Easter 3, April 30, 2017 (Ezekiel 34:11-16; 1 Peter 2:21-25; John 10:11-16)


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. (John 10)

When is the sheep in the most danger from the wolf?  When it has been scattered, when it is alone without the Shepherd.

The wolves know they cannot take on the Good Shepherd, so their primary goal is to scatter the sheep or draw them away from the Good Shepherd.

Warning against false preachers and teachers, Paul as he is getting ready to depart the Christian Church in Ephesus says, 29 I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; 30 and from among your own selves will arise men speaking twisted things, to draw away the disciples after them. (Acts 20).

The Christian has to know that being in the flock means there are forces that trying to drag and/or draw us away from the Good Shepherd.

Loneliness is one effect of these wolves.  They do their worst there.

They try to get you alone in way too many ways.  They don’t play fair.  They don’t always attack in the same way.

They can get you alone through grief and depression.

They can get you alone through your selfishness.  Always thinking and talking about yourself might quickly leave you to yourself.

They can get you alone through the anger of being sinned against, recently or a long time ago.  “I don’t want to be around you or anyone right now.”

They can get you alone through the shame of the sin you carry, recently or a long time ago.  “Who would want to be around me?”

They can get you alone by making you think you’re better than the other sheep and “Who needs this Good Shepherd, anyway?  I’m pretty strong.  How does He help me anyway?  I can do this on my own.”

They can get you alone by making you think you’re not good enough to be around the other sheep and “What Good Shepherd wants me in the flock?  I’ll just mess everything up.  I always do.  I always have.  I certainly did this week!”

They can get you alone by luring you away by what seems to be a more pleasurable life.

Or they can get you alone by using force and power.

The OT labels evil judges who abuse their power and care nothing for justice as well as evil rulers who shed blood and spread lies as wolves.

Regarding this last point, ask yourself if these abuses of force and power still exist.

Ask google later today how our Coptic Christian brothers and sisters in Egypt are faring in the Egyptian justice system after a church was bombed on Palm Sunday.

Or you can ask how some Christian florists and bakers who don’t way to celebrate same-sex marriage with their art are faring in our justice system here.

Ask if the truth and justice are what politics and authority are always about.  Perhaps these are things you know the answer to, even better than google does.

So many attacks.  So much loneliness.

One of reasons our Lord commands you to gather here often to hear His voice and receive the cup of His blood that runneth over with goodness and mercy all the days of your life is so that you might be reminded that you, in His flock, are being lured, scattered, and dragged away from Him.

Loneliness is a side effect.  Wolves prey on lonely and scattered sheep.  Sheep are no match for wolves.

Dear fellow sheep, you are no match for the wolves.

You and I are no match for sin, death and the devil.

You are no match for the abuse of authority in this world.

You cannot answer for your own sin and have too weak of an answer for others sins against you.  You are prone to not forgive very well.

When is the sheep the most in danger from the wolf?  When it is alone, away from the Good Shepherd.

So for the Christian, the great and wonderful comfort, the joy of being a helpless sheep is the truth that our help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth.

That our Jesus takes great joy in calling to us together with His voice today and always, “I am your Good Shepherd and yours and yours and yours.”

That the answer to the many temptations that end in loneliness is the voice that promises we can say,

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff,
they comfort me. (Psalm 23)

To be a sheep means the comfort the Good Shepherd being with us of being known by the Good Shepherd and knowing the Good Shepherd.

14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me (John 10).

You are known.  You are not alone.  You are baptized.

He who had the authority to lay down His life for you, had the authority to take His life back again on the third day, also had the authority to unite you to Himself in His death and resurrection in baptism.

You are known.  You are not alone.

He who knows the attacks of the wolf on your body and soul restores your soul again today and promises to restore your body on the last day.  He loves your soul.  He loves  your body.  He gives you His body to eat and blood to drink and tells you it’s good for your body and soul to life everlasting.  Depart in peace.

You are known.  You are not alone.

And you know.  You know His voice.  It’s the voice that leads you to confess this Psalm as one of the greatest comforts you have.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
    He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.
    He restores my soul.
He leads me in paths of righteousness
for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil,
for you are with me;
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.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord

If the most dangerous place for a sheep is alone then today you are reminded again the comfort of being gathered together under the Good Shepherd you know and who knows you.






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