JOHN 10:11-16 (Misericordias Domini) 4 May 2014
Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center
The Rev. Jason D. Lane


CHRIST IS RISEN! The text is the Gospel Lesson, John 10:11-16: the parable of the Good Shepherd.


There are four characters to consider in this text.


First, there’s the GOOD SHEPHERD. And just so there’s no confusion about who that’s supposed to be, Jesus says, verse 11, I’M THE GOOD SHEPHERD. THE GOOD SHEPHERD LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR THE SAKE OF THE SHEEP—His life for their life traded. [V. 14] I’M THE GOOD SHEPHERD, AND I KNOW MY SHEEP AND MY SHEEP KNOW ME. He loves the sheep and He’d rather die than lose any of the ones entrusted to His care. He defends them against all danger, and guards and protects them from all evil. In the darkness and in the valleys and shadows, the Good Shepherd keeps vigil, AND MAKETH the sheep LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES; He NEITHER SLUMBERS NOR SLEEPS. And if a wolf comes, He doesn’t run. He stays by the sheep, because He loves them. He doesn’t hide; He picks up His staff of wood and goes out to meet that predator in the dark.

Second, there’re the sheep. They’re not just any sheep; they’re His sheep, the GOOD SHEPHERD’s sheep, and He knows them. How could He not know them? CAN A MOTHER FORGET THE CHILD SHE NURSED? Can God forget the child He baptized and CALLED BY NAME? Thus says the Lord, “EVEN THOUGH YOU MAY FORGET, YET I WILL NOT FORGET YOU.” He knows them and they know Him. They know His voice and so wherever He goes they follow Him as He speaks His Word to them. And as long as they hear His voice, they don’t go where they want; they go wherever the Good Shepherd leads them and trust that wherever His voice calls and gathers them, that’s where it’s safe. The only reason sheep wander from a Good Shepherd is because they’ve stopped listening to His voice. Oh, beloved, how badly do foolish sheep need to listen to that voice! If we stop listening we’ll wander. And if we wander from Him, what exactly are we wandering to? In the dark and alone and out of earshot of our Shepherd’s voice, what’s going to stop us from wandering into the wolf’s mouth?

JOHN 10:11-16 (Misericordias Domini) 4 May 2014
Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center
The Rev. Jason D. Lane


CHRIST IS RISEN! The text is the Gospel Lesson, John 10:11-16: the parable of the Good Shepherd.


There are four characters to consider in this text.


First, there’s the GOOD SHEPHERD. And just so there’s no confusion about who that’s supposed to be, Jesus says, verse 11, I’M THE GOOD SHEPHERD. THE GOOD SHEPHERD LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR THE SAKE OF THE SHEEP—His life for their life traded. [V. 14] I’M THE GOOD SHEPHERD, AND I KNOW MY SHEEP AND MY SHEEP KNOW ME. He loves the sheep and He’d rather die than lose any of the ones entrusted to His care. He defends them against all danger, and guards and protects them from all evil. In the darkness and in the valleys and shadows, the Good Shepherd keeps vigil, AND MAKETH the sheep LIE DOWN IN GREEN PASTURES; He NEITHER SLUMBERS NOR SLEEPS. And if a wolf comes, He doesn’t run. He stays by the sheep, because He loves them. He doesn’t hide; He picks up His staff of wood and goes out to meet that predator in the dark.

Second, there’re the sheep. They’re not just any sheep; they’re His sheep, the GOOD SHEPHERD’s sheep, and He knows them. How could He not know them? CAN A MOTHER FORGET THE CHILD SHE NURSED? Can God forget the child He baptized and CALLED BY NAME? Thus says the Lord, “EVEN THOUGH YOU MAY FORGET, YET I WILL NOT FORGET YOU.” He knows them and they know Him. They know His voice and so wherever He goes they follow Him as He speaks His Word to them. And as long as they hear His voice, they don’t go where they want; they go wherever the Good Shepherd leads them and trust that wherever His voice calls and gathers them, that’s where it’s safe. The only reason sheep wander from a Good Shepherd is because they’ve stopped listening to His voice. Oh, beloved, how badly do foolish sheep need to listen to that voice! If we stop listening we’ll wander. And if we wander from Him, what exactly are we wandering to? In the dark and alone and out of earshot of our Shepherd’s voice, what’s going to stop us from wandering into the wolf’s mouth?  


Jesus says: “I’M THE GOOD SHEPHERD.” But notice how not all are His sheep. He doesn’t say, “You are all My sheep,” as though everyone is no matter what they believe or what they do. He says: “I KNOW MY SHEEP AND MY SHEEP KNOW ME.” And yet how incomprehensible that the GOOD SHEPHERD LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE  not only for those who would believe, but for all. He makes no distinctions. As it is written: FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD…, and JUST AS IN ADAM ALL DIED, SO IN CHRIST WILL ALL BE MADE ALIVE. But there are so many who resist His grace and won’t come when He calls. O JERUSALEM, JERUSALEM, HOW I’VE LONGED TO GATHER YOU…BUT YOU WOULD NOT; MANY ARE CALLED BUT FEW ARE CHOSEN.


