the Water and Word!
Just like He’s promised, Jesus is close at hand. “He’s by our side upon the plain.” He stands by us and with us. Or to put it another way: Jesus shepherding His sheep means that He makes sure they’re in earshot of Him.
((II. He speaks His Word to them.))
JESUS SHEPHERDS ALL HIS SHEEP. Present tense. Right now. He speaks. His sheep listen. “They will hear My voice” Jesus promises. His Word is what makes them His sheep, His disciples. The Water and Word of Holy Baptism. He makes you His sheep. “Still waters” for you. You’re baptized! His Holy Word also makes you His disciple, the teaching of it, the hearing of it, then comes then cherishing it, too. What the shepherd speaks the sheep hear. Where He leads they go. What He gives, body and blood, they eat…they drink. His timing, His giving.
His Word is how they know Him. “I know my own and My own know me.” “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” Through His Word Jesus delivers Himself to you again and again. There you learn of Him, hear Him. There He sustains you. “Man does not live by bread alone but by every Word that comes from the mouth of God,” the mouth of your Good Shepherd Jesus. He speaks His Father’s Spirit-filled Word. Through His Word Jesus is with you.
Those who don’t want His Word are not His sheep. They reject the still waters of their baptism. They are the fat and strong, but only in themselves. The lost, the strays have a Shepherd—He will find them. The injured and weak have a Healer. The sinful have a Forgiver. The dead have a Resurrector. Those who are dirty a Cleaner. Those who are hungry have a Feeder. “But the fat and the strong” have a Destroyer, declares the Lord.
His Word is for all His sheep. “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” That’s you and me. We’re that promise. “I will bring them out from the [nations (LXX)].” “Make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to cherish all I have commanded you, and, look, I am with you always even till the end of the age.” JESUS SHEPHERDS ALL HIS SHEEP.
“I will…” says the Lord. Can’t get more certain than that! And there’s no other Jesus than the One who does His promised doing, the One who shepherds. He is Shepherd! True Shepherd. Good Shepherd. Only God can be… That’s Jesus, and JESUS SHEPHERDS ALL HIS SHEEP.
How does He shepherd? He dies and rises for His sheep, for you. He doesn’t turn the other way. He heads into disaster, into death, so that nothing will happen to His sheep. He also rises for them, that they—you!—would rise from the dead, too!
He still shepherds. Present tense. Right now. “I seek the lost. I bring back the strays. I bandage the injured. I strengthen the weak.” Close at hand He does. “You are with Me” is the promise. He is Immanuel Shepherd.
He does that through His Word. His sheep are in earshot of Him. He makes sure of that. In the Word and through the Water and Word, Jesus shepherds. Such promise! He will never leave you or forsake you. Nothing can change that: not sin, not death, not a virus, either. Even till the end of the age!
JESUS SHEPHERDS ALL HIS SHEEP. ”He’s by our side upon the plain with His good Gifts and Spirit. And take they our life, Goods, fame, child, and wife, Though these all be gone, Our vict’ry has been won; The Kingdom ours remaineth.”
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
INI + AMEN.