Easter 4: Misericordia Domini; Good Shepherd Sunday May 8, 2022
Text: Revelation 7:9-17 CW-22 3 Year Series C 22:2323
Theme: Look at the Church Above.
At the funeral service of a Christian, I sometimes tell the custom of the ancient church that is both beautiful and meaningful for believers who are left behind. We are told that in days gone by, when a member of a congregation passed from this present existence, his name was not removed from the membership roll. Instead, following his name, a notation was added: “Transferred to the Church above.”
So sure were those early Christians of the unity of the Church below and the Church above that death was merely a transfer, a changing over, a moving from one congregation of saints to another.
What a beautiful thought! But it’s more than a thought – it’s true, as true as any other truth that God has given us in His Holy Word. There is no reason that you and I should not be just as sure of this glorious fact as were the believers of an earlier age.
Our loved ones who have departed this life, trusting in Christ as their Savior, are still members of Christ’s Church, of which He is the Head. There is but one Church, and we are still united in that “mystic sweet communion” which binds together all those who belong to Him. Paul writes, “If we live, we live to the Lord and if we die, we die to the Lord, so whether we live or we die, we are the Lord’s. For this reason, He died, rose, and lived, to be the Lord of both the dead and the living” (Ro.14:8f).
As much as Christ is our living Savior, so He is still the living Lord of our departed loved ones in the faith. They are still members of His Church, even as we are. But they are members of the Church Triumphant as one day we too, in faith, shall be upon departing this life. This is partly what John means when he started this section by saying, “After these things (he means the life of God’s people, the Church, here in this world, vv.1-8), I saw, and look! A great multitude!” Look at the Church Above.
I. Look how many! They were made up of a number “that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing in front of the throne and the Lamb.”
What’s the biggest crowd of which you’ve been a part? Maybe a
Cardinal baseball game, a Mizzou football game, a concert, a political rally? Probably the biggest crowd of which I was ever a part was at a Rose Bowl game back in 1981 in Pasadena, CA. There were over 103,000 people there. That’s a lot of people. I could never have counted them; but somebody did.
The crowd John saw was much, much bigger. So big that no one could begin to count them. It’s as if John were saying, “Look how many there are. You can’t count them all.”
Doesn’t that remind you of God’s promise to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that their descendants would be “innumerable as the stars in the sky, like the grains of sand on the seashore”? God was not just talking about physical descendants; He was talking about spiritual descendants, people who would be saved by faith in the coming Savior. God says, “The promise is by faith, so that it may be according to grace and may be guaranteed to all of Abraham’s descendants…to the one who has the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all” who believe in Christ (Ro.4:16f).
Think of all the believers that lived in the past, throughout the Old and New Testament times – and all believers from the time that John saw this vision until now – and all believers that are yet to be born in the years that lie ahead before Jesus returns. Look how many!
If John had recorded the names, you would read of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Malachi, and all Old Testament believers. You would read of John’s fellow apostles like Peter, Paul, James and the rest. And you would read of all our faithful Christian friends and those whom we have never met here in this world – all who cling in faith to Jesus as the Savior.
You would read of children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren yet unborn. You would read of black and white, red and yellow, people of every type of skin tone and style of speech. So many that no one could count them all. And neither could you. Yet Jesus, the Good Shepherd, knows them all by name (Jn.10:27) and treats them all the same. He gives them the white robes of His righteousness for they trust only in Him for salvation from sin. Look at the Church Above. Look how many are in it. If you believe in Jesus as the Savior, your face is among them.
II. Now, Look where they stand. They stand united, unharmed before God’s throne.
God’s throne symbolizes His great power and His gracious rule over all things. He, the almighty and faithful God with whom nothing is impossible; He is the God of salvation. Everything is under His control. For those who look to Him, that throne, His presence, symbolizes the place where no harm can ever touch His people again.
Before Jesus ascended to heaven after His resurrection, He declared that “all power in heaven and on earth had been given to Him.” The Father sitting on the throne bestows it, and Jesus wields it in the eternal interest of His people. Look where they stand, before the throne where He is in total control over all things for them.