There are many who say that they’re chosen and that they belong to Christ but don’t come when He calls. I mean, how can they be Christ’s lambs when they’re not among the flock? How can they be safe if they’re not where Christ’s voice can be heard? It’s bound to happen that if you stop listen to the voice, you make your own. You become your own bishop rather than being led by THE true BISHOP OF THEIR SOULS. Jesus makes the clear distinction: MY SHEEP KNOW ME. But you can’t be His sheep if you don’t hear His voice that calls us to repentance, to receive His grace and forgiveness. Those who are not His sheep don’t want to do better, which means they don’t really care what it cost the Shepherd to save them. 


There are others still that Christ will speak of—and I can’t imagine them being here—but they appear among the flock. They creep in and they even look like sheep on the outside, BUT INSIDE THEY’RE RAVENOUS WOLVES, who refuse to gather with Christ, but seek only to scatter. They are, as St. Jude says, UNGODLY PEOPLE WHO PERVERT THE GRACE OF GOD INTO their own gain AND DENY the only Shepherd of their souls. They push and pry at the sheep to get what they want. They push and pry at the under-shepherd. And if they don’t get their way, they either abandon the flock, or tear it apart. Christ says: WHOEVER DOES NOT GATHER WITH ME, SCATTERS. But every sheep of Christ’s flock will recognize who’s out to scatter the flock. The sheep discern all things, because they have the mind of Christ.  The Lord says to us, “YOU’LL RECOGNIZE BY THEIR FRUITS.”


But don’t be afraid of them, THE GOOD SHEPHERD says: “I KNOW MY SHEEP AND MY SHEEP KNOW ME,” because Christ doesn’t look at the wool; He looks at the sheep. He doesn’t look at the outward appearance or the works; He’s looking for faith and the repentant heart. His sheep are the ones who know Him because they know His commandments and it breaks their heart to see how they’ve sinned against Him. His sheep, of course, know their sin and how they’ve wandered, but they’re also the ones who, when they hear the Shepherd’s Gospel Voice, when they hear Him call to the broken hearted, the sinners, to sheep who know how He should’ve abandoned them long ago, they come, weary and heavy laden, to Him for rest. They love that voice and trust His word and live by His word alone. Those are Christ’s lambs. “I KNOW MY SHEEP AND MY SHEEP KNOW ME.”


The third character in our text is the hired hand. Any hired hand is supposed to do the work of the one who hired him. But, [Vv. 12-13], THE HIRED HAND DOESN’T ACT LIKE A SHEPHERD, BECAUSE THE SHEEP DON’T BELONG TO HIM. WHEN HE SEES A WOLF COMING, HE ABANDONS THE SHEEP AND RUNS AWAY—AND THE WOLF DRAGS THEM OFF AND SCATTERS THE FLOCK. HE RUNS AWAY BECAUSE HE’S A HIRED HAND; HE DOESN’T CARE ABOUT THE SHEEP. Every man who’s been entrusted with the Ministry of preaching Christ’s Word and has not spoken as the living voice of Christ among His flock, that is, in His church, is a hired hand. They’re looking out for themselves, not for the flock. And since they’re just out to save their own skin, of course they’re not going to risk anything for Christ’s flock. And you won’t find them feeding His lambs with His word of forgiveness, or defending the flock from false doctrine, from gross sin, or the attacks of Satan.


Take, for example, Judas. When Judas, one of Christ’s sheep, saw that he’d betrayed innocent blood, when he realized that his wandering led the wolf right to his Shepherd, he repented, that is, his heart was broken and contrite, and certainly a broken and contrite heart the Lord would not despise, but he didn’t go to the Lord. He didn’t go to the Shepherd of his soul, like broken and contrite Simon Peter would. Instead Judas went with his broken heart and blood money to the high priests, those HIRED HANDS, who’d do anything, even kill the Son of God to save themselves and their reputation. Judas wanted absolution. BUT in his moment of greatest need, they abandoned him, because they didn’t CARE ABOUT THE SHEEP. They said: “WHAT’S THAT TO US, Judas? SEE TO IT YOURSELF,” and they let the wolf snatch that sheep away. 


That brings us to the wolf, the enemy in the dark, THE DEVIL AND SATAN, who works in the shadows to snatch the sheep away, to take what he can and divide and scatter the rest from the Good Shepherd. On that night, when Christ was betrayed, Satan went for the flock. SIMON, SIMON, SATAN HAS ASK TO SCATTER ALL OF YOU. And Jesus said: “YOU WILL ALL FALL AWAY ON ACCOUNT OF ME THIS NIGHT; STRIKE THE SHEPHERD AND THE SHEEP WILL SCATTER.”


