November 20, 2011
TEXT: Matthew 25:31-46/Ezk 34:11-16, 20-24/1 Co 15:20-28
WHO IS YOUR SHEPHERD?
Rev. Gary Gehlbach

In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. (Mt 25:31-33 ESV).

Grace and peace to you from our Triune God who has showered His mercy upon us.

Even before their works are revealed, those who gathered before the throne of the Son of Man are identified as sheep or goats. It was not their works which made them sheep or goats. It was their status as sheep or goats which made their works good or evil.

November 20, 2011
TEXT: Matthew 25:31-46/Ezk 34:11-16, 20-24/1 Co 15:20-28
WHO IS YOUR SHEPHERD?
Rev. Gary Gehlbach


In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.


When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. (Mt 25:31-33 ESV).

Grace and peace to you from our Triune God who has showered His mercy upon us.

Even before their works are revealed, those who gathered before the throne of the Son of Man are identified as sheep or goats. It was not their works which made them sheep or goats. It was their status as sheep or goats which made their works good or evil.


The point of this story is not about doing good works. There are many non-Christians who do good works. We cannot distinguish between Christians and non-Christians by their work. In fact, you may notice that many non-Christians do far greater works of charity. Remember: It was not their works which made them sheep or goats. It was their status as sheep or goats which made their works good or evil.

You are sheep because Christ made you His sheep. Listen to the prophet Ezekiel:

For thus says the Lord GOD: Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep and will seek them out. As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness. And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them. (Ezk 34:11-13 ESV)

As your shepherd, the Lord Jesus has searched for you and found you. He has rescued you from every peril of body and soul.

On the Day of Judgment, you will be seen as you truly are – a sheep of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ. You will see who your shepherd is and what He has done to rescue you, gather you, and feed you.

WHO IS YOUR SHEPHERD? Ezekiel describes the shepherd as the one who searches for his lost sheep, who rescues his sheep from peril and danger, who gathers his sheep to himself from all the far places, who feeds his flock in the good places

The goats may, at first, be numbered with the sheep. Soon, however, their stubbornness reveals that they truly do not want a shepherd. They continually wander off from the flock. They continually place themselves in danger and peril. They do not care what they eat. Goats do not have shepherd. The shepherd wants the goats be part of the flock, but the goats want nothing to do with the shepherd. The goats are those who are separated from Christ and who remain in union with the Old Adam in death and under condemnation.

Martin Luther has some harsh words about sheep who do not heed the voice of Christ from their pastors:

"We ought not act like thoughtless, brutish clods, like the peasants, [politicians], and [celebrity] of today who, though they see that they must die, nevertheless they despise God and his Word, and succumb to death like cattle.

Surely an alarming attitude in the face of death’s reality! They brashly despise God who offers them his grace. What? say these knaves, should I listen to the parson? Pass the beer, let us have a drink! O you shameful, miserable swine! Can you thus despise your Lord and God who so kindly invites you? …. When your God and Lord wants to give you life, you despise and reject him, and try to keep him from speaking any longer to you in sermons; you have no desire to learn how to call upon him in time of need. I say it is disgraceful that our Lord God offers his help uselessly to people who beat against the wind, but have no other source of help. The result of such false security and despising of God will be that they coast along in the devil’s name, until they come into hell and are lost eternally." (Martin Luther, Haus Postil, Trinity 24)

Whenever we dismiss God’s Word, we are like the goats who want no shepherd. You and I can look at our lives and see that we could easily be numbered with goats. Do we not wander off from the flock when we are not faithful and diligent in hearing and receiving God’s Word? We pray “lead us not into temptation” but we place ourselves in the midst of temptation, which are dangerous and perilous to body and soul. Rather than eating and drinking the good gifts of God’s Word and Sacraments, we turn to the mal-nourishment which the world offers in our culture, from TV to movies to sports to greed and covetousness.

WHO IS YOUR SHEPHERD? Although we are wandering like the goats, Christ remains your Good Shepherd. He does not abandon His flock. He guards and defends His flock. He feeds His flock with heavenly food.

The truth behind today’s Gospel is that Christ Jesus has made you His sheep. The sheep are those who are in Christ, who belong to the Good Shepherd, and who share in His resurrection and His life (1 Cor 15:21f). Christ Jesus became a sheep so that His blood would be shed in your place. He offered His blood in order that you might have peace with God. It is His blood which marks you as His sheep.

