"Never Abandoned!" John 10:11-16

Series: Easter 2023

April 23, 2023
Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

"I am Jesus little lamb" the Christian confidently sings through the waters of Holy Baptism. Christ Jesus is The Good Shepherd. Apart from Him the old evil wolf Satan devours humanity and destroys creation. Our Good Shepherd lays down His life for sinful straying sheep on Calvary. Then He takes His life up again to be with us always through His Word and in His Sacraments within the green pastures of His Church. Sermon for Misercordias Domini, The 3rd Sunday of Easter, 23-April-2023, preached at Emmanuel Lutheran Church, Tell City, Indiana by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert.

Episode Notes

Misercordias Domini, The 3rd Sunday of Easter           23-April-2023
Sermon Text: John 10:11-16
Sermon Theme: “Never Abandoned!” by Rev. Nathan J. Rusert

I.N.R.I. “Alleluia! Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia!” The earth is full of the steadfast love of Christ Jesus! The steadfast love of the Good Shepherd - my Shepherd - I shall not want. Do not fear little flock! Your strength isn’t in your numbers. Your strength is your Good Living Shepherd who bears in His body the wounds of your redemption. As God the Holy Spirit, just opened our mouths to declare in song: “Be of good cheer; your cause belongs To Him who can avenge your wrongs; Leave it to Him, our Lord. Though hidden yet from mortal eyes, His Gideon shall for you arise, Uphold you and His Word.”
      Peter, the straying sheep, fearing punishment and death denied that he ever knew the Good Shepherd. Three times he denied Jesus finally cursing himself to hell if he’d ever known this Galilean. The Good Shepherd knows. His look alone convicts Peter. He flees with bitter tears unable to take back his words. Jesus suffers, is crucified, dies, and is buried. Peter hid in shame and fear. All seemed lost. Proudly he had boasted at the Last Passover that he was willing to die for Jesus. In sin he had denied, abandoned, cursed his Lord. What hope was there for a poor miserable sinner like Peter? Like me? Like you? The cold stone grave had robbed us all of hope for reconciliation.
    “All we like sheep have gone astray”, Isaiah preached seven centuries earlier, “and the Lord has laid on Him [on Jesus] the iniquity of us all.” The injustice, the rushed trial, the conviction, the cross, the agony, the death of the Innocent Man wasn’t an accident. It is the redemption of sinners. Our sins forever buried in Christ’s tomb. He physically rises. His angel preacher, a young man in a long white robe, sends word to Peter the denier - that the Crucified is risen! Now the straying sheep Peter is called by the Holy Spirit through the Word of Jesus to repent and return to the Shepherd and Overseer of his soul forever reconciled to God the Father in Jesus. Peter abandoned Jesus. Jesus never abandoned His little lamb.
      Dear sinner, called by grace to be Christ’s little lamb, hear the voice of your Good Shepherd this morning. In sin you may have denied Jesus, strayed from the flock of your local congregation, sat silent rather than opening your mouth to declare His praise. He has not forsaken you! Look to your Living Good Shepherd. In Him you are: “Never Abandoned!”
    Six months before the final Passover Jesus is in the Temple at Jerusalem preaching and teaching. Our Good Shepherd, when on trial before the High Priest will testify, “Joh 18:20 "I spoke openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where the Jews always meet, and in secret I have said nothing.” Learn well that false shepherds will lead you away from the gathering of Christ’s Church to secret places. They will boast of secret knowledge - it is a lie. Our crucified and risen Good Shepherd is present where “two or three gather together in His Name” - In His Church - around His Word and Sacrament. It is the lie of Satan, the old evil wolf, that the Holy Spirit works outside of Jesus’ doctrine and forgiving gifts within His Church.
      Listen to His voice! (Jn. 10:11) “I AM” - Jesus is Yahweh - God of God, Light of Light, Very God of Very God, Begotten not made, of One substance with the Father, by Whom all things were made!” Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny this truth of Jesus - show that they are deceived by the wolf - Satan. Jesus is “Good” for He is God begotten of the Father from eternity. He is the “Shepherd” for He is truly man born of the Virgin Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit. Listen to His Voice! Boldly confess His Word!
      What does “The Good Shepherd” do? He sacrifices Himself for His straying sheep. Oh, the great mystery of the Gospel. God planned in Christ, before the foundations of this world were laid, to rescue us through the sacrifice of His only begotten Son on Calvary. The Holy Spirit teaches, 2Co 5:21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. The Good Shepherd, didn’t come to be served, but to serve giving His sinless life as a ransom for sinners.
