Home > Easter > He is Our Meat and Drink Indeed. St. John 10:11-16. Misericordias Domini 2013

He is Our Meat and Drink Indeed. St. John 10:11-16. Misericordias Domini 2013


the-good-shepherd-by-philippe-de-champaigne-691259Misericordias Domini (3rd Sunday of Easter)

St. Peter Lutheran Church

St. John 10:11-16

April 14, 2013

“He Is Our Meat and Drink Indeed”

Jesu juva!

Alleluia!  Christ is risen!

            Most of us have been served by pastors whom we considered good at one point or another.  Otherwise, it’s hard to imagine how we would still keep coming to church.

But it turns out that there is only one really good Shepherd.  All of the other ones, strictly speaking, are bad.  Even the ones who preach the true Word of God and labor to be shepherds to the sheep given to them to tend.  Even the great saints were bad shepherds.  Even David.  Even Moses.

The good shepherd is known by this: that He lays down His life for the sheep.

In our time there are many people who talk as if they are more compassionate than God.  They teach other people this hypocrisy.  They tell kids that it is just as wrong to kill animals as to kill human beings, or to raise animals for food as it would be to raise human beings as food for animals.

It is true that we should not be callous toward the suffering of animals.  The Bible teaches that too.

But there is a difference between humans and animals.  I wonder if there are any animal rights activists that would really be able to say with a straight face that it’s no different raising sheep for wool and meat and milk than it would be to do the same to human beings.  It would be absurd.

But that is just what Jesus says the good shepherd does.

People could accept that the Lord and faithful prophets and kings would serve God’s people.  It made sense that God would be merciful toward His people, bear with them, even love them.  It made sense that the Messiah would be a servant, rather than a tyrant barking out orders.

But Jesus is saying more than that.  There is only one good shepherd.  And He is the One who lays down His life for the sheep.

If a father wants to train his son to take over the family farm or business, he starts him at the bottom.  Maybe he makes him shepherd the sheep.  But he doesn’t have his son take care of the sheep forever.  He moves him up after awhile.  He doesn’t ask his son to take care of the sheep by giving up his life for them.  He doesn’t say, “Son, clothe the sheep with your own clothes.  Feed the sheep with your own flesh.”

That is what Jesus is saying, though.  “I am the real good shepherd, the only one that has ever been and ever will be.  I not only lead the sheep and am patient with them and make sure they are taken care of.  I lay down my life for my sheep, the way sheep throughout the Bible lay down their lives for their shepherds.  Shepherds shear sheep of their wool, kill them and sell their meat, take their milk, offer them as sacrifices to God.  But I am the good shepherd, and I lay down my life for my sheep.  I clothe them with myself.  I feed them with myself.  I nurse them with the milk of the word.  I offer myself as a sacrifice for the sheep.”

That’s why, instead of everyone saying, “What a pretty thing for Jesus to say,” there was division when he preached this sermon.  Many people said, “Jesus is demon-possessed.  He is insane.”

If God says that He will be the shepherd of His people, how can Jesus then say, “The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep”?  Is Jesus saying that God will die for His people?  That He will give Himself as their food, take His hair and make it into clothes for us?

Who ever heard of anything so ridiculous?

If you had a son and put him in charge of sheep, and he proceeded to put his own clothes on the sheep and feed them with his own flesh, you would say to your son, “Are you crazy?”  Even if such compassion for the sheep were praiseworthy, it would still be a foolish thing to do!  They’re sheep!  Even if they could live on human flesh, they wouldn’t like it.  And what are they going to do with human clothes?  And what would sheep be if they were not kept by human beings to give wool and meat?  Could they make it on their own in the wild?  Even if you loved sheep more than you loved yourself, you can’t make a sheep a man by dying for it.

And wouldn’t your son be crazy if he didn’t have any bigger goals in life than to serve sheep?  Much less die out of love for them?

That’s why many who listened to Jesus said He was crazy and demon possessed.  It was crazy for a shepherd to die for his sheep.  It was blasphemous to suggest that unless God and His Messiah died for the sheep, they were not good shepherds.

What Jesus said is just as crazy today.  It’s just that we have a hard time hearing it because there is so much Hallmark-card distortion of Jesus.

If we didn’t misunderstand the message, we would also be unsettled by Jesus’ words.

How could it possibly be that God, all-powerful, all-glorious, all-wise, wants to suffer instead of His flock, when they are rebels against Him, despise Him, don’t appreciate Him?  How could it be that He wants to be the lamb who dies instead of them, and be their food and drink and clothing?

It is more crazy than if I took my only son, killed him, had him made into livestock feed.  The distance between me and my son and animals is not nearly as great as the distance between God’s glory and us.

No wonder people are always amending the Word of God so that somehow, some way, human beings do something to make themselves worthy of salvation.  Surely it’s ludicrous that God would do such a thing.  Surely, it sounds blasphemous to say that we, who should serve and honor God, are served by Him in this way, where He is the slave and the “butler”, as one catechumen said to me, and we are the lords and masters.

Jesus is indeed our Lord, Master, and God.  He is greater than us, far greater than we are compared to sheep.  But He laid down His life for us.  He feeds us with His body.  He gives us His blood to drink.  He gave up His Spirit and put it within us.  He covers us with His crucified and risen body as our clothing.

He dies so that His Father is our Father; He dies so that His inheritance is our inheritance.

And what does Jesus get out of this?  Nothing.  He was of one substance with the Father from eternity.  He was already God.  He did not rise any higher when He ascended into heaven.  He only brought us up.  As amazing as it would be if a sheep was made a human, He has done what is more amazing; He has made sinners against God, rightly condemned to hell, into sons of God.

No other shepherd would do this or could do this.  Not even faithful kings and pastors.  Not even Moses.  Jesus alone is the good shepherd, and the Holy Christian Church belongs to Him only.

He alone does not run when the devil comes to condemn the human race to hell.  He lays down His life for the sheep.

Why does Jesus lay down His life for the sheep?  Because they are His.  He knows them and they know Him, just as the Father knows [Him] and [He] knows the Father.

            The Father knows Jesus inside and out.  Jesus is His only begotten.  There is nothing hidden between them.

And there is nothing hidden from Jesus about you.  It is all open to Him.  He knows it all better than you do.  The truth of our sin and its condemnation which hides in the darkness was publicly exposed on Jesus’ body when He gave His life for the whole world.

But do you know Jesus?

In our sinful nature we do not want to know Jesus.  We want to write Him off as crazy, demon-possessed.  You would like to believe that things are not so drastic as this.

But they are.  God’s judgment is so strict and drastic that all sin must be paid for and taken away.  And God’s love is so drastic and immense that the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep—for you.  He is your food, drink, clothing, bodyguard.  Your Lord and Master and the one who serves you as a slave.  We come to His table and feast as lords on His body and blood and receive eternal life, and Jesus is the servant and the meal.

What punishment so strange is suffered yonder?

            The Shepherd dies for sheep that loved to wander.

            The master pays the debt His servants owe Him

            Who would not know Him.

 

            Then let us feast this Easter day

            On Christ the bread of heaven.

            The word of grace has purged away

            The old and evil leaven

            Christ alone our souls will feed

            He is our meat and drink indeed

            Faith lives upon no other!  Alleluia!

The peace of God, which passes understanding, keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

SDG

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  1. April 21, 2013 at 8:11 pm

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