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Fourth Sunday of Easter (no audio this week)

May 12, 2019 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Easter

Passage: John 10:22–10:30

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†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: John: 10:22-30
Date: May 12th, 2019; Easter 4; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • Today, this Fourth Sunday of Easter, is traditionally known as “Good Shepherd” Sunday.
  • Each year, the Gospel readings for this Sunday come from the tenth chapter of St. John’s Gospel where he records when Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd.
  • Luther commented that, “In this single word ‘shepherd’ there are gathered together in one almost all the good and comforting things that we praise in God” (AE 12:152).
  • And this is true - it is very good and comforting that Jesus describes our relationship with him as a shepherd’s relationship with his sheep.
  • Shepherds guide, protect, and care-for their sheep - and Jesus does the same for us.
  • But, even more - our Good Shepherd Jesus, laid down his life for us that we may have life - and have it abundantly.
  • In our Gospel text for this morning, Jesus speaks about his sheep hearing his voice. 
  • In response to the Jews who continued to doubt that he is the promised Messiah, Jesus said, “I told you, and you do not believe.  The works that I do in my father’s name bear witness about me, but you do not believe because you are not part of my flock.  My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
  • Our Lord tells us that his sheep hear his voice - and that includes all of us.
  • But it isn’t always easy to hear and listen for his voice, is it?  
  • Even as the Shepherd’s sheep, we hear a lot of other noises that distract us, lead us astray, and put us in harm’s way.
  • Our own sinful nature screams out and tries to drown out the voice of Jesus.
  • Our Lord tells us to be humble and to be last - but our sinful nature tells us to be first and to receive great honour and power.
  • Jesus tells us that we are to be charitable and help the needy - but our sinful nature screams out to get more and more for ourselves.
  • Jesus tells us that we are not to lay up treasures on earth, but to lay up treasures in heaven - but our sinful nature shouts out to satisfy our desires right now – like there is no heaven to come.
  • Our Lord tells us that we are to love our neighbour as ourselves - but our sinful nature yells out that we should just look out for our interests.
  • Our Lord’s voice speaks to us and our sinful nature speaks to us.
  • What do we listen to and follow?
  • And what about the voice of the world around us?
  • The voice that tells us that there is no God.
  • The voice that tells us that life is nothing but the survival of the fittest – destroy or be destroyed.
  • The voice that tells us that true success and happiness is only found in wealth and fame and power.
  • The voice that tells us that God’s will for our lives only holds us back – that we should be able to do whatever we want?
  • What do we hear?
  • “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” 
  • Jesus not only tells us that we, his sheep, hear his voice - he also tells us that he knows us.
  • Just think about that.  God knows you.
  • And this is different than knowing a friend or even a family member.
  • Sure, we might share with our closest friends and family members some secrets, but we don’t share everything, do we?
  • We would be ashamed if they knew everything.
  • We would all be shocked and horrified if we knew each other’s deepest and darkest secrets.  If we knew each other’s horrible sins.
  • But God knows you in this way.  He knows everything about you.  There is no sin that you can hide from him.
  • He knows how often you allow his voice to be drowned out.
  • God knows us - because we are his sheep. 
  • Yes, he knows about our shame, our failings, our sin.
  • But he still says that we are his sheep.  
  • He still says that we are his sheep in spite of knowing all of these things about us.
  • We are his sheep because even our most horrible sins have been forgiven.
  • Jesus died on the cross knowing you and everything that you have done.
  • And the fact that he knows all of your sins, even those dark ones, means that they have all been forgiven.
  • Our sins are forgiven and we are his sheep - not because of anything we have done - but because we hear the voice of our loving and merciful Good Shepherd and follow him.
  • We hear his voice and trust in the forgiveness and salvation that he has promised to us - no matter what we might be facing in this life.
  • Knowing us, knowing the many difficulties we face in our lives, our Good Shepherd speaks to us and we hear his voice.
  • Christ speaks to us through his Word.
  • We hear in Psalm 119 that, “[His] Word is a lamp to [our] feet and a light to [our] path”
  • Our Good Shepherd speaks to us comfort, peace, and blessing through his Word.
  • We hear in Psalm 55, “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.”
  • Knowing us, knowing the guilt, shame, and weight of our sin – Christ speaks to us and we hear his voice of forgiveness.  
  • We hear in Psalm 103, “…as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.”
  • Knowing us, knowing the fear we have over death - Christ speaks to us and we hear his promise in John chapter 11, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die”.
  • In our Baptism, our Good Shepherd makes us part of his flock and he promises to give us eternal life and that we will never perish and that no one will be able to steal us from his hand.  
  • We hear in Mark chapter 16, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved” and from Titus chapter 3, “He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out generously through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life”.  
  • The Good Shepherd gives us his true body and blood through which he says, “Your sins are forgiven, go in peace.”
  • We hear in Matthew chapter 26, “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured our for many for the forgiveness of sins’.
  • My brothers and sisters in Christ - our Good Shepherd cares for, guides, and feeds you.  
  • He laid down his life for you and leads you to life everlasting. 
  • Listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd.   He has the words of eternal life.  Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

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