Roger's Postings

Friday, May 01, 2009

John 10: 11-18. Jesus only good leader/carer!! 3/5/09

(11) "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. {12} The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. {13} The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. {14} "I am the good shepherd; 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."
Here this morning we have another very good reminder; another very important message for us all. That is that Jesus is the good shepherd: the only good and true leader and carer for humanity: the only one who has our overall interests in mind: The only one who really knows and loves us; and the only one who willingly lays down his own life so that we all may have life in all its fullness. The alternative is put to us as well here, that there are other leaders: other hired hands and self-appointed gurus and experts. But Jesus reminds us; where are they when we need them most all? Gone! Run for their lives! Looking after their own skins.
Think about these leaders and gurus of our day for a minute. This would have to be one of the most frightening aspects of our modern society, and we are becoming more and more aware of this problem as the years go by. Today there are countless numbers of people who are putting themselves into the hands of all kinds of weird people and their ideas. And sadly many within the Christian church as well. Clairvoyancy, Satanism and witchcraft, astrology, crystals and other lucky charms, tarot cards, and I could go on and on. These things abound today, and you would be surprised at who turns to these things for help or play. Then you have the new age movement, meditation, new age medicine in many different forms, and the like. There are countless numbers of these things that are being promoted as being good and helpful to us – the sorts of things we need if we are going to get on in the world and be happy. But we are reminded here, that they are hired hands. In fact, many of them are more than that; they are agents of Satan himself. He has dressed many of these things up in sheep's clothing – sugar coated them so that in the initial stages they look good, but we need to remember that ultimately he is only out to scatter and kill: to destroy you and others. So do not play around in those areas.

In another area of life there other leaders that we look up to also: the intellectuals, educators, financiers and big business people, and the like. Here too we need to be careful in listening to what they are saying and where they are trying to lead us. There are many who are seeking to take us down a path that will ultimately lead to great difficulty and heartache. They are promoting their own ideas as being the answer. But what happens when it turns sour – the promoters of it run for their life and leave those who have taken it on board to carry the responsibility: [just look at many of our leading financiers today] they leave you and I to pay the debt. And there are many in this area who are pushing Christ and Christianity aside as being of no use, and who are even trying to stop our voice from being heard.
But perhaps the most dangerous in this area, are coming from within the church itself. There are many who are standing up and professing that they have the answers: they have the gift: they have the Spirit. They are leading people to place their trust in their ideas and philosophies: their ability to perform miracles: their way of making the Church grow, and the like. But again, they are focussing our attention on what we do, and on human abilities: on what we have to do in order be acceptable: on how we can be happy and have a positive self-image: on how we must pray, or how we must run our Services, structure our church and the like.

But they too are hired hands. I am a hired hand too for that matter. And they and I will let you down. When the pressure is on, we will fail; anyone, or anything, that points to the individual and what we must do will fail. Any teaching that is not of the truth of God’s Word and leads us to faith in Jesus Christ is dangerous. Using Bible passages to simply say what we think will lead us into trouble.
There is only one voice that you and I, or anyone for that matter, can rely on and not be let down, and that is Jesus Christ himself. He alone is our Good Shepherd – the true leader and carer of us all. To him we must listen and follow. For he is the only one who really knows what is good for us, and who truly loves and cares for us. He after all is the One who laid down his life for our benefit. He of his own accord gave his life into death for our salvation. He did not run for cover when the going got tough; leaving us to do the best we can. He willingly went to the cross: and there he said, ‘It is finished! Then gave up spirit.’ Yes, even there on the cross he was in control. And to prove it beyond doubt, he rose from the dead three days later.

So there in Jesus we have One who does have real know-how and authority: One who has the answers to life and death, and whose love was perfect and beyond doubt. This love and authority of his, is also here for us today and everyday. It is seen most of all in the mess of life - in the hardships and pain that we go through.

It is there in the midst of the selfishness and sin of life - when we are hurting and others are hurting, that we now hear another voice: The voice of this One who has all authority in heaven and on earth. Whenever sin and death rises up to condemn us and push us to despair: Whenever our selfishness wrecks our life and messes things up for us: Whenever we are hurt, fall or feel sorry for ourselves and seem to be all alone and that no one cares; there now is Jesus and his message of real hope. There he says to us – ‘No! Sin, death, failure and all the rest, don't have the final say in your life any more - I do!’ ‘Remember you are mine. I died for you. By my authority, you came into God's family through baptism, and you now have this new life that I gave you there. I do have the answers to life and how it should be lived: in my Word, I show you what is important and valuable, and where to find help, hope, love and so much more. It is by my authority now that you can come and go and know that in the ups and downs of life, you have my love and the certainty of eternal salvation, and no one and nothing can take it away from you.’

And because of Jesus’ death and resurrection, we know that this is for real: that this word of his can be relied on. These are not empty promises; like that of the leaders and gurus of our day. Everything he has said has turned out to be true and good and helpful. The cross and the empty tomb are our guarantee of his love and power for us today and everyday: and our baptism and the Lord’s Supper is our constant reassurance that we are connected to Jesus and all that he has won for us.

So there is no need for us to look to and follow these other gurus that seek to lead us down paths that may well look OK at the time and promise us much, we know that they are not right for us whenever they say things which go against the truth of God’s Word and turn our focus away from the Lord Jesus Christ and his death on the cross for the forgiveness of sins. We know that more than likely they will desert us when the going gets tough, and will not live up to their promises, and they certainly will not lead us to the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation that is ours through our Lord Jesus Christ. Instead, we can constantly and confidently lift our eyes and put our trust in the Lord Jesus Christ the only true Good Shepherd. In him, there is no human frailty or satanic deception.

Jesus Christ alone has the answers; the love, and power and authority. He is our true leader to whom we can look up to with certainty and confidence. So let us go forward with this knowledge and assurance, trusting Jesus Christ the Good Shepherd to lead us and guide us always. To him alone be all glory and honour, now and forever. AMEN.

Pastor Roger Atze
Glandore/Underdale Lutheran Parish


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