The Good Shepherd - John 10:1-10 Sermon / Sunday May 11th 2014 / Season of Easter
The Good Shepherd - John 10:1-10 / Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Season of Easter / Rev. Ted A. Giese / Sunday May 11th 2014
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what He was saying to them.
So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I Am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I Am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends. "Jesus heard that [the Pharisees] had cast [out of the Synagogue the man blind from birth, the man Jesus healed by removing his blindness], and having found [this man, Jesus] said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” [The newly healed man, who had been blind, when he first met Jesus] answered, “And who is he, sir, that I may believe in Him?” Jesus said to him, “You have seen Him, and it is He who is speaking to you.” [The man whose eyes Jesus had healed] said, “Lord, I believe,” and he worshiped [Jesus]. Jesus said, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” Some of the Pharisees near [Jesus] heard these things, and said to Him, “Are we also blind?” Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains."
This exchange immediately precedes the Gospel reading from this morning where Jesus says “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” All that business with the man blind from birth comes just before these words of Jesus about Jesus being the Good Shepherd.
Context is important, how things fit together can tell you a lot: The man Jesus healed, the man blind from birth could not see Jesus but he listened to Jesus' voice and followed Jesus' voice as Jesus lead the man to sight. When you put what came immediately before our reading this morning into the mix it quickly comes clear that the Pharisees are the thieves and robbers who have climbed into the sheepfold by another way. In the minds and hearts of the people they are trying to hold the place appointed for the Levitical Priesthood. In the time of the Gospel of John the Levitical Priesthood is generally comprised of the group called the Sadducees. In many ways these Sadducees had abandoned and rejected key aspects of their responsibilities and had become bad under-shepherds of the Good Shepherd, who through the Old Testament people knew to be the LORD God of Israel. But instead of reforming the system the Pharisees worked to usurp Sadducees, to replace them. The Pharisees were not at work to support and build up the Sadducees, they were not encouraging them to be faithful in their vocational task. The Pharisees are guilty of trying to influence the Children of Israel to their own ends (and regardless of their 'good intentions' they had assumed a role that wasn't theirs to assume); the Sadducees had largely abandoned their role (for "greener" Greek philosophical pastures) and this poor sheep, the man blind from birth is caught in the middle of it all, and Jesus the true Good Shepherd is dropped into the middle of it all too.
In these days, in North American society, people are celebrating Mother's Day. Does Mother's day have anything to do with all this? Not directly but I think we can make some connections right from the text itself: First off, on the one hand, you have a man blind from birth, and he like you has a mother who gave birth to him, and if you read the whole account of his story his mom does show up as one who is questioned by the Pharisees about her son, but this mother (along with her husband, the man's father) throws her son under the bus out of fear of being rejected by the Pharisees and being thrown out of the Synagogue too. So that's not exactly Mother's Day Sermon material is it ... or is it? Motherhood isn't all apple pie sometimes it is very difficult and sometimes mothers are put in bad situations like this man's mother. Now this leads us to a second thing to think about, on the other hand, this account of the man blind from birth and his mother (with Jesus in the centre of the whole thing) reveals an aspect of motherhood that is obvious but not always pointed out in connection to Jesus being the Good Shepherd: Motherhood is a little like shepherding. From conception a woman with child is tasked with the vocation of mother, she is to nurture and protect her child trough the pregnancy, through infancy, through childhood, even though adulthood (even past the point when children stop wanting to be shepherded in life). And like the Sadducees there are mothers who reject their role of mother, and in life there are people who try like the Pharisees to horn in on the responsibilities of the mother, people who can be bad influences on children.
What about this man blind from birth and his mother? We don't know what ever happened with this man blind from birth and his mother after the events in John's Gospel. Did he reject his mother because she refused to stick up for him? Did he forgiver her even though she'd failed to defend him against the wolves in shepherd's clothing, those Pharisees that were casting her son out of the sheepfold? We just don't know.
If you are a mother you know that you need forgiveness for the times you've failed at being a mother, for the times you've failed at shepherding you children through life. If you are not a mother but you are the child of a mother, by the way that's all of us, we too have times when we need to ask forgiveness for the times that we have broken the 4th commandment and not honoured our mother, the times when we have not received her guidance and the shepherding she provided. We also need to forgive our mother for the times that she has provided bad guidance or no guidance, for the times she has sinned against us, or abandoned us to the dangers of the world.
