MISSION WOODS CHURCH
Worship Sunday April 25 2021
  • Come Into His Presence
  • This Is My Father's World
  • Here I Am , Lord
  • Praise Him Praise Him All You Little Children (Praise Him)
  • Father, I Adore You
  • The challenge we always have with texts in or around the High celebrations of the church, such as Christmas and Easter is their familiarity. One could easily find a text in say Habakkuk, or perhaps Revelation with which most of you would be unfamiliar. Still, the challenge for all of us is to be listening carefully to the texts for today, and especially listening for how they might be connected.
    As we approach God’s Holy Word, lets ask God to open it to us:
    PRAYER
    Father God, we have gathered as sheep of your fold to hear from your voice. Speak to us Father as your dear children. Reveal to us once again the amazing love demonstrated through your Only Son, Jesus, the Christ, our Lord. By the power of your Holy Spirit move us from understanding to action. We pray this all in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, AMEN.
    We’ve already heard from Psalm 23 at the opening of our service, hear now our lectionary readings for the day:
    Our first reading is from the book of Acts recounting John and Peter in the early church:
    Acts 4:5–12 ESV
    On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
    and from the first of John’s pastoral letters:
    1 John 3:16–24 ESV
    By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.
    And finally our Gospel reading from the Gospel of John, chapter 10:
    John 10:11–18 ESV
    I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
    These are all readings from God’s holy Word.
    Thanks be to God.
    Our lectionary Gospel reading begins with the words from Jesus, “I am the good shepherd.” It is not simply “a good shepherd,” No. He describes himself as the Good Shepherd.
    And that fits so well with what we read in the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” We like these sentiments, these are the warm fuzzies for those of us who call ourselves Christian.
    Jesus then, is our leader the shepherd. All leadership must be swallowed up by Jesus as the Good shepherd. If Jesus is not leading the church then the church is not following Jesus and might as well be a social club.
    When Jesus describes himself as that Good Shepherd he does it in three ways:

    Sacrifice

    Having just come through Holy Week and Easter, I think it is safe to assume we understand that Jesus came to earth to die. But wait, Jesus is the shepherd!
    Yes, Jesus is the Shepherd, but he is also a lamb.
    He is the sacrificial lamb that was called for to pay for the sins of the people way back in the Old Testament. Innocent and yet by His blood we would be made right with God again.
    Put yourself in the Gospel here. You are one of Jesus disciples, and your Great Shepherd says to you, “I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
    Remember this is an agrarian culture. This is not going to make sense from the disciples perspective. What does he mean that he “lays down his life for the sheep?” Just a moment ago, we were safe in his fold, where Jesus was telling us “I am the door of the sheep,” (vs. 7). He is the protector and yet he’s laying down his life? How can you win if you don’t fight back?
    If you have your Bibles, look back at vs. 10 before our text today. Jesus says,
    John 10:10 ESV
    The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
    There seems to be something happening here. The thief comes to steal and kill and destroy. Jesus came that they (the sheep) may have life and have it abundantly. Jesus didn’t say, I came to keep your heart beating. He said I cam that you may have life and have it abundantly.
    A second way that Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd is:

    Solidarity and Protection

    Jesus makes it clear that he will always stay with his sheep. He’s not going anywhere. He compares himself to the hired hand in vss. 12 & 13, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. When the hired hand who sees a wolf coming flees and leaves the sheep so the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
    Not so the Good Shepherd, he stays with the sheep.
    The thief is: stealing, killing, destroying, scattering.
    Today in our culture Joy, peace, freedom, hope, and courage are being stolen.
    Jesus invites us to draw near, to be with the shepherd.
    The third way Jesus describes himself as the Good Shepherd is:

    Intimacy

    v. 14, - My sheep Know me and I know them.
    This is an intimate knowledge
    Think of all the ways that we can make mistakes, mess up, hurt ourselves or others, and Jesus response is simply to say, “I know.”
    This “Known-ness” is perhaps the greatest gift. It seems and insignificant statement, yet it is indeed the most significant. Jesus knows HIS sheep. Remember the words of condemnation in Matthew 7:23 and 25:41 “I have never known you.”
    Jesus recognizes his flock. He recognizes us as those who are lost, as sinners who need to receive his grace, and by recognizing us as the forgiven sinners whom he has claimed as his own.

    The Good Shepherd, Jesus

    Jesus as our Shepherd sets the example for all of us. In his first letter, John writes,
    “By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.”

    What does it mean to be one of The Good Shepherd’s own?

    There is a thief, and it is true that the thief is stealing, killing, destroying, and scattering.
    There is much in this world that steals our joy, peace, freedom, hope, and courage. But that’s not the good shepherd.
    Because of the Good Shepherd we shall not want. He makes us lie down in green pastures, he leads us beside the still waters.
    It is the Good Shepherd who restores our soul.
    Are you allowing your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control to be stolen?
    OR
    Are you continuing to follow after The Good Shepherd who set for us the example of laying down his life.
    In our Gospel reading this morning the Good Shepherd is said to know his own.
    He knows those whom He has claimed as his own.
    There are so many clamoring for our attention, and I have people ask me how they can find peace. I think it comes down to reconnecting with the Good Shepherd.
    The average person over 50 in the United States spends 6.5 hours watching television per day according to reports. If you were to take just one of those hours each day and apply it to reading your Bible you’d likely read the Bible cover to cover about once every 90 days.
    The Good Shepherd knows us, the question for us is do we know Jesus?
    And we should differentiate that from “Do we know about Jesus?”
    If I know him, do I follow him?
    Am I doing the things that Jesus did?
    Loving neighbors? Feeding the poor? Tending the sick? Praying? Teaching? Calling others to follow?
    Each one of us can only answer these questions for oneself. My prayer for each of us is that we would know Jesus more intimately each and every day, that you may not only know Him and experience Him in a deeper way, but that his love and power may flow through you to accomplish His work in our world today.
    Almighty God, you sent Jesus, our good shepherd, to gather us together. May we not wander from his flock, but follow wherever he leads us, listening for his voice and staying near him, until we are safely in your fold, to live with you forever; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen .
      • Acts 4:5–12ESV

      • 1 John 3:16–24ESV

      • John 10:11–18ESV

      • John 10:10ESV

  • How Great Thou Art

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