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Easter 4 2021 Good Shepherd Sunday 
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud 
April 24, 25, 2021
Acts 4:1-12, Psalm 23, 1 John 3:16-24, John 10:11-18

Sermons online: 
Text and Audio:         immanuelhamiltonchurch.com   click “sermons”
Text:                           pastorjud.org   
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com 
itunes:                        bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:   bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

            It is a dark night with a light wind blowing.  The sheep bleat in fear and huddle close together sensing a predator lurking nearby.  The young shepherd boy smells the bear’s musk on the wind and strains his eyes staring into the darkness trying to locate the hungry killer.  The shepherd boy loves the sheep.  They are his family business, but they are also his companions as he keeps watch over them during the long, dark nights.  He knows each sheep and each little lamb.  The bear makes his move and comes in fast toward the flock away from the shepherd boy.  The flock scatters and the bear is able to knock over a young ewe lamb and separate her from her mother.  The lamb gets back on its feet and tries to flee but the bear quickly catches the lamb in his mouth and carries her away for a feast.  

            Without warning, the knotty end of a thick wooden club crashes down on the bear’s head causing him to stumble and drop the lamb which quickly runs back to her mother.  The bear shakes his head to clear his vision and sees the young shepherd boy standing over him with a club.  The angry bear turns around and charges the shepherd boy who jumps to the side putting the bear in a headlock grabbing the fur under the bear’s chin twisting the bear onto its side with one arm while mercilessly clubbing the bear in the head with his other hand over and over and over.  The brutal clubbing continues until the bear lies dead in the bloody grass outside of Bethlehem.

            This shepherd boy’s name is David and he goes on to kill not only lions and bears threatening his family’s sheep, but also a giant Philistine warrior named Goliath who is threatening the children of Jacob; the sheep of the house of Israel.  David is God’s chosen one; anointed to be king by the Prophet Samuel.  Before becoming king, David remains faithful to faithless King Saul even while Saul tries repeatedly to kill David.  After Saul’s death David becomes King.  The Shepherd King.  Shepherding the children of Israel.  David is a good king…for a while…but then brings great shame and trouble because of his sins of adultery and murder.  David forgets that not only is he a shepherd, he is also a sheep in the flock of the Good Shepherd that he writes about in Psalm 23:1 (ESV) 1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  As a sheep David needs to follow the Good Shepherd.  

            There is an ongoing problem with the shepherds of Israel forgetting that they are sheep of the Good Shepherd and instead of caring for God’s sheep, they abuse them for selfish gain.  God rebukes the bad shepherds of Israel; both kings and religious leaders.  Ezekiel 34:1–6 (ESV) 1 The word of the Lord came to me: 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel; prophesy, and say to them, even to the shepherds, Thus says the Lord God: Ah, shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep? 3 You eat the fat, you clothe yourselves with the wool, you slaughter the fat ones, but you do not feed the sheep. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, the sick you have not healed, the injured you have not bound up, the strayed you have not brought back, the lost you have not sought, and with force and harshness you have ruled them. 5 So they were scattered, because there was no shepherd, and they became food for all the wild beasts. My sheep were scattered; 6 they wandered over all the mountains and on every high hill. My sheep were scattered over all the face of the earth, with none to search or seek for them. 

Far too often the shepherds of the sheep of Israel are faithless, selfish shepherds; including David for a time. 1,000 years after David a new shepherd king is born in Bethlehem; the City of David.  This new king’s birth is announced by angels to Bethlehem shepherds keeping watch over their flocks at night.  The Shepherd King is named Jesus; Yeshua, YHWH saves, because this baby born in Bethlehem is YHWH in flesh who has come to save His people from their sins.  Jesus has come to save the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel. 

            In our Gospel reading today Jesus has just been confronted by the Pharisees for healing a man born blind on the Sabbath day.  Jesus lets them know that they are false shepherds. John 9:39–41 (ESV)  39 Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard these things, and said to him, “Are we also blind?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains. 

            Jesus then begins teaching about Himself being the Good Shepherd.  John 10:11–15 (ESV)  11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 

            When David is confronted by a predator he risks his life to rescue the sheep and kill the predator.  Jesus handles the wolf differently.  Jesus has come to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but when the wolf attacks, Jesus does not hit the wolf with a club.  He does not grab the wolf by the chin hairs and wrestle him to the ground.  Jesus offers himself to the wolf as a substitutionary sacrifice.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, becomes the sacrificial Lamb of God and allows the wolf to savagely kill Him in order to protect the sheep.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 

            Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  A good shepherd cares for the sheep because the sheep are his own. They belong to him and he loves them, not for his own sake, but for theirs. He will not abandon them when the wolf comes. He will protect and defend them. With Him, they are secure.  With Him, you are secure.  Jesus is your Good Shepherd.  Jesus loves you and will not abandon you to the devil. 

            When David is confronted by a predator he risks his life to rescue the sheep and kill the predator.  Jesus handles the wolf differently.  Jesus has come to save the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but when the wolf attacks, Jesus does not hit the wolf with a club.  He does not grab the wolf by the chin hairs and wrestle him to the ground.  Jesus offers himself to the wolf as a substitutionary sacrifice.  Jesus, the Good Shepherd, becomes the sacrificial Lamb of God and allows the wolf to savagely kill Him in order to protect the sheep.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 

            Now, this is not a good technique for a regular shepherd because once the wolf kills the shepherd then he would kill all the unprotected sheep. But it is the strategy for the Good Shepherd because as Jesus says in John 10:17–18 (ESV)  17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” 

            A hired hand does not care for the sheep, but just runs away at the first sign of danger.  Jesus is accusing the Pharisees and other Jewish leaders of being nothing more than hired hands that don’t care for the sheep.  The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.  And then He takes up His life again.  Christ is risen!  He is risen indeed!  Alleluia!

            Jesus rises from the dead and is still the Good Shepherd who now defends His flock with the power of the cross.  The wolf tries to attack one of Jesus’ sheep and the wolf gets smashed on the head with the cross of Christ.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He has undershepherds who work for the Good Shepherd to do the will of the Good Shepherd. 

In the darkness outside the High Priest’s house Peter denies Jesus three times around a charcoal fire.  After His resurrection, at the Sea of Galilee Jesus builds a charcoal fire and feeds the disciples and restores Peter.  John 21:15–17 (ESV)  15 When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” 16 He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17 He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. 

            Undershepherds of the Good Shepherd can never forget that they are also sheep in the flock of the Good Shepherd.  The undershepherds serve the sheep, tend the sheep, care for the sheep. They wash the sheep into the flock of the Good Shepherd with the waters of baptism, comfort the sheep with the eternal Word of God for the forgiveness of sins, and feed the sheep with the very Body and Blood of the Lamb of God who laid down His life for His sheep.  And not just the lost sheep of the house of Israel, but the lost sheep of the whole creation. 

The Good Shepherd laid down His life for you because He loves you.  You are Jesus’ beloved little lamb in the flock of the Good Shepherd.  One flock. One Shepherd. 

            Amen.             

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