Tag: John 10:11-18

Joining the Good Shepherd in His Mission 22/04/2108 Dr Steen Olsen

Joining the Good Shepherd In his mission  – St Petri Nuriootpa  22/04/2018
John 10:11-18 (v16)

11“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. 14I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.

16I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

17For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. 18No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

My wife Ruth grew up on a sheep-farm in the Western District of Victoria.  Unfortunately, that does not help us much in understanding our text.

In Jesus’ time a flock of sheep might be a dozen or two;

today a flock is hundreds if not thousands

In Jesus’ time sheep were led; today they are chased, usually by dogs

In Jesus’ time a shepherd knew each sheep by name

He called their names and they followed him;

If two flocks meet and intermingle it is no big deal – no overtime…

Today sheep are amongst God’s silliest creatures, they just run and if two mobs are droved into each other – overtime big time…

In Jesus’ time shepherds were mostly hirelings, famous for their dishonesty who often lied and claimed wild animals had taken sheep they sold/ate

Today there are not a lot of wild animals on most farms at least not since the dog-fence was built

In Jesus’ day a ‘shepherd’ was also a title for the kings – good and bad

Today we might use the term for pastors or those who care for others it is not a term we would use for our politicians + other leaders

We need to keep all those things in mind when we hear Jesus say,

“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

And then, Jesus invites us to join him in his mission to bring other sheep into his flock, so he can also be their good shepherd.

It is on this invitation that we will focus briefly this morning but first we need to spend a little time on what it means

to have Jesus as our Good Shepherd

1)  We have a good shepherd who lays down his life for us  unless we understand that, we won’t ‘get’ what Jesus has done for us

Unlike Luther, we then won’t have the ‘Aha!’ experience that changes our lives forever and makes us new people

So let’s spend a little time reflecting on what our good shepherd has done for us

 

2)  Jesus says, I’m the good shepherd who lays down his life for sheep

A sheep is not worth as much as a shepherd – that is obvious

If the lion or the bear attacks, better sacrifice a sheep than lose a shepherd – even a hireling is a human being

And the good shepherd / Son of God is obviously worth much more than one of us silly creatures that he made – that is also obvious

The Muslims are surely right when they say it is offensive to suggest that God himself would die for the likes of us

Yet that is the foolishness of the gospel that we believe + bring to others

As Paul says in the first chapter of 1 Corinthians:

     …we proclaim Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.

Maybe we should celebrate Easter on April Fool’s Day every year!

 

3)  You can’t skip Maundy Thursday and Good Friday to get to Easter Sunday

  • Our God is not safe – he is a fierce judge whose law condemns us
  • Our attempts to earn his favour dissolve in the fire of his wrath

Imagine for a moment that I could replay the moments of your life that you are most ashamed of – up there on the big screen

in glorious high definition and with booming high fidelity sound  What do you think? Look around. How far away is the nearest door?

But with God there is nowhere to hide – for big things or small.  He hears your secret thoughts! He sees the worst you have done!

What scenes played in your mind just now? What makes you cringe?

Jesus knows you are guilty! He knows you don’t deserve any grace  – and knowing that he went to the cross, suffered + died – just for you and if you had been the only person on earth who needed forgiving he still would have done it – just for you!

Because Jesus is the good shepherd who laid down his life for you it’s done and dusted. You are forgiven. The video has been erased.

No back-up copies have been kept. It is gone forever! You don’t have to do anything to pay for it. Payment has been made!

Just enjoy it!

4)  You don’t need to impress to get in the good shepherd’s good books

  • It’s about faith – that is trust in the promises of God which is itself a gift of God created in us at baptism, nurtured as we dwell in the Word and come to the table
  • Faith simply receives the gift – it doesn’t earn it or create it.  There is nothing you can do to make God love you more – or less
  • You don’t earn God’s blessing by the things you do.  God’s favour already rests on you – because of Jesus
  • That’s what it means to have a good shepherd

 

5)  Do your family, friends and workmates need this good shepherd?