Of course, His disciples didn’t have to scatter when the wolf came, they could have been take down with the Shepherd, but Christ did have to suffer. The SHEPHERD LAYS DOWN HIS LIFE FOR THE SHEEP. And you notice here that it can’t be the other way around. The sheep don’t lay down their life for the Shepherd, as much as Simon Peter wanted to, and however much you and I want to. He says: “I’M THE ONE YOU WANT; LET THESE OTHERS GO.” And He stepped out into the darkness to face a pack of wolves: sin, death, and the devil. I’M THE ONE YOU WANT. LET THESE OTHERS GO.


Only Jesus was left. Only Jesus would give His life as a ransom for the sheep. They scattered. And it sounds hopeless. What kind of Shepherd is He that He lays down His life, while His sheep scatter? What kind of Shepherd is He that He gives Himself up to death. The Shepherd goes like a lamb to slaughter and the sheep take cover? But what cover did they have without Him? They were alone in the dark without Him, with a predator on the loose.


Jesus says: [14] I’M THE GOOD SHEPHERD, AND I KNOW MY [SHEEP] AND MY [SHEEP] KNOW ME, [15] JUST AS THE FATHER KNOWS ME AND I KNOW THE FATHER; AND I’M LAYING DOWN MY LIFE FOR THE SHEEP. Beloved, if that we’re it, that He lays down His life we’d still be scattered and we’d be doubting that He ever loved us or cared for us. If that were it, our faith in Him is totally in vain.


But CHRIST IS RISEN! He’s back from the dead and back from that strange and dreadful strife, when death and life contended. But the victory remained with Life. All sin, all death, and all of Satan’s accusations unleashed their power on Him. He took in on His body and nailed it to the wood of the cross. And now He’s back with nothing but Good News. GO TELL MY DISCIPLES, He says. Go tell my scattered sheep. He restores His wandering sheep and He calls to them, not with a dead voice from the grave, but with a living voice back from the dead. And He says: PEACE TO YOU, AS THE FATHER HAS SENT ME, SO I’M SENDING YOU. His disciples become His apostles, His sent ones. Why? It’s because, [v. 16] I STILL HAVE OTHER SHEEP THAT AREN’T OF THIS SHEEP PEN. I HAVE TO BRING THEM IN, TOO, AND THEY’LL HEAR MY VOICE, AND THEY’LL BECOME ONE FLOCK, ONE SHEPHERD.


His living voice is sounding out into all the world. And it’s here among you now, to gather you in. The Word is near to you, in your hearts and coming into your ears; TAKE AND EAT, and coming into your mouth. Here He offers you the fruits of His passion and death. Look what He won! This dead-and-now-alive-forever Savior is offering you forgiveness, complete remission of your sins—as in, no more sin on you at all. I know, you may say, “Yeah, but we’ve all like sheep gone astray, remember? Each one his own way, remember?” How can we come back now? But, isn’t this marvelous? Here you are. You’ve been gathered. Or as St. Peter says, “YOU’VE TURNED BACK TO THE SHEPHERD AND BISHOP OF YOUR SOULS.”


Why did scattered sheep come back to Him? It’s because He came back for them. And maybe that’s why, sometimes, after we’ve wandered, it’s so hard for us to meet Him here. What would He say this Sunday? After how I treated Him? After how cold I’ve been with my witness and my study of His Word? How can I come back to Him, when I’ve strayed so often? How can I keep coming with the same confession: “I’ve sinned against You in thought, word, and deed”? And “Lord, I’ve wandered again!” But look at what He did on Easter Morning! He went and He gathered His disciples. And when they were scared and hiding, He was seeking. And He found them and He said: “PEACE TO YOU” And you’ll hear it in a moment: “THE PEACE OF THE LORD BE WITH YOU ALWAYS.” It means: the One who keeps coming to seek and to save the lost has found what He was looking for. And it’s okay, He’s here now. It’s safe. Don’t be afraid.


He’s not here to remind us of our sins or our wanderings, but to tell us this incomprehensibly Good News: the sins that you’re worried about, that are eating at your soul, they’re gone; paid for in full; nailed to the cross; buried in the tomb; and nowhere to be found on you anymore. What’s yours is the shelter of the Almighty and eternal life. The Shepherd says to His Father in Heaven: “REJOICE WITH ME! I’VE FOUND MY LOST SHEEP.” And all of heaven rejoices over one sinner who repents. So however far we’ve wandered, He’s here. And if you hear His voice, that means you’re His, and you will know the voice that says to you now “Come, everything’s ready.” 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