Sometimes, to us who are still here on earth, it doesn’t seem like He is in control. Was Jesus in control when Russia, for no reason, invaded Ukraine? Is Jesus in control when sickness overcomes and strikes a person down? Will Jesus be in control if we should ever enter a nuclear holocaust? Often it seems like He’s not in control. If He were, why do such things happen? Why do hardships come to all?
We can’t always give the specific reason for every hardship that comes our way. Too often the mystery of His will and His workings escape us. But isn’t it a bit presumptuous on our part to judge the wisdom and ways of the One who sits on the throne above?
We do well to remember that all we are and have are God’s doing. We could not exist for one second without Him. And the many sorrows and troubles we go through in life here are evident of that fact that we could not survive without Him. Besides, it is not He who caused this world to fall into such disarray. It was we in our sin who caused it and the troubles that enter because of it. Such trials and difficulties are inescapable on earth and keep us mindful of our need to rely upon Him for every need of body and soul. He will use all things to keep our eyes on Him and the narrow way that leads to everlasting life. Without Him we would perish.
But He is on the throne, making sure that these things won’t harm us eternally. We’re His sheep. “Nothing can pluck us from His hands” (Jn.10: 28). Look at the Church Above. Those who are there are a sure sign of that promise. They made it through and now look where they stand, before God’s throne. His presence is ever with them; His tabernacle spread over them. They are with Him evermore.
III. Look at their joy.
“Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.”
What must it be like to never again any kind of setback – of body or of spirit? To feel like you never lose anything but only gain blessings upon blessing, one after another? That sounds great! But it’s not how life works here on earth. “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of heaven.” People get sick, people lose jobs, they lose homes, they get cancer, and in the end all die. Life doesn’t work perfectly here on earth, does it?
But it does in heaven. Look at the joy on the faces of the crowd dressed in white that stands before the throne. There God’s people experience nothing but victory, His victory forever. That can be hard to wrap our minds around because it’s not our reality in the present. But it is there, in the Church above.
But the biggest reason for their joy is this: “The Lamb at the center of the throne is their shepherd; He leads them to springs of living water. And God wipes away every tear from their eyes.”
It’s the One who was slaughtered for sin! It’s Christ Jesus! He’s the cause of their joy! The Lamb, yet also the Shepherd that He always is, is there to guide and protect them forever. Never again will they have to face any kind of loss or hurt caused by sin. Such is the existence of those who dwell in the Church above.
So why is this picture given to us? That we might find comfort knowing where our loved ones in Christ now dwell? Yes! But more.
A cartoon appearing in a daily newspaper, showed a crowd of people walking along a busy street in a major city. Each person had his head slanted downward, at the same angle, eyes fastened on the ground. Beneath the picture appeared the caption, “Almost no one looks up anymore.”
How true when you consider the majority of people in our day, in our country. So concerned about all the chaos in the world or all the luxuries that could be had, most have lost the capacity to “look up,” to see where it all ends for those who cling in faith to Christ Jesus. Those who have gone before us, who have been transferred to the Church Triumphant already enjoy His tent spread over them. And someday when the clocks of heaven strike the hour of our own departure here, we shall worship with them all, where time will never end, together again, before God’s throne. But without the upward look to the Lamb that was slain who is our Shepherd, it will never be.
So, look up to Him in faith. Look to the sky for His return, and know that the joy, the complete joy of His victory over sin, death, and the devil awaits in the Church above. “Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” God grant it to us in faith for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Zion Lutheran Church of Springfield
(A member congregation of the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod)
4717 S Farm Rd 135 (Golden Avenue)
Church phone: 417.887.0886 Pastor’s cell phone: 417.693.3244
You can also find us on Facebook
The Fourth Sunday of Easter: Misericordia Domini “Good Shepherd Sunday” May 8, 2022
“The earth is full of the goodness of the LORD.” Psalm 33:5
F o r O u r V i s i t o r s
The family of Zion welcomes you as we worship the Lord today. We encourage children to worship with us. However, if you need to leave with your child, there is a nursery room to the right as you exit the sanctuary. The rest rooms are located in the hallway between the sanctuary and the fellowship hall. Visitors, please sign our guest book to the right, just outside the sanctuary. We’re glad that you are here and pray that through our worship the Lord grants you peace.
U p o n E n t e r i n g G o d’ s H o u s e
“The LORD is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters; He restoreth my soul. Goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life.” (Psalm 23).
