The Sermon for Easter 4 April 22, 2018
Text: John 10:1-11 3 Year Series A 18:2065
Theme: Look Who’s My Shepherd!
In the beautiful country of Scotland, there was a shepherd who had a little daughter. Often he would take her with him when he led his sheep to green pastures or to fresh water in the valleys. The little girl loved to be with her father and his sheep. Most of all she liked to hear him call his sheep and see the sheep run to him.
When the girl became a young woman, she went away to work in a big city. At first she wrote her father every week, but soon the time between letters became longer and longer. Finally she stopped writing.
One day a young man from her village saw her in the city and spoke to her. She acted like she had never seen him before. Later, some other people told him that she often lived a riotous life, drinking, and living with men who weren’t married to her.
When the young man returned home, he told the shepherd what he had heard about his daughter. At once the shepherd went to the city to look for her. Day after day he walked up and down the streets of the big city, hoping to find her, but to no avail.
Then he remembered how his little girl used to listen to him as he called his sheep by name. So he went through the streets of the city again, giving his shepherd’s call. When the daughter heard his voice, she knew at once who it was. She ran out to the street to find him. When they met, he took her into his arms and asked her to go back home with him. Because she saw how much he loved her, she went.
I have a shepherd like that. His name is Jesus. I know His voice. It’s a forgiving, inviting voice, which I long to hear and follow. He’s the One who…
I. …calls me by name.
I don’t know how He knows it; I don’t know why He would do it. There are so many people in this world, a lot who are more important and nicer than I am. Why should He know me? Why should He call me? I have often gone away from Him. It’s like a story He told.
Once there was a man who had 100 sheep. One evening He counted them as they went into the gate. Only 99 were there! One was missing! It must not have followed the shepherd home and was lost in the dark woods. At once the man closed the gate and left the flock under the watchful eye of a guard. He must find the lost lamb
before some wolf or lion would get it.
The shepherd hurried to the places where the sheep had been that day; he called it by name. For a while the shepherd heard nothing. Again and again he called. At last he heard weak bleating: “Baaa.” Before long he found it, all tangled up in some bushes. He pulled it out, but it couldn’t walk; it had hurt its leg. So he carried it home on his shoulders. “Look,” he called to others as he came back. “I found my sheep which was lost. Come, and rejoice with me!”
I’ve been that sheep. Often we are all like a little lost lamb. When we sin, we go down a wrong path away from God. Sometimes I think that I can even lose Him in the crowd of people that make up this world. “He’ll never see me. He’ll never know what I’ve done or where I’ve gone. How could He possibly keep track of me among the 7 billion people that inhabit this earth?” So I go. And it always ends for me the same way – lost, in trouble, taken advantage of, swallowed up by those who would abuse me – all under the glee-filled eyes of Satan who prowls around seeking for ways to devour my soul. After what I have done and where I have gone, why should the Savior care?
Because He knows me! He knows my weakness; He knows my needs; He knows how foolish I can be; and He knows there is only one who can help – Himself, for there is no other name under heaven whereby we can be saved! “I lay down my life for the sheep,” He says. “I have redeemed you, I have called you by name, and you are mine, bought with the price of my own blood.”
Look Who’s My Shepherd! The Savior, the only one who could help me in this! He shed His own blood for me. So, I am precious to Him; all are precious to Him for He gave His life for a world of sinners who were going astray. I don’t see why He did it, after all that we have done against Him. But that is my Shepherd, merciful, kind, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness, forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin for His name’s sake.
Yes, He knows us. In love, He knows us as no one else ever could. And His love will not allow Him to remain passive or inactive. He is not like the thief or the robber who wants to harm me. Such a one doesn’t know me, doesn’t care for me, and only wants to take advantage of me. No, the Good Shepherd calls me by name and leads me out. See how…
II. …He goes ahead of me.
He doesn’t push me; He doesn’t drag me; He doesn’t poke me
along or beat me. He simply calls and goes ahead of me. Why does He lead from the front and not direct me from behind?
The Psalmist says, “The Lord is my Shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters; He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.” He leads me; He goes ahead of me; He blazes the trail for me to follow. It all has to do with His care.
You see, sheep can’t find their way on their own. They need pastureland to feed on; they need water to drink. But not all pastures and rivers are the same. Some pastures are brown with dried up grass and little nourishment. My Shepherd goes ahead of me to lead me to those pastures that are like the fresh, tender grass of springtime. In them I can “lie down;” I can stretch out in complete relaxation.
He goes ahead of me and leads me beside quiet waters. No good shepherd would lead his sheep with their heavy wool to swiftly flowing currents that would sweep them away. See what rest and care and contentment the Shepherd wants His sheep to have.
I live in a world that runs around, often in circles. It chases that which it does not know and is not content when it catches it. I get tired just watching. Sad to say, more often I weary myself out too because I join in its mad chase after things that in the end will perish.
That world also feeds on things and teachings about God that are false and lead to death. It has shepherds, bad ones, that don’t teach the right and only way to salvation before God. But My Shepherd is not like that. He is the only Good One for only He has the authority to lay down His life and to take it up again for my sake. No other person can do that. He wants to lead and then feed me on that which lasts forever, His Word. All things else wither and fade, but the Word of the Lord stands forever, and its blessings are eternal. My Shepherd doesn’t want me to miss out. So He calls me by name, then goes ahead of me to guide me.
As He goes He promises: “I will give my angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways.” “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you and they shall not sweep you away.” Look At My Shepherd!
III. What a life He gives me!
In contrast to the pillage and death that are wreaked by the robber who comes “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy,” my Shepherd says, “I am come that they may have life and have it abundantly,” literally, “that they may have life, and have a surplus of it.”
A surplus of life! What a thought! I am not sure I grasp what it all means. A surplus is excess; it is extra; it is additional; it is more than can ever be used; it is an over abundance; it’s more than just a full cup; it’s a cup that runneth over. That’s what my Shepherd gives me – a surplus of life. What can it possibly mean? Though I am not completely sure, yet I know it is exactly what Christians have.
A surplus of life is more than just living and breathing and eating and moving about on this planet. It is a fullness life “which is hidden with Christ in God” (Col.3:3). And what a life it is!
It is a life of full assurance of pardon for all my sins; a life of peace with God, a peace that passes all understanding; a life of love and hope and “joy in the Holy Spirit”; a life of strength and power and victory “through Christ who strengthens me”; a life of willing and happy service to God and to others, a service not of constraint or force, but of love and desire to help. And one day when He comes again, it will be a life that will appear with Him in glory and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
How wonderful that forever home will be! There I’ll be freed from all sin and temptation, all trouble and sorrow, all false teaching and attempts of those who seek to rob me of my soul. All such things seek to chip away at my heart now. But on that day when He returns, my body will rise to rejoin my soul in glorious form. And in heaven I’ll be in wonderful company. I can hardly wait to sit down with people like Paul and Peter and King David, who was a shepherd boy himself. They only gloried in the cross of Christ. And I think about my first glimpse of Jesus, who gave His life for me. Heaven isn’t a vacation place; it is my eternal home where I will live with God and He with me forever. What a life He gives! A surplus of life from my Shepherd! Look Who He is! He is the Lord Jesus; He is my Savior.
God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.