John 10:22-30 (Acts 20:17-35; Revelation 7:9-17)
Rev. Gary V. Gehlbach, Assistant Pastor, Peace Lutheran Church, Sussex, WI

Follow the Good Shepherd


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


At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:11-16).

 

The Fourth Sunday of Easter (B), 21/22 April 2013
Luther Memorial, Shorewood, WI
John 10:22-30 (Acts 20:17-35; Revelation 7:9-17)
Rev. Gary V. Gehlbach, Assistant Pastor, Peace Lutheran Church, Sussex, WI

Follow the Good Shepherd


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


At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon.
So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. I and the Father are one.” (John 10:11-16).


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


Alleluia! Christ is risen!
He is risen, indeed! Alleluia!


Last week’s Gospel was the resurrection account of our Lord feeding His disciples fish and bread by the Sea of Galilee. It ended with these words from our Lord to Peter, Follow Me. What a beautiful invitation from our Lord to a man who denied Him on oath and who did not believe the testimony of the women that Jesus had risen from the dead.


Why would our Lord extend such kindness and love toward Peter? We can begin to understand our Lord’s compassion toward Peter and the others from Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel, I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.

 

When He says, No one will snatch them out of my hand, Jesus conveys a strong message of love and compassion. Today’s Gospel builds upon the preceding verses of John’s Gospel when our Lord said, I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. … and I lay down my life for the sheep (Jn10:11,15). Later, in his epistle, John defines love when he writes, By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.


In his Revelation, John writes, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!... They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (Rev 7:10,14). Here Christ is called the Lamb of God.


Your Lord and Savior can have compassion toward you, because He is sympathetic to your plight. He is not merely your Good Shepherd. He is your Shepherd who became a sheep in order bear the burdens of your sins, pain, and sorrow - who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Php 2:6-8). He is the Suffering Servant whom Isaiah describes, He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief …. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows (Is 53:3,4). He is not unsympathetic to your struggles with sin, doubt, and temptation, because in every respect He has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hb 4:15).


He can be, and most assuredly is, your Good Shepherd because He knows His sheep –


He whom the sea
And wind obey
Doth come to serve the sinner in great meekness.
Thou, God’s own Son,
With us art one,
Dost join us and our children in our weakness. (LSB 372:2)

As you journey in this life through all the perils, struggles, heartaches, and pain, your Good Shepherd has not and will not abandon you –


Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me
And on His shoulder gently laid
And home rejoicing brought me.
In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me,
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.
And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever! (LSB 709:3,4,6)


You and I, as sheep of the Good Shepherd, can take great comfort in His love for you and me. Most assuredly, you and I can look to Christ’s cross where He laid His claim on you. Most assuredly, you and I can cling to Christ’s promise to you in your baptisms where He joined Himself to you and you were joined to Him. There is no stronger bonding agent than the blood of Christ’s cross and the water of your Baptism.


Because of this blood and water, Christ can say, No one can snatch you from my hand; you are one with Christ. Because Jesus and the Father are one, Jesus can add, no one is able to snatch you out of the Father's hand. You are joined to Christ and He to you. He clings to you forever because He has taken on your flesh. And so you too can now cling to Him –


Now I will cling forever
To Christ, my Savior true;
My Lord will leave me never,

Whate’er He passes through
He rends death’s iron chain;
He breaks through sin and pain;
He shatters hell’s grim thrall;
I follow Him through all. (LSB 467:6)


Peter and the disciples heard Christ’s invitation, Follow Me. It is likewise His invitation to you. He does not ask you to “go it alone” nor to “lead the way”. To follow Christ means that He is leading. He is going into the dark places first. He confronts the danger first and guards us from it. He is the one who leads you out of your great tribulation and washes your robes and makes them white in His blood and leads you to the springs of living water and wipes away every tear from your eyes (Rev 7:14,17) –


Jesus, lead Thou on
Till our rest is won;
And although the way be cheerless,
We will follow calm and fearless.
Guide us by Thy hand
To our fatherland.
If the way be drear,
If the foe be near,
Let not faithless fears o'ertake us;
Let not faith and hope forsake us;
For through man-y??? a woe
To our home we go.
When we seek relief
From a long-felt grief,
When temptations come alluring,
Make us patient and enduring.
Show us that bright shore
Where we weep no more. (LSB 718:1-3)


The Good Shepherd is the only-begotten Son of God who laid down His life and shed His blood so that you would have eternal life. Follow your Good Shepherd to that eternal life which is yours through the forgiveness of all your sins.

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