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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor


Fourth Sunday After Easter
Series
A

Option #1: "What is This Abundant Life?"
John 10:1-10
Rev. Wayne Dobratz, B.A., M.Div.

This Sunday in the Church Year is called Good Shepherd Sunday. We put our faith in our living Lord Jesus who promises the abundant life. What is this abundant life?:

I. It is to have a Good Shepherd--vv1-2

    A. He knows the sheep intimately--Jesus is their Creator/God

    B. He alone has the right to enter the sheep pen--He lays down his life for them--vv9 & 11--"I am the Gate for the sheep"; see also John 14:6 & Matt 20:28

II. It is to recognize and follow His voice--vv3-4, 16, 27; Ps 95:6-7

Lawrence O. Richards writes in The Teachers Commentary: True Shepherd recognized (John 10:1-6). In Israel sheep were not herded with dogs or by men who walked behind them. The shepherd of the Middle East led his sheep. He knew each one by name, and the sheep recognized his voice. At night several herds of sheep might sleep in the same fold. In the morning, when the one door was unbarred, each shepherd could unerringly pick out his own flock. And each member of that flock would be able to distinguish his shepherd from the others because the sheep would know the shepherd’s voice, just as God’s people recognize Jesus as the living Word of God.

III. It is to live in safety

    A. In this life--Isa 40:11, Ps 78:52-53, Ps 100:3, Isa 40:11-12, Col 2:6-10, Rom 5:1-2

    B. In the life which is to come--Rev 7:17, Rev 21:1-7; see also John 14: 2

Christ is full and sufficient for all his people. He is bread, wine, milk, living waters, to feed them; he is a garment of righteousness to cover and adorn them; a Physician to heal them; a Counselor to advise them; a Captain to defend them; a Prince to rule; a Prophet to teach; a Priest to make atonement for them; a Husband to protect; a Father to provide; a Brother to relieve; a Foundation to support; a Root to quicken; a Head to guide; a Treasure to enrich; a Sun to enlighten; and a Fountain to cleanse. (John Spencer, 1630-1693)

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CHILDREN’S MESSAGE (John 10:4-5)

Most of the farms around here used to be dairy farms. It wasn’t any problem getting the cows into the barn because they were hungry. They would walk in and you’d close the stanchions and then you would milk them. It was when you had to send them out that you might have a problem. That’s when you needed a good COW DOG. You’ve heard of a hunting dog and a seeing-eye dog, but what is a COW DOG? A COW DOG chases the cows out of the barn before they could make a big mess, if you know what I mean. If the cows were hungry, you could call them and they would come, but not always. Sometimes the COW DOG had to chase them home.

That’s not the way it is with SHEEP. Jesus said: "His sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5) But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." I want to tell you something. This is why you go to Sunday School, this is why you will go to Confirmation class, this is why we listen to God’s Word here in church. YOU NEED TO KNOW THE SHEPHERD’S VOICE! Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He loved the sheep (that’s us) so much that He laid down His life on the cross to die for their sins. His Word calls to you and says: "Follow me."

Jesus says that His people know his voice and will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not know his voice. Some people will come to your house with a strange voice. Some of them will tell you that Jesus is not God. Don’t listen to them!

If you go to college, you will hear some strange voices. They will tell you that Jesus is not the only way to God. Run away from them! You have learned to know the Shepherd’s voice here so that you never follow the voice of a stranger and get lost.

Always follow the voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd. Follow His voice all the way to eternal life. And then you will be at rest forever with Jesus, the Good Shepherd.

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Option #2: 
"God, The Grin Reaper" or "Shear Delight!" or "God's 'Fleece &
 Release'!" or "Baamen!"
Psalm 23
Rev. Kelly Bedard, B.A., M.Div.

 
The Point: God "clips" us, but doesn't cut us off!
 
The Problem: Our wants/busyness/straying/trials/death/the devil/God's discipline blind us to His provision and care for us and of our secure place in His flock.
 
The Promise: God's Law and Gospel and His forgiveness are continually being delivered to us, His sheep, so we are both comforted and empowered in the midst of the trials of life and death.
 
Notes:
 
1. Shearing time is always met with great anticipation by Australian farmers. All the year’s work comes down to those few long days. The shearers spend hours relieving sheep after sheep of a year’s growth of wool. Appearing plump on the way to the shed, some sheep are so heavy with wool they quickly tire and drop to their bellies if the dogs chase them for the briefest moments. In the chutes they wait their turn. There are usually thousands of sheep, so speed is crucial. Pulled into position for the first shave, sheep sitting upright against the shearer’s legs, the wool on the stomach is removed. The animal rotates slowly while long strokes remove the wool from stomach to side, to back, and down the other side. A few odd swipes on the legs and top of the head, and the fleece is gathered in a heap and quickly tossed skyward, flat onto a rack to be plucked and preened and graded for quality. The sheep, which minutes before appeared to be so substantial, hobbles off, dazed and bleating, patches of wool remaining, and full of bloodied scrapes, bright red against bright white underwool. Ready for next year’s growth. Only the shearing reveals how scrawny and helpless these little animals are. Relieved of the wool, they bound off. Those sheep are an awful sight when the shearing is done! They are scrawny, motley, bleating, and bleeding. It’s really quite hard to believe that they are the same animal before and after! Why are they shorn? Well, it’s a harvest, a livelihood for the shepherd, to be sure. But we might also note that if those little animals aren’t shorn, the wool will continue to grow. Weighted down with more than a year’s growth, sheep are susceptible to disease. They can’t move well; the fleece is filled with dirt and burrs, and infection is a danger. The sheep are extremely vulnerable in this state. The shearing is quite painful, but necessary. And the shepherd wants that sheep back on the range, growing a nice valuable coat for the next season! Good thing the shepherd is overseeing the shearing!
 
2. When you are facing the shears in life, know that the Shepherd is the one in control. And though God’s purposes be hidden (like they were in Christ dying on a cross), he is working his will in your life for your good. And what good is that? He’s allowing, causing, bringing afflictions to drive you to hold all the more tightly to “his rod and staff” (his precious Word--Luther); and as his dear blessed sheep, find in his precious Word of the Gospel “quiet waters” in your Baptism, “restoration of your souls” in his forgiving Word of absolution; a “table prepared in the presence of my enemies”--sin, death, and devil--in his blessed Sacrament of the Altar. “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life, and you shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever!” Amen! (Matthew Harrison)

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:35 PM