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Norma Boeckler, Artist-in-Residence

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email: greg.jackson.edlp@gmail.com,
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Luther's Sermons, Lenker Series
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Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Second Sunday after Easter - John 10:11-16

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Misericordias Domini – The Second Sunday after Easter, 2013


Pastor Gregory L. Jackson




The Hymn #628            Shepherd of Tender Youth               3:74
The Confession of Sins
The Absolution
The Introit p. 16
The Gloria Patri
The Kyrie p. 17
The Gloria in Excelsis
The Salutation and Collect p. 19
The Epistle and Gradual       
The Gospel              
Glory be to Thee, O Lord!
Praise be to Thee, O Christ!
The Nicene Creed p. 22
The Sermon Hymn # 426               The Lord My Shepherd Is            3:81

Three Kinds of Shepherds

The Communion Hymn # 307            Draw Nigh                3:72
The Preface p. 24
The Sanctus p. 26
The Lord's Prayer p. 27
The Words of Institution
The Agnus Dei p. 28
The Nunc Dimittis p. 29
The Benediction p. 31
The Hymn #50                 Lord Dismiss Us                3:86

Second Sunday After Easter

Lord God, heavenly Father, who of Thy fatherly goodness hast been mindful of us poor, miserable sinners, and hast given Thy beloved Son to be our shepherd, not only to nourish us by His word, but also to defend us from sin, death, and the devil: We beseech Thee, grant us Thy Holy Spirit, that, even as this Shepherd doth know us and succor us in every affliction, we also may know Him, and, trusting in Him, seek help and comfort in Him, from our hearts obey His voice, and obtain eternal salvation, through the same, Thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with Thee and the Holy Ghost, one true God, world without end. Amen.

KJV 1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

KJV John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. 12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. 13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

Three of Luther’s sermons on this text:


Three Kinds of Shepherd


KJV John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
Three kinds of shepherd are defined in this short but classic I AM passage in John’s Gospel.

All the I AM passages are symbolic and define the divinity of Christ. The I AM is not just identification, the way we use English – I am a teacher. I am a father. But the term reflects the passage from Exodus 3, where Moses asks the Angel of the Lord, “Who is sending me? What is Your Name?”

“Tell them – I AM has sent me.”

Thus Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I AM.”

God Incarnate is the Good Shepherd, but what does that mean?

Once again, our language is rather weak to translate it exactly as it was heard. The New Living Jackson Version renders it this way – The Shepherd above all shepherds, because “good” is not adequate for the adjective, and the adjective is used to highlight the unique status of this Shepherd.

And yet, because we know this chapter from childhood, we know very well who the Good Shepherd is and how noble this title is.

Shepherd is one of the most familiar associations we have with Jesus, and this role or title includes hundreds of passages including our favorite ones.

KJV Isaiah 40:11
He shall feed his flock like a shepherd:
he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom,
and shall gently lead those that are with young.

Here we are, speaking about the Shepherd, in our role as sheep:

KJV Psalm 23:1 {A Psalm of David.} The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.

One of the best known passages in Ezekiel is about false shepherds.

KJV Ezekiel 34:1 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 2 Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds; Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. 4 The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. 5 And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and upon every high hill: yea, my flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth, and none did search or seek after them. 7 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 8 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; 9 Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; 10 Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.

The Epistle for today harmonizes beautifully with the Gospel, and also reflects the language of Isaiah 53:

KJV 1 Peter 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: 24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. 25 For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

First of all, a human shepherd has two main tasks:
  1. To lead his flock to places where they can graze and drink fresh water. One man I knew bought land to raise sheep, but the ground was so wet he could not have any healthy sheep there. That is just one aspect of raising sheep.
  2. A shepherd must guard his helpless sheep against predators and thieves.

An ordinary shepherd did not give up his life for his sheep. That is how we define the Good Shepherd, who did this for us.

We could say that Jesus defined His role as bringing us the Gospel of His atoning death. As the innocent Lamb of God, He provided the sacrifice for our sins, so every view of Him, every quotation from Him speaks of this Gospel message – “I died to pay for your sins.”

This is a gentle message of love and grace, because human sheep are much like their ovine counterparts. I just read that when sheep are sheared, they lose their identity with each other. The leaders have to re-establish themselves anew because sheep are just as superficial as we are – they look at the outsides, the clothing, and not at the inside (as God does).

So, first of all Jesus feeds us with the Gospel and leads us to refreshing water. Living in a desert valley will change anyone’s view of water. To live, vast amounts of water are used, and water becomes expensive in volume. So water is precious and life-giving.