When Jesus originally said, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold” he was talking about all the people of the world who were not Jews

His good news was not just for the Jewish people.  Today we might take that as a reference to those who do not yet know Jesus

The good news is not just for those already in the church.  Jesus has other sheep in Nuriootpa and the Barossa who are not yet in the sheepfold.  They will listen to his voice and he will bring them into his flock

6)  Jesus has a mission to the people of this community

He invites us to join him in his mission.  The good shepherd doesn’t send us out to create our own mission, he invites us to join him in his mission

That is important because it means that it doesn’t depend on us. We are not running the show.  We are just on the team doing our bit, speaking of what we know.

Secondly, we have seen how Jesus does mission.  He hangs out with all the wrong people.  Apparently, he is not afraid he will be tainted.

The words, “Neither do I condemn you” ring in one adulterer’s ears.  He invites himself to dinner at the hated tax collector’s house

  • He restores Peter after his betrayal
  • He cleanses lepers, heals a mother-in-law, and raises the dead
  • all without insisting that they clean up their act first

At the heart of it all is his suffering, death and resurrection and the forgiveness that he brings without condition because he is the Good Shepherd for all people, not just us.

7)  The good news is not a moral improvement program

It is not a clean up and reform society package.

It is not just alleviating suffering and caring for the disadvantaged though all those may be by-products of people coming to faith

It’s not about telling other people what to do whether your pet project involves law and order, same sex marriage, abortion and euthanasia

or gay rights, refugees, racism, poverty and the environment

– now I have offended everyone equally, at least I hope so!

My point is that none of these things is the good news, the gospel.  That doesn’t mean that they are unimportant, or that we shouldn’t do them.  But they are not the reason why we are here as the church on earth

 

Our first reading from Acts 4 shows this clearly  a crippled beggar is healed and Peter and John are asked

by what name was this done.  They respond “by the name of Jesus of Nazareth” and then add

“There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

 

The second reading from 1 John 3 says that God’s command is

“that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another.”

 

  • We are here because the Good Shepherd has other sheep
  • We are not just to make the world a better place or to protect God’s honour
  • We are not just to make sure we look after Christians until they get to heaven
  • We are here because Jesus our good shepherd suffered, died and rose again for us and for those who do not yet know him

We are his forgiven flock, set free from our sins so that we might bring Jesus and his good news to the people around us

Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

And again, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.”

Amen.

Pastor Steen Olsen

steen.olsen@lca.org.au

Good Shepherd love

Lay Sermon, Easter 4B

Sunday April 29, 2012

Combined Service, St Petri

 John 10:11-18

Good Shepherd love

   11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to 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 authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”

Prayer:           Lord, may the words of my mouth and the meditation of our hearts be acceptable in your sight, our Rock and Good Shepherd. Amen

Friends, if there is one beautiful image that Jesus paints of himself, it is this one of him being a good shepherd we can trust. He says he is the leader and guide for life that tends us carefully and wisely through times of drought and times of abundance. It is a wonderful picture that Jesus, our Good Shepherd paints of himself and his deep concern for us.

It’s interesting that many biblical scholars have pointed to the tell-tale concerns that the Apostle John seems to have had when writing his gospel. As John, bears witness in words he speaks about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, there seems to have been a major concern for John regarding the community in which he ministered as God’s shepherd, or ‘pastor’, in the Latin language. The problem was something to do with love – or a decided lack of love as far as John was concerned.

Self-preservation, Self-improvement.

The opposite of self-giving, servant kind of love of which John so often speaks in his letters – the kind of love he knew in Jesus of Nazareth the Messiah, seems to be running short through John’s community. As John sees it, the community was not the community of love it was called to be (15:1-17). People were not dedicated to one another with heart and soul, mind and strength. Instead, they were dedicated to self-preservation through self-improvement. They seemed to be thinking that this was the way God’s flock.

When the going got tough they deserted one another like the “hired hand” Jesus speaks of in our text (10:12). What resulted was the demise of community: a people more interested in making comparisons than giving acceptance, a people more dedicated to competition and self-preservation through self-improvement than to mutual care (13:12-17).

Tuned in to the wrong “voice.”

According to John, this approach to living is a reflection of the “voice” the people are listening to. As we know, there are many voices clamoring for our attention on a daily basis, and like us, John’s people seem to have succumbed to tuning out the voice of the Good Shepherd and tuning in the voice of another, the voice of expectations, keeping the right standards, being the right kind of people.

When John talks about listening to a voice he means being captivated by the voice, taking it to heart and believing in it firmly. This begs the questions: What do we listen to? What are we captivated by and what or whose word do we really believe in when we hear it?

