John 10:11-18 Fourth Sunday of Easter
Pastor Nathan Nass April 22, 2018
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns 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. 13 The 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.”
“I Just Wanna Be a Sheep!”
If you could choose any animal, what animal would you want to be? Now for some of you, that might sound like a strange question. For others, it’s a question you get asked all the time. I do! “Dad, what animal do you want to be.” And the animals come out. What ani-mals do you think our boys have? Black bear, grizzly bear, polar bear, lion, tiger, leopard, killer whale…. What do they all have in common? Big. Fierce. Strong. I don’t know what your animal collection is like these days, but those animals show our opinion of ourselves. Strong. Independent. “I’m going to be a bear or an eagle or a T-rex…” If you could be any animal, which animal would you choose?
So what animal does God compare us people to more than any other animal in the Bible? Sheep. Strong? Powerful? Independent? Nope. Wandering. Helpless. Foolish. Sheep. Is that really true? “Come on, God, can’t we at least be rhinos or something? Sheep?” God knows us better than we know ourselves. As independent as we think we are, I wonder if we realize how influenced we are by everybody else. We have a member who sews—Kay Brandt. She’s busy altering prom dresses. She told me that it’s very predictable what prom dresses will look like. Just watch Disney movies. Whatever the princess is wearing, four or five years down the road, that’s what prom dresses will look like. After Frozen, all light green dresses like Elsa. We’re so easily influenced!
Like sheep, right? It’s not just teenagers at prom time. As strong as we think we are, I wonder if we realize how dependent we are on others. Isaiah asked me last week how a microwave works. Do you know? I bet about three of you could explain it, but the rest of us still wouldn’t understand! If the power went out across our whole country, like in Puerto Rico, what would we do? Can you see how dependent we are? Can you notice how your heart is always “following” someone? We even use that word—“following”—for Facebook and Twitter, right? We are all following someone. Dependent on someone. What does that make us? Sheep.
But it gets worse. We’re not just followers. Not just dependent. We’re wanderers. Straying sheep. Earlier in our service, we read from Isaiah, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way…” Now we’re talking about sin. God also calls us sheep because we’ve all gone astray, each of us to his own way. All different sins. All dif-ferent struggles. All different mistakes and failures and guilt. Do you ever feel lost? Feel guilty? Feel ashamed? Yes. Yes. Yes. God, of course, knows us. He knows just how to de-scribe us. Easily influenced. Dependent on others. Always going astray. What does that make us? Sheep. What do sheep need? A good shepherd!
So Jesus has good news today. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Of all the beautiful ways that God describes his relationship with us, this picture of Jesus as our Good Shepherd has especially found a home in Chris-tian hearts. The thought that Jesus really leads us no matter where we are or what we’ve done or how life looks…. We read Psalm 23 at every funeral. “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.” Such comfort in life and in death. “I am the good shepherd.” If Jesus is the Shepherd, I just wanna be a sheep! I hope you can say that.
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