Photo by Qingbao Meng on Unsplash
Bethlehem Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
Immanuel Lutheran Church—Bremen, KS || AUDIO
᛭ INI ᛭
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. He is Christ. He’s anointed. “Christ” means “Anointed One.” Kings were anointed. Christ, then, means King.
King means shepherd. The King after God’s own heart, often not in behavior but in faith, was David. The shepherd boy, David, was anointed as King over all Israel. Shepherd then not just of literal sheep, but the shepherd of the people of Israel.
Yahweh, the LORD, was the true King. The Israelites didn’t want Him as their King. They wanted a king like the nations; they got Saul. The LORD wasn’t just their King. He was their Shepherd, too. “We are His people, the sheep of His pasture,” we just sang. He is the One “who shepherded Israel like a flock.” Not just Israel, though—Israel’s King, too. So David says, “Yahweh, the LORD, is my Shepherd,” my King, my Lord, my God.
The LORD, David’s King, Israel’s Shepherd, is Jesus. Jesus is the true King of the Jews. He is “Lord and God,” as Thomas confessed last week. He is the true Shepherd, “the Good Shepherd,” as Jesus says today in John. Just like He promised—Jesus promised—through Ezekiel, “I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep.”
But Jesus is King, Jesus is Lord and God, Jesus is Shepherd in His way. He doesn’t rule His people, doesn’t manage the universe, doesn’t care for His people, His Kings, you and me, according to the way we’d do it. No, Jesus is King His way. He is Lord and God the way He chooses and wants to be Lord and God. (That’s the benefit of being God!) He defines what it means to be Shepherd, what it means to act like a Shepherd.
So, how exactly does Jesus shepherd you? Well,
JESUS SHEPHERDS YOU THROUGH DEATH AND RESURRECTION.
((I. Jesus shepherds you through His death and resurrection.))
Now, what does it mean that JESUS SHEPHERDS YOU THROUGH DEATH AND RESURRECTION? Well, first of all, it means that Jesus shepherds you through His death and resurrection.
Jesus goes to His death. He “lays down His life for the sheep.” He’s no hired hand. He doesn’t run away from danger. He runs towards it! If there’s a wolf He puts Himself into its jaw. If there’s death to be had, it won’t be His sheep who will do the dying. He’ll die in their place. If it means He’s devoured instead of them, then that’s what He’ll do. “For the joy that was set before Him Christ endured the cross, despising its shame.”
Jesus is most King, most Shepherd—Jesus is most Jesus—when “He saves His people from their sins.” At Calvary, He truly is “The King of the Jews.” Shedding His blood to “pay for the sins of His people,” your sins, too. There Jesus is King on His throne, crowned even, and if King, then Shepherd. He Himself goes into “the Valley of the Shadow of Death”—“Golgotha, the Place of the Skull.” Not just into death’s valley and shadow, into death itself! “He breathed His last,” “crucified, died, and was buried.”
But the Lord doesn’t just shepherd through His death. He shepherds through His resurrection, too. “I lay down My life that I may take it up again.” That’s what Jesus says later on in John 10. God the Father “did not let His holy One,” His Son, “see corruption.” “I have set My King on Zion, My holy hill.”
Jesus is everlasting King, everlasting Shepherd. “He died once for all,” but now “Christ has been raised from the dead!” “Raised from the dead, He will never die again. Death has no more dominion over Him.” “I am the First and the Last,” Jesus says, “the Living One; I was dead, and look I am alive forever and ever. I have the keys of death and hell.”
Jesus dies and comes back to life. That’s how He’s Shepherd, Good Shepherd—yours and mine. The Shepherd was Sheep, “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” And “The Lamb who was slain,” now sits “in the midst of throne,” “at the right hand of God the Father almighty.” This Jesus “will shepherd His people,” His saints, you and me, “and He will lead us to streams of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.” And this gets us to the second thing I want to talk about today.
((II. Jesus shepherds you through your death and resurrection.))