John knows for sure that not all voices are the same and that many are down right destructive of faith and love. There are voices that are only like hired hands who have no real care for each person – but only want what they can get out of it, and only use you to meet their own self-driven ends.

“Scattered” — Destruction of the Flock

And here is the trouble with which we are confronted today. The end result of going the self-preservation way where we truly believe that the best of life is to be found in improving our selves and our property is that we become deaf to the only voice that really gives life and creates love – true self-giving, mutual respect and service kind of love, which binds us together in love.

The end result of tuning into the old voices of self-improvement and looking after number one actually scatters the flock. That is John’s experience. Is it ours too? As a community of faith in Jesus the Good Shepherds are we more into self-preservation like hired hands who are not really committed to serving each other? This is the challenge from the Good Shepherd today.

Where there is no voice of the Good Shepherd there is no gathering of the flock, no community, and only an aimless wandering and a façade at surface level.

Jesus himself says that where there is no flock gathered, no voice heard, there is no feeding, no protection, no “abundant life,” no salvation (10:9-10, 26). The old motto “there is no salvation outside the Church” is what Jesus seems to be driving at, if by “Church” we do not mean a mere institution, but the “flock of God,” wherever and whenever we gather.

Good Shepherding.

Praise the Good Shepherd that there is a different way – a way back to love and true community of loving relationships. The Good Shepherd came among his scattered sheep, once and for all, to gather them.

What makes him “good” is that he is not intimidated by the other voices. He is not phased by the charge of even “blasphemy” and threats of “stoning” (10:31-33) that came his way — but is willing (10:18) to lay down his life for his sheep (10:11, 15, 17, 18).

The cross, which his opponents thought would silence his voice, was actually his PA System! We now know him unmistakably, loud and clear as our shepherd, and we know his love first-hand.

What’s more, in his resurrection we know him as the One who is “loved by the Father” (10:17) and that his act of “laying down his life for the sheep” was not merely his idea but the will of the Father. With the Father’s backing he has real authority — real power! He has the authority and the power to lay down and take up his life (10:18) and to give it in great abundance to his sheep (10:10).

Knowing and Following.

We are captivated by his voice. We follow his voice. His voice is unique and clear on the cross and his power to heal, restore, protect, lead is unquestionable in his resurrection. To know his voice is to follow his voice (10:27. We know so we follow. We are loved, so we love. We are shepherded, so we shepherd each other.

In a world in which everyone wants to be the leader or “top dog”, Christians have a different instinct ingrained in them: Jesus calls it faith. The sheep know their shepherd to be a master servant (13:12-20) and, knowing that, they value and do servant hood, as they faithfully follow Him.

Following is not an act of blind, dumb obedience. Good followers are knowledgeable. They know exactly what and who they are following. That’s what makes them so good at following. This does not mean that there are not “leaders” in the Church. There are. But such leaders are sub-shepherds, master followers, appointed by THE Shepherd to serve on his behalf– like Peter, the Rock who is charged with feeding the flock on the Word of Jesus (21:15-19).

Gathered as a Community of Care One for Another.

And here is the heart of it all for us today. This faith in the voice of the Shepherd we know,  and the values of following and servant hood that he instills naturally lead to community.

So, following Jesus is not a private affair, but an affair of the flock. Our gathering as the flock of the Shepherd is all part of the abundant life he gives. In the midst of the flock we receive his feeding, his protection, his care and his life. In the flock there is no competition, but only mutual care and “friendship” (15:13). In the flock, the command and desire of Christ (that we “love one another as he has loved us”) becomes a reality here and now.

We are community and we are church and we are here. Jesus says he has many more sheep to add to his fold and that is our mandate. We are charged with the call to be committed to and concerned for those outside the flock – with love – Jesus’ love – the love of the Shepherd.

Above all the other things we learn, may we learn to love in Jesus’ “Good Shepherd” kind of way – self-giving, caring, and strong.

John puts it well…

 This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters in the flock…Dear people, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and truth. (1 John 3:16-18)

May we find way to love each other for it is by our love that those still yet to be drafted into the flock will know the love of Jesus for them.

Amen

Prayer:           And now may the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, our Good Shepherd. Amen