W h a t T h i s S u n d a y i s A b o u t
The Lord Is My Shepherd. Of all the titles that the Savior claims for Himself, “The Good Shepherd” is perhaps the dearest. It comforts Christians in distress, it emboldens them in prayer, and it motivates them to witness to the grace that they have found in Him.
From the earliest times of the New Testament era, the Church has portrayed these wondrous truths of the Gospel shortly after Easter. Knowing that the risen Savior is such a Good Shepherd, comforts us and moves us to follow Him. We trust His guidance in life and eagerly wait to see those things which lie ahead when we “dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” He is the Good Shepherd who cares for all our needs.
To that end we pray: O Lord Jesus Christ, You are the Good Shepherd who laid down Your life for the sheep. Lead us now to the still waters of Your life-giving Word that we may abide in Your Father’s house forevermore; for Your name’s sake. Amen.
– T h e W o r d o f G o d f o r T o d a y –
The First Lesson: Acts 13:15,16,26-33
On his first missionary journey, the Apostle Paul preached an excellent summary of the Savior’s redeeming work: He lived, died, and rose again, fulfilling God’s promises. Through such preaching others are led to believe in Him as the Good Shepherd.
The Epistle Lesson: Revelation 7:9-17
Through the eyes of the Apostle John, the Lord gives us a peak into heaven. There we see a great host dressed in white praising the Lamb that was slain. He shed His blood and cleansed them of their sin. Now He is their Shepherd who guides them to eternal joys with Him above.
The Gospel Lesson: John 10:22-30
The Good Shepherd speaks words of comfort and hope as He assures His sheep who believe in Him that He knows them. They hear His voice; they follow Him; nothing can harm them. Their eternal protection lies in the hands of God.
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The Organist: Jane Rips (is not with us today) The Preacher: Pastor Edwin Lehmann
Fulfilled Words and Works
Jesus tells you in His Word that He cares for you dearly. He would do anything for you. How do you know you can trust Him? Plenty of people say that in the world, but fail to carry it out when the time comes. Jesus followed up His words with works. He said He would suffer, die, and rise again for you, and He did. He fulfills His promises. His words are followed by His works. He illustrated that point in a striking metaphor, The Good Shepherd. Every word our Good Shepherd speaks is trustworthy and true.
Point to Ponder: “Let Him see and care where my soul will stay. He has so faithfully provided for me, even sacrificing His life in order to redeem my soul. My ears hang on the voice and word of my Shepherd. Praise to Him throughout eternity, to the one true and faithful Shepherd and Bishop of all souls that believe in Him!” — Martin Luther on “The Good Shepherd Knows How to Care for Me”
Outline of Our Worship
Opening Thoughts on the Service
Daily Devotions pages 235-247
The Office of “Lauds” – Dawn pages 238-239
Opening Hymn: #778
The Ministry of the Word
Hymn Response: #551
Sermon: Revelation 7:9-17 Look at the Church Above!
Our Response to the Word
“The Song of Zechariah” page 238
The Close of Service
The Closing Hymn: #890
The Fourth Sunday of Easter – Series C
First Lesson: Acts 13:15,16,26-33 – Paul at Antioch in Pisidia
15After the reading of the Law and the Prophets, the leaders of the synagogue sent a message to them, saying, “Gentlemen, brothers, if you have a word of encouragement for the people, say it.” 16Then Paul stood up, motioned with his hand, and said, 26“Gentlemen, brothers, sons of Abraham’s family, and those among you who fear God, this message of salvation has been sent to you. 27The people of Jerusalem and their rulers did not recognize him, and by condemning him they fulfilled the statements of the prophets that are read every Sabbath. 28Though they found no grounds for a death sentence, they asked Pilate to have him executed. 29When they carried out everything that was written about him, they took him down from the cross and laid him in a tomb. 30But God raised him from the dead, 31and for many days he was seen by those who had come up with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. These same individuals are now his witnesses to the people. 32“We are preaching to you the good news about the promise that was made to our fathers. 33God has fulfilled this promise for us, their children, by raising up Jesus. As it is also written in the second Psalm:
‘You are my Son. Today I have begotten you.’
34“That God would raise him from the dead never again to be subject to decay, God said in this way:
‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’
35“Therefore he also says in another place:
‘You will not let your Holy One see decay.’