Now, when JESUS SHEPHERDS YOU THROUGH DEATH AND RESURRECTION, it doesn’t just mean that He shepherds you through His death and resurrection. It also means that Jesus shepherds you through your death and resurrection.
We’re all going to die. For some of us, that seems to be something far into the future. For some of you, that’s a lot closer than you probably care to admit or even think about. But no matter who you are, “the wages of sin is death.” Sinners die, not just because of the sins we commit, but because we are sinners. Sinners sin, and sinners die.
But the Lord Jesus is the Shepherd of sinners. He shepherds sinners who die, who will die, who have died. He shepherds them through the gate of death and the grave. He is with them through death. “No one can snatch them out of My hand.” He shepherds them by means of His death, His death in their place, His death for their guilt and condemnation. Now, we don’t have to die afraid or with guilt, because Christ the guiltless Son of God, died condemned, guilty for us.
But the comfort of the Lord’s death pales in comparison to the comfort of His empty tomb. The Lord doesn’t just shepherd you to your death. He doesn’t just shepherd you through your death. He shepherds you from your death. He shepherds you through resurrection, too!
You share in Jesus’ resurrection. You have been baptized. The comfort of your baptism is that you’ve already died and risen with Jesus! His death is yours. His empty tomb is your empty tomb! As it happened with Jesus it will happen for you—death, coming back to life, empty casket—all because you already have participated in His death and resurrection in Holy Baptism. His Gift to you.
You will share in Jesus’ resurrection. He will raise you from your grave. He holds the keys of death, and so He will raise your body from the dead. He will bring you back to life. You will share in His unending, eternal life. His gift to you.
You know it’s coming, believe it’s coming! After all, He Himself rose from the dead! “Could the Head Rise and leave His members dead?” Absolutely not! You’ve received it. Holy Baptism. “For if we have been united with Him in a death like His, we shall surely be united with Him in a resurrection like His.” But not just Holy Baptism. Communion, too!
“This is My Body, this is My blood, given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins.” And “where there is the forgiveness of sins there is also life and salvation.” Jesus promises, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains with Me and I with him, and I will resurrect Him on the Last Day.” Jesus’ flesh and blood, His body and blood are life-giving. Communion is “the antidote that you would not die [forever] but live forever with Jesus Christ.”
The Lord shepherds you through your death and resurrection, but also through the death of those you love, too. “You don’t have a High Priest,” a King, a Shepherd, “who is unable to sympathize with you in your weakness.” He mourned with those who mourned, wept with those who wept. “Jesus wept” at the graveside of His friend, Lazarus. His tears sanctify your, His grief carries you through yours.
In Jesus, “we don’t grieve as those who don’t have hope.” Jesus raised His beloved Lazarus. He’ll raise your loved ones who died in Him, too. He’ll raise you, too. Even besides that, the Lord knows all your tears. Counts them. They are in His book. He’s kept a record. He knows exactly which tears He will wipe away forever.
JESUS SHEPHERDS YOU THROUGH DEATH AND RESURRECTION. That’s how He’s your Good Shepherd. That’s how He’s King. “Jesus of Nazareth the King of the Jews.” “Dying for the sins of His people.” Your sins. My sins. “The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” He rises from the dead! He came back to life on the third day, “never to die again.” Jesus shepherds you through His death and resurrection.
Jesus also shepherds you through your death and resurrection. You will die. He will raise you from the dead. That’s the promise of His empty tomb. You’ve been made a part of that promise through Holy Baptism. In Jesus, through Baptism, you’ve already died and risen in Jesus’ death and resurrection. The life-giving body and blood of Jesus also deliver that promise into you. The medicine of eternal life is yours at the Supper.
Jesus is Christ. Jesus is King. Jesus is shepherd. He died. He rose. You will die. You will rise. Have to rise. Jesus is risen. You’re baptized. Yes, you will rise. (Your loved ones will, too.) After all, JESUS SHEPHERDS YOU THROUGH DEATH AND RESURRECTION—His and yours.