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Jesus said, “I must bring them also.”
᛭ INI ᛭
Alleluia! Jesus Christ is risen!
He is risen indeed! Alleluia!
What sort of Shepherd is Jesus? He’s the Good Shepherd. What makes Him the Good Shepherd? Well, unlike the hired hand, Jesus goes into danger. As the hymn puts it: “What punishment so strange is suffered yonder / The Shepherd dies for sheep that loved to wander / The Master pays the debt His servants owe Him, / Who would not know Him.” (LSB 439:4)
That was then, what about now? What sort of Good Shepherd is Jesus now, though? Well, He continues to be with His sheep. Why’s He doing that? Jesus tells us today, “I must bring them.” So, He’s bringing His sheep. Bringing them where? To Himself? Well, sure. But more importantly, that means something more. “I must bring them” means
JESUS BRINGS HIS SHEEP THROUGH DEATH AND RESURRECTION.
(I. Jesus brings His sheep through His own death and resurrection.)
Good Shepherd Jesus is that because He goes through death for His sheep, undeserving though they be! “The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” “He bore their sins in His own body on the tree…by His wounds they’re healed.” (1 Pet 2) Jesus sees the wolf, the devil, coming for His sheep, and He charges in. “Through death He [destroyed] the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.“ (Heb 2) Not only did He die but also rose. “For the joy that was set before him [He] endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” I lay down My life and take it back again.” (Jn 10)
He not only goes through death, He brings His sheep to His death, or rather, brings His death to them, carries them through it, shepherds them to it. (It can be said many ways.) This is what takes place in Holy Baptism. There Jesus’ sheep are crucified and have died with Christ. “For as many of those who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death.” (Rom 6) This is also the Lord’s Supper, For it is the “communion of the body and blood of Christ.” (1 Cor 10) And “as often as we eat and drink we proclaim His death until He comes.” (1 Cor 11) His death coming to His sheep is seen in the water and the blood that come from His pierced side. (Jn 19)
Jesus also brings His sheep to and through His resurrection! This is the resurrection to new life. This, too, is Baptism and His Supper. “That we might die to sin and live to righteousness.” (1 Pet 2) “We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom 6) Of the Supper: “Where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life…” It is also actual resurrection from the dead! Baptism says, “We shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (Rom 6) Of His flesh and blood Jesus says, “Whoever eats and drinks has eternal life, and I will resurrect him.” (Jn 6)
JESUS BRINGS HIS SHEEP THROUGH DEATH AND RESURRECTION, that is, His own death and resurrection. He does this for His sheep, but who are His sheep? It is not only His people Israel, but it is even the Gentiles. “I have sheep not of this fold.” (Jn 10) “You were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.” (1 Pet 2)
His own death and resurrection is part of His seeking them out. “I myself will seek them out…on a day of clouds and thick darkness.” (Eek 34) This happens for Jew and Gentile at Calvary. “When I am lifted up,” Jesus says, “I will draw all people to myself.” (Jn 12) But even after His death and resurrection, He unites all His sheep together in Himself. “There will be one flock, one Shepherd.” (Jn 10) By Holy Baptism “you are all one in Christ Jesus.” At the table He prepares for us (Ps 23), we are all one in His body, “for there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.” (1 Cor 10)
Here Christ not only JESUS BRINGS HIS SHEEP THROUGH [his] DEATH AND RESURRECTION, but He also BRINGS HIS SHEEP THROUGH [their] DEATH AND RESURRECTION.
(II. Jesus brings His sheep through their death and resurrection.)
Jesus’ sheep go through death. They’re subject to death. Punishment for sin, “the wages of sin.” (Rom 4) We all go “through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Ps 23) “Through death He [destroyed] the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver[ed] those who were held in slavery to the fear of death all their life.“ (Heb 2)
Jesus doesn’t abandon you in the shadow of death, or even in death itself! “Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.” (Ps 23) “I am with you always.” (Mt 28) is the promise Jesus gives in Holy Baptism, and it’s also the promise made and kept through “preaching and His Word.” It’s the promise also of His Supper! “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood remains in Me and I in Him.” (Jn 6) He is shepherding us toward death and the grave as He gives us of His own death in preaching, His Word, and His Sacraments. “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Ps 23)
Jesus not only brings His sheep to their death. Jesus shepherds them to and through their own resurrection. That’s what Jesus is doing for you. He’s leading you, guiding you, along the way to life eternal, “the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.” He prepares you for it here. “Whoever eats and drinks has eternal life, and I will resurrect him.” (Jn 6) The Lord Jesus promises in Ezekiel, “I will feed them with good pasture.” (Ezek 34) Already here, so also there, as John sees in his vision, “the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev 7)
Jesus is the Good Shepherd because
JESUS BRINGS HIS SHEEP THROUGH DEATH AND RESURRECTION: HIS AND THEIR OWN!
He brings them through His death and resurrection that He underwent for them, to save them, to save you. He brings them through His death and resurrection by means of “preaching and His Word” and through Baptism and by means of the Supper of His body and blood. “They listen to My voice.” Faith does, and faith receives.
Jesus also brings them through their own death and resurrection. He shepherds them toward their own grave. Something you need not fear because you’ve already died and risen in Baptism and are united to the risen Jesus in His Word and Supper. But He is preparing you, bringing you to not only death but rising from the dead. He prepares you for this in His Supper, forgiving your sins, but at the same time promising your own resurrection on the Last Day.
JESUS BRINGS HIS SHEEP THROUGH DEATH AND RESURRECTION: HIS AND THEIR OWN!
By His Word and Sacraments, Jesus is doing this. There He gives you of His mercy, pursues you with His, chases after you to give it to you. And in bringing His Sheep, you and me, through death and resurrection, doing so here today, Psalm 23 is both fulfilled for you today and a promise of greater fulfillment on the Last Day: “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”