The atonement is associated with food (the Lord’s Supper) and with the cleansing water of baptism. In other words, the cross of Christ is taught with the Word and with the Sacraments.

As John 10 shows, the shepherd goes out in front of his sheep, calling them by name, and leads them to food and water. He knows his sheep and they know his voice.


This is where Luther taught this idea so beautifully. I was looking for the quotation in the John 10 sermons, forgetting it was in the Luke 15 sermon on the Parable of the Lost Sheep. So perfectly do these lessons fit together that one gives us additional details about the other.

The only way to teach the Gospel correctly is to present Jesus in the most friendly and comforting way possible. That means excluding all error and teaching exactly what the Word reveals.

What does a sheep require to be fed and protected by the shepherd? The answer is clear – faith.

The sheep trusts in the shepherd’s voice and follows. It is in that trust that the sheep receives the benefits from the shepherd.

So it is with Christ our Good Shepherd. By trusting in Him alone, we receive the forgiveness of sin that we cannot earn or buy with our works and merit.

Are we good? No. Are we strong? No. Do we wander away in our weakness? Yes.

Yet Christ feeds and protects us.
The protecting is just as much the result of faith as the feeding. Many humans fear they cannot be fed unless Holy Mother Synod feeds them. They will have no friends unless Holy Mother Synod declares them kosher and good and worthy of all praise. They cannot be protected against evil unless Holy Mother Synod steps in to post bond for them and lie for them.

But trusting in God’s Word means relying on God’s grace in faith and also in protection from evil.

The synod does not give us our daily bread – God does.

The synod does not deliver us from evil. In contrast, all the synods have delivered their pastors and members to evil, gift-wrapped, skimming offering funds to train leaders in apostasy. Anti-errancy? Get a Dmin from Fuller and deny it. Anti-Means of Grace? We only get our fake doctorates from anti-Means of Grace schools. Means of Grace? – that is the cell group – ask Buchie’s theological expert – Jeff Gunn. Or is it Jay Webber? I get those two mixed up.

Jesus promised us the cross if we follow Him – not exactly a great recruiting slogan. But we have to treasure each Word and see the unpleasant and painful sayings as worthwhile, fulfilling, and ultimately gracious and eternal-life-giving.

The shepherd led with his staff, but Christ leads with His cross. Unlke four-footed sheep, we can follow in His steps and see Him as our example. In bearing the cross of rejection and abuse, we share a little tiny bit of Christ’s mission and see the spiritual benefit for our own eternal good.

There is always that one thing we might have had that was taken away by the cross. If we really understand the cross, we say, “Good. I should not be attached to that instead of the Gospel.” And it is not the cross unless it chafes and bears down on us terribly at times.


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The Hired Hand

12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep,

The hired hand is the minister and the officials who are only in it the work for money, comfort, and security. They know by doing and saying the right things, by marrying the right person, they can travel the world for free. They can get a big income and do no work. And they think they deserve it too. That is the funny part – the sad part. They imagine they are doing great work while robbing the poor and trampling on them. “It’s their fault they are stuck in Bovine Corners!”

The hired hands obey the wolves because they have no fear of the Word. They are really unbelievers but not brave enough to admit it.
The Wolf

and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.

The wolve needs the hired hands, because the hirelings leave the sheep in confusion, without faith in Christ, and the wolf slaughters them easily. The sheep believe in their human leaders, their human institutions. They believe that they preserve everything good by shunning anyone judged to be outside the flock. Who tells them? The hired hands, who like keeping their guild small and protected.

One thing in common today – Evangelicals and Lutherans have almost no protection against false teachers because their leaders have been forcing Church Growth and Emergent Church poison on them for decades – while denying it of course.

Anyone with a little knowledge of farm animals knows that they wander into bad food that bloats and kills them. Humans are similar. Living a few decades means knowing that each hot fad in a church is colder than ice in a few years.

The foundations are missing – basic doctrinal teaching. I do not mean repeat-after-me answers but solid, Biblical teaching that unites the Word in one truth.

14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.

We are those sheep. Christ sent missionaries out to the entire world. The Gospel called forth faith in those who heard the Word, and those who believed passed on those treasures to people after them.

When the printing press was invented in the West, the books printed were religious books. Almost all of them were, because people were dying to read the Bible and to read about the Word.

"For we can definitely assert that where the Lord's Supper, Baptism, and the Word are found, Christ, the remission of sins, and life eternal are found. On the other hand, where these signs of grace are not found, or where they are despised by men, not only grace is lacking but also foul errors will follow. Then men will set up other forms of worship and other signs for themselves."    
What Luther Says, An Anthology, 3 vols., II,  p. 914. Genesis 4:3.


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