Summary: Jesus knows you. You know Jesus. Those are blessings.
Dear friends in Christ, last weekend’s sermon focused on the blessings of being members of God’s flock, with Jesus as the Good Shepherd. This morning, we’re going to continue that thought – I guess you could say that today is Good Shepherd Sunday, part 2.
Our focus fits in well with the special weekend we have here at St. Paul’s. The theme of this weekend is “bountiful blessings.” What actually are the bountiful blessings that God has given to us, that we are celebrating. John 10:14-15 answers that question – listen closely… "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-- and I lay down my life for the sheep.
Bountiful blessing #1 – the Good Shepherd knows you. Bountiful Blessing #2 – you know the Good Shepherd. These are the blessings that we are celebrating today.
I’ve lived in Lake Mills for six years now, and one thing I’m still getting used to is living in a place where you cannot be anonymous. It’s a small town – people recognize you. Just the other day I go to the post office, wearing some real grubby clothes, messed up hair and glasses, and I turn around and a Lakeside student is right there, saying hello. I go to Sentry to pick up some emergency diapers baby cleaning supplies, and there’s a Lakeside parent in line right in front of me, smiling as she sees what I’m about to buy. You can’t be anonymous in this town.
No matter where you go, can’t be anonymous with God. “I know my sheep,” Jesus says. God knows you. And that is a blessing. The word “know” in the Bible has this idea of a deep intimate knowledge of everything about you. Do you realize how well Jesus knows you? Before creation, Jesus knew your name, he knew who your parents would be, what your life would be like, growing up. He knows what are you good at, what are things that make you happy, and what things make you afraid. Jesus knows you. This is bountiful blessing number one.
But is it? You see, when I read this in the Bible, there’s a part of me that doesn’t like this. If Jesus knows us this well, then he knows our sins. Aren’t there things about you that you would rather keep private? Embarrassing things? Things that you have said or done or just thought – that you would be ashamed of, if they were brought out into the open? Every human being has a secret life, a secret vault where we keep certain sins that we want no one to ever see. But Jesus sees. Our lives are open books to him. This doesn’t sound like a bountiful blessing – it sounds like a curse.
What does the Good Shepherd do, when he sees the sins of his flock? He has every reason to throw us out of his flock for all of our sins. But instead, he says this: “I lay down my life for the sheep.” Do shepherds normally lay down their lives for their sheep? No. A shepherd will do the best he can to fight off any wild animals, but even a good shepherd isn’t going to just lay down his life, and let a wild animal kill him. Besides, what good would it do? After the wild animal kills the shepherd, there’s no one there to protect the sheep!
But you have a shepherd who loves you. He sees Satan, the wolf, coming to attack the flock filled with sin. He steps between you and the wolf. He takes into himself all of your sins – including those secret sins, those shameful sins, and he allows Satan to kill him. He lays down his life for you, and he dies. Satan thinks he has won, and that he can attack you next. But then, Jesus rises from the dead, and that changes everything. You don’t have a shepherd who’s dead. You have a shepherd who’s alive. You have a shepherd who’s taken your sins away. Where is the proof that my shame is gone? Where is the proof that my secret sins are gone? Where is the proof, that my embarrassment is gone? Jesus has risen from the dead – he is alive – there is your proof. There is the biggest blessing that anyone could ever enjoy.
If any of you have ever been parents before, you know that one of the most frustrating things about parenting is when something is wrong with your child, but you can’t fix it. Maybe you don’t even know what’s wrong – is it a virus? Why doesn’t the medication work? What does my child need? Different medicine? Maybe a different diet? Surgery? Therapy? You know something is wrong, and you love your child - you want your child to be happy and healthy – but as a parent, you don’t always know what to do, or how to fix it.