Let's bring this back around to Jesus. Later as Jesus was drawing ever closer to the crucifixion, Looking towards Jerusalem Jesus said "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!" Jesus describes Himself as a 'mother hen' with chicks under the wing, that is another illustration of Jesus and His Shepherding, keep it in mind and hear again the words from today's Gospel: Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I Am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I Am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly." Jesus continues later in this passage and says "I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know Me, just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep." Jesus later, again in this same passage, continues with this promise, "I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand."
Be comforted by these words. If you as a mother have had a baptized child snatched out of your hands, remember that Jesus has that child in His hand. If you as a baptized child have been snatched out of your mother's hands remember that you are not left to wander in life you are in Jesus' hand. Today and every day, remember that Jesus is the Good Shepherd in Him there is forgiveness: Forgiveness for the times you have rejected your mother and broke that 4th commandment failing to honour her; Forgiveness for you (as a mother) when you have exasperated your children. Forgiveness for poor shepherding, forgiveness for rejecting the kind shepherding provided in love. All this forgiveness flows from Jesus. In your mind you may have more questions suddenly, a laundry list of things may suddenly have sprung to mind, accusations may have popped up that you didn't expect - Jesus forgives sin, sin of every kind. You're a bad child? Ask for forgiveness, you're a bad mother? Ask for forgiveness. You pride yourself on being a good child or a good mother - remember that "If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us." Jesus our Good Shepherd is the Truth. "If we say we have not sinned, we make [God] a liar, and His Word is not in us." Jesus our Good Shepherd is the Word. Listen to the Good Shepherd's voice when Jesus says "I am the Good Shepherd. I know my own and my own know Me, ... I lay down My life for the sheep ... I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand." Listen to Jesus say this to you today, if you have ears to hear it - hear these words! If everyone else in the world rejects you, trust that Jesus will not reject you, as the 'Mother Hen' He comes to you "with healing in [His] wings." Those arms stretched out for you at the cross cover over your sin and shepherd you home. He is your Good Shepherd. Pattern your life after Him, trust His guidance, let Him lead you in paths of righteousness for His name sake. If you are lost He goes after you until He finds you. He puts you on His shoulder rejoicing and carries you home.
Mothers look to Jesus, Fathers look to Jesus, Children look to Jesus: Whether you are a mother or not, in life we are all tasked to look after each other as we ourselves would like to be looked after; look to Jesus to see how it's done and do it, tuning always to Him for forgiveness, keeping in mind that "The law says 'Do this', and it is never done. Grace says, 'believe in this' and everything is already done." In Jesus everything is done and it is all done well, with the man blind from birth who received his sight, with all who hear Jesus' voice and follow Him, trust that He has done it all for you and your forgiveness is secure in Him. Forgiveness for death, destruction and rejection, forgiveness for abandonment and neglect, forgiveness for anger and selfishness, forgiveness for stubbornness and dishonour. Forgiveness for all of it and in that forgiveness life, abundant and eternal life. Jesus our Good Shepherd is the Life, the abundant and eternal life, you are His and He is yours. Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 John 9:1
 John 9:35-41
 John 10:1-5
 When you think of Psalm 23 you may instantly think of Jesus, and it is about Jesus, but the people in the time of the Gospel of John would have thought of the LORD as God and they had not yet begun to widely trust and believe that Jesus was God. The Trinity was not as clear to them as it would become following Jesus' death and resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost. Psalm 23 is about the LORD, the fullness of God, the whole Trinity.
 John 9:18-23, The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight, until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son and that he was born blind. But how he now sees we do not know, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” (His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had already agreed that if anyone should confess Jesus to be Christ, he was to be put out of the synagogue.) Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”
 Luke 13:34
 John 10:14-15
 John 10:28
 1 John 1:8
 John 14:6
 1 John 1:10
 John 1:1
 Malachi 4:2
 Psalm 23
 Luke 15:1-7
 Dr. Martin Luther, "The Heidelberg Disputation" 1518