36“For David, after he had served God’s purpose in his own generation, fell asleep, was laid to rest with his fathers, and saw decay. 37But the One God raised did not see decay.
38“So, gentlemen, brothers, let it be known to you that through this Jesus forgiveness of sins is being proclaimed to you, also forgiveness from everything from which you could not be justified through the law of Moses. 39In this Jesus, everyone who believes is justified.”
Epistle Lesson: Revelation 7:9-17 – In Heaven; the Lamb Is the Shepherd
9After these things I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing in front of the throne and of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and with palm branches in their hands. 10They called out with a loud voice and said:
“Salvation comes from our God, who sits on the throne, and from the Lamb.”
11All the angels stood around the throne, the elders, and the four living creatures. They fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12saying:
“Amen. Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and might belong to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
13One of the elders spoke to me and said, “These people dressed in white robes, who are they and where did they come from?”
And I answered him, “Sir, you know.”
14And he said to me:
“These are the ones who are coming out of the great tribulation.
They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15Because of this they are in front of the throne of God,
and they serve him day and night in his temple.
He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.
16They will never be hungry or thirsty ever again.
The sun will never beat upon them, nor will any scorching heat,
17for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd.
He will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Gospel Lesson: John 10:22-30 – The Shepherd and His Sheep
22Then the Festival of Dedication took place in Jerusalem. It was winter, 23and Jesus was walking in the temple area in Solomon’s Colonnade.
24So the Jews gathered around Jesus, asking, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
25Jesus answered them, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I am doing in my Father’s name testify about me. 26But you do not believe, because you are not my sheep, as I said to you. 27My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. 28I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. 29My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all. No one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30I and the Father are one.”
The Holy Bible, Evangelical Heritage Version® (EHV®) copyright © 2019 The Wartburg Project.
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Divine Worship Service
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Joint Council Meeting
Divine Worship Service with Holy Communion
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Fellowship & Bible Study
A Brief Bible Study on God’s Word for Today
Imagine that everyone on earth was a needle: there are well over six billion needles in a huge pile. How can God keep them all straight? How can God keep His eye on you in particular, and hear your prayers? He has no trouble at all—and not only because He is Almighty. Jesus is your Good Shepherd. He knows you as well as He knows the Father, and as the Father knows you. That’s why He laid down his life for you.
The Gospel Lesson: John 10:22-30 (answers are found on the back side)
- What two testimonies should have convinced Jews of Jesus’ day that He really is the Son of God?
- What great comfort does Jesus give to people who, like sheep, are prone to wander?
Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Those We Remember In Our Prayers: Greg Miller; Lou Schulz; William & Laurie Moon; Pauline Jaeger; Dave Ballou; John Workentine; Kirsten Jaster (Laurie Moon’s sister, long term covid); Lois Wiese; Greg Pierson (the Long’s son-in-law); Libya, Jodi Milam’s granddaughter, diagnosed with anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis, an autoimmune disease of the brain; Elizabeth Lisenby, looking in the near future at shoulder surgery; Barbara Long, following hospitalization.
Forward in Christ’s next edition for May has arrived. You may find copies on the credenza in the narthex. Also, the next edition of Meditations’ devotions, beginning at the end of May, will be found there.
Sunday, June 5 – Pentecost Sunday and Confirmation Sunday for Emily Mabra
Sunday, June 5-Tuesdsay, June 7 – WELS/ELS Family Camp at Heit’s Point
Monday, June 6-Thursday, June 9 – WELS Minnesota District Biennial Convention at MLC, New Ulm
The Week in Review
Last Sunday Worship: 27; Bible Class: 14; Midweek Bible Class: 2; Offering: $2,124; Mickelson Memorial: $575.
Next Sunday’s Lessons:
Easter 5: Acts 11:1-18; Revelation 21:1-6; John 13:31-35 (CW -21, Series C)
Answers to Today’s Gospel Lesson Brief Study:
- a) Jesus’ repeated statements about His relationship with the Father and b) His miracles both testify that Jesus is the Son of God.
- Jesus assures us that no one can snatch us out of His hand. He will keep us trusting in Him as we keep hearing His voice, the voice of our Shepherd.
This week I am praying for……