Those who are in Christ are His sheep. His sheep love Him. They desire every good gift which comes from Him, namely, forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. Christ’s sheep love Christ and His gifts and those who bring His gifts to them, namely the preachers of the Gospel, Word and Sacraments, and Absolution. 

In today’s Gospel, you heard the distinction between the sheep and the goats. The sheep did not realize that Christ was in their midst, yet they had received His ministry and ministers with joy. The goats, on the other hand, not only did not realize Christ in their midst, but they spurned and despised the gifts He gave.

Those who despise and spurn God’s gifts end up in hell forever. In today’s Gospel, Christ says that hell was not prepared for them but for Satan. Yet, because they despised God’s ministry, they put their lot in with Satan and thus received Satan’s reward, eternal damnation.

So what happens to those who live, revel, and rejoice in Christ and in His ministry. You receive what the Triune God prepared for you from the foundation of the world, prepared through Christ’s suffering and death. You receive eternal life and eternal peace through the forgiveness of all your sins.

WHO IS YOUR SHEPHERD? Your shepherd is the Great Shepherd who laid down His life for you. From Christ’s side has come forth water and blood which has purified and cleansed you. This blood and water brings perfect healing to you in both body and soul. From His side, He claimed you as His own and gave you perfect peace with God, perfect remission of your sins, and perfect life with Him in heaven.

As His sheep He cares for you. He has drawn you to Himself by Himself coming to you in your flesh. You were strangers and He welcomed you as family – children of His Father – and He gathered you into His Body, the Church. He clothes your sinful nakedness in the righteousness of Christ in Holy Baptism. Your hunger and thirst is satisfied when He gives you His very body and blood to eat and to drink for forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation. You were sick in sin and Christ has brought you forgiveness of sin. You were held captive to death and the grave and Christ has set you free by suffering your death and resting in your grave and rising victorious over death and the grave.

You are sheep of Your Good Shepherd who has gathered you to Himself. He has declared you holy and righteous in His blood. Come, you who are blessed by His Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Mt 25:34 ESV).
 
THE PRAYERS

P Let us pray for the whole Church of God in Christ Jesus and for all people according to their needs.  

A For the Church as she waits with eager expectation for the revealing of her King, that she may welcome Him with joy, let us pray to the Lord.
C Lord, have mercy.


A For our congregation, that we may grow in the grace of giving and in our joy of serving Christ in the least of His brothers and sisters, loving Him in the hungry and the poor, the prisoners and the sick, and all who do not believe, let us pray to the Lord.
C Lord, have mercy.


A For all relief efforts in Christ’s Church, that through their devoted service the disinherited and downtrodden would receive Christ’s mercy, hear the Gospel of Christ and be given the hope of everlasting life, let us pray to the Lord.
C Lord, have mercy.


A For all the baptized, that we might live watchful and sober lives, eagerly looking forward to the joy of our Lord’s appearing, let us pray to the Lord.
C Lord, have mercy.


A For our government, for all who make, administer, and judge our laws, for our armed forces, and for all who serve to bring order and justice out of chaos and power seeking, out of greed and reckless spending, that God’s protecting hand may rest on them and further them in every good deed, let us pray to the Lord.
C Lord, have mercy.


A For all sisters and brothers of the Savior who cry out in their time of need, especially all who have asked for our prayers, including Winnie, Luke, Janet, Krisi, Hannah, Marlowe, Helen, Fran, Terri, Wendy, and Zane and his sons, that Christ would be to them their Health in sickness, their Joy in sorrow, and their Life in death, let us pray to the Lord.
C Lord, have mercy.


A For the faithful in heaven who await the day of the resurrection, let us give our thanks and praise to God and with all God’s saints ask that that day may come swiftly.  In thanksgiving for Lester and Marce and all who we name in our hearts who are now at rest with Christ… let us pray to the Lord.  
C Lord, have mercy. 


A For all who commune today, that receiving at the altar a foretaste of the feast to come, they may be forgiven, renewed, and strengthened to set their hope fully on the grace revealed in our Savior, let us pray to the Lord.
C Lord, have mercy.


A For the whole Church in heaven and on earth as we wait with eager joy for our Lord’s triumphant return, that God will send Him forth, and that He might renew all things according to His gracious promises, and bring us at last to see that Kingdom prepared for us from the foundation of the world, let us pray to the Lord.
C Lord, have mercy.


P Into Your hands, O Lord, we commend all for whom we pray,  trusting in Your mercy, through Your Son, Jesus Christ, our  Lord.
C Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a