      Listen! (Jn.10:12-13) The Good Shepherd isn’t an hired hand. He never will abandon His sheep. The wolfish lie is that our world is an accident of chance random processes. Hired hands sacrifice the liberty of sheep before the wolf of climate change. They lie. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, Creator of all things that exist - did not abandon His creation. He cares for His creation through the stewardship of His sheep. They tend and care for the private property entrusted to them.
      Satan doesn’t own the sheep. He seeks to destroy all that God created and blessed as very good. He is the wolf, who masquerades behind the masks of “hired hands.” False teachers promising utopias. False teachers that abandon the sheep to be abused, mutilated, murdered, imprisoned for profit. The false prophets in Ezekiel’s time cared only to “fleece the flock.” Their popular lies hardened the people to sell themselves into seventy years of slavery in Babylon. Jesus promises to the exiles in Babylon, that He is the Good Shepherd, He has not abandoned them. He will seek them out, save them, gathering them into His Church to feed on life giving food. Beware of religious hucksters, hirelings, who sell you to the wolf to profit themselves - they turn your eyes away from Jesus to trust in them, or in yourselves, your feelings, your works, your thinking - then abandon you to hell.
    Listen! (Jn. 10:14-15) Hired hands flee from you when the wolf comes. Satan, your conscience, the world rightly accuse you - “You are a Sinner!” “You haven’t done enough good!” “You haven’t given up enough sins!” “You have no right to be called a child of God!” “Death and hell are all you deserve!” “Abandon all hope!” Say to them all, ‘You are right, but here is a greater word than all your accusations, “I know my own.” Jesus, my Good Shepherd, knows me. He knows my every sinful thought, words, and deeds. He knows me better than I know myself. He knows my burdens, grief, and the lies that trap me. He knows me perfectly. Instead of being repulsed by my sin - He lays down His life for me, for you, for all His straying sheep.
    You know Him! His voice breathed forth His Life giving Spirit baptizing you into His Father’s love forever knitting you into His death and resurrection. His voice breathes forth the Comforter every Sunday speaking, “I forgive you all your sins!” You know Him! He preaches His Word and doctrine within His Church through the men He has called, ordained, and sent. You know Him! For He never abandons sinners - He calls them through His Word. In Jesus, the Good Shepherd, you know God the Father. He is the True Father. He is Love- He gifts you salvation in the flesh and blood of His only begotten Son. Jesus freely lays down His life for the sheep. As you view His life, His cross, His death, His grave, His resurrection, His ascension, His enthronement to rule over all, His coming again to judge - write over all of it, “FOR ME!” He has done it all for us and our salvation.  
    How can I be certain this is for me? He brings me into the fortress of His Church. He anoints me to be His own beloved child with the life giving oil of Holy Baptism. He places a feast before me - the cup of salvation He earned by laying down His life for my sins - now runs over with forgiveness, life, and salvation placed upon my sinful lips. Feasting on the Good Shepherd, I depart in peace - redeemed, restored, forgiven.
      He dies for me. He rises for me. He has sought me out! Listen! (Jn. 10:16) Us gentiles were not a people of God, but He has sent forth His Word to call us by grace to be His own. He lays down His life for us sinful sheep on the cross, three days later He took up His life again forever reconciling sinners to their heavenly Father, forty days later He ascends to fill all creation as True Man and True God, fifty days after His resurrection He sends forth His Holy Spirit to gather His Flock - the Church - through men preaching to us this good news.
    You are here this morning, because He has never abandoned sinners like me and you. From eternity He elected to save you through the foolishness of the message of the cross preached. From generation to generation He has called, ordained, and sent faithful men - pastors- shepherds to gather you here. Tuesday, He will call, Daniel one of our members, to follow Him into the office as shepherd. Like Jesus, Daniel, will lay down his life for the sheep preaching the Word of the Good Shepherd, leading them by the still waters of baptismal grace, and feeding them on the living pastures of Christ’s body and blood. He will use Daniel to call the straying back to the Shepherd and Overseer of their souls.  
      Daniel isn’t the only one called by the Good Shepherd to care for the straying sheep. You also called to chase the straying sheep and lambs from our congregation with Christ’s goodness and mercy. Admonish, invite, encourage them to return here in regular worship to the Shepherd and Overseer of their souls. The Good Shepherd Jesus calls them through you from their sin, depression, hopelessness to look to Him. Speak to them the precious promise of our Good Shepherd! “Joh 10:27-30 My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (28) And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. (29) My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father's hand. (30) I and My Father are one."   They may have been faithless, He is faithful - He cannot deny Himself! Alleluia! Christ is risen! Amen.

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