Summary: Showing how the Good Shepherd can draw near in a time of grief, bringing comfort and salvation.
JOHN 10:9 – 18 (SELECTED VERSES)
9. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10. I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. 11. "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 14. 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."
We have come to a moment of great sadness as we pay tribute to the memory of M. C. I did not know M. personally, but having spoken with the family it is obvious that she was loved by those who best knew her, she had the reputation of being kind and caring. What a lovely memory to leave behind! She was formerly from H. G., but lived her later years in H., meeting with the people around her in the community. Although she mingled with people, she was very independent, and was able in her early days to take on caring for her brothers G. and V., G. has already passed away, and V. is left to mourn the loss of one dear to him. It is good that E. shares this loss with him. There will be a gap left by the passing of M., for even though she had reached 91 years of age, she was loved and will be missed.
It is good at times like this, in moments of great sorrow, to turn for comfort and strength to the Word of God.
What wonderful comfort we find in the Scripture that we read earlier. We read of the Shepherd and the Sheep; and the Lord Jesus Christ makes it clear that He is speaking of Himself when He speaks of ‘The Good Shepherd’. You will remember that He said “I lay down my life for the sheep”. Here is a Shepherd who is interested in every one of His sheep, and calls them to follow Him. He leads them to places where they can be fed, rested and refreshed. He protects His sheep from those who would seek to harm them. [We see this in the 23rd Psalm]. He knows each one of those who belong to Him. Isn‘t it encouraging to think of such a ‘Good Shepherd‘ as this?
Here we are, come to pay tribute to the memory of M. C., a relative and friend. No wonder there is sorrow at such a time as this. We cannot deny that there will be many an ache in the heart because of this loss.
This then is the time to draw near to the ‘Good Shepherd’, the time when we hurt because we miss our loved one. It is at this time that we need to allow the ‘Good Shepherd’ to care for us.
The Eastern Shepherd always had soothing oil to anoint the sheep when they were hurt. David, in Psalm 23, speaks of the Lord anointing him with oil. Right here in this gathering, as you lift your heart to the Lord, you too can find the oil of anointing coming down on you – the Peace of God coming into your heart.
The Lord spoke of Himself as being the gateway into the sheepfold. We need to come His way into the fold to find His rest; to hear the comfort of His voice speaking to our hearts.
The Lord said, “Whoever enters through Me will be saved”. What a wonderful promise from the One who loves with an eternal love, the One who cared enough for His sheep to lay down His life for them. How good to know such a Shepherd as this, at a time when we need someone to help us in our time of sorrow.
Earthly friends, with all the best intentions, can tell us that they care, but that does not meet the full need. It does help, but it does not remove the ache from the heart. This is when we need our Heavenly Friend, the ‘Good Shepherd’ the Lord Jesus Christ. He is able to bring comfort where there is grief. He can bring peace where there is distress. He can bring joy even in the valley of tears.