Summary: Sermon ofr Good Shepherd Sunday
With The Good Shepherd You Are Kept Safe
The thief was in the sheep pen again this week, wasn’t he? The thief stole our security with the violence and death that comes with terrorism. Israel continues to be plagued with suicide bombers and our country remains on alert against terrorist attacks. The FBI has issued an alert because there is the possibility that terrorist’s may use suicide bombers here in the United States. At one time we believed that our country was safe from attacks, but sine 9/11, this is not true anymore and the same question is on everyone’s minds: Will we ever be safe again? Our Word of God for today contains the answer. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is the answer. He says to us today, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.”
Open the Bible to St. John’s Gospel, the 10th chapter on page __________, you’ll notice that the New International Version for verse 9 has a footnote on the word “saved.” It could also be translated “be kept safe.” That’s why I’ve chosen as our theme today: With the Good Shepherd You Are Kept Safe. Our world today seems to be a dangerous place. But Jesus wants to assure us that if we follow him, follow our Good Shepherd, we are kept safe.
Since you have the Bible open to John’s Gospel, go back to chapter 9. In order for us to appreciate the text that we have before us it is necessary to see the larger context in which these words are found. John chapter 9 is where Jesus heals the man who had been born blind. When some of this man’s neighbors saw that he had been healed, they felt compelled to bring the man to the Pharisees—some of the most respected religious leaders at that time. As you scan through verses 13 to 34 you see how these religious leaders investigated this miracle. the Pharisees did not hear what they wanted to hear and they “threw him out” or excommunicated him from the synagogue.
When Jesus heard that this man had been treated so shamefully by the religious leaders He went and found this man for a very specific reason. Jesus had already given this man the gift of physical sight. Now Jesus gives him something far more precious and far more necessary—the gift of spiritual sight, the ability to see Jesus as his only Savior from sin! Some of the Pharisees who were present at that time objected to the fact that Jesus called them spiritually blind guides. That objection by the Pharisees is what led Jesus to speak these words of our text.
The Pharisees as I mentioned earlier were the religious leaders of the people. Theirs was the responsibility of being a shepherd to God’s people; keeping the people spiritually safe. But the truth of the matter is that they had become spiritual terrorists, spiritual thieves and robbers who were leading the people astray with their teachings of works righteousness. They were teaching the people to rely on their own abilities to earn God’s favor. They were teaching the people that because they were Abraham’s children they had a right to be in heaven. The Pharisees were not being reliable shepherds and they were helping the people commit spiritual suicide.
Sheep need a reliable shepherd if they are to be kept safe. They are such defenseless creatures. If they don’t have someone to defend them, they are the most defenseless of God’s creatures. Without the shepherd the sheep wander off and become lost. They cannot even find food that is as close as thirty feet away. They become easy prey to predators like wolves and lions with no one to protect them and keep them safe.
Just like sheep, sometimes we also wander away from the Good Shepherd and become lost. When this happens we too become easy prey for the predators of our souls. God tells us, “Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”
It is so easy to fall into sin when we wander away from Jesus. Like the Pharisees we become overconfident, trusting in our own merits to earn God’s favor. We can even start to think that just because we are members of a church we are entitled to eternal life in heaven. But this type of thinking is as I mentioned before is spiritual suicide. Jesus says, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.” There is only one way to get into heaven, to get into God’s sheep pen and that is through faith in the one and only Son of God. Jesus tells us, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”