The Sunday Sermon – “Jesus, the Good Shepherd”
Sermon Text: John 10:1-10//Easter 4-A
+ In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
I wonder if anyone here has ever hung out with a flock of sheep. I mean, honestly went down to a sheep farm and spent time with the sheep and their shepherd.
When I was a little kid, my dad used to take me to the dairy farm that was a mile down the road. I used to have fun by going up to the calf stalls and letting the baby cows suck my thumb.
There was one time, I vaguely remember, on a school field trip to a living history museum in which we I saw a sheep sheered for its wool.
And I also have memories of my school bus driving by a sheep farm on the way to school, but I never got closer than my school bus seat.
My point is, I think, that when we hear the metaphors and imagery this morning that Jesus is the Good Shepherd or we hear that he is the Sheep Gate and that we are his sheep, you and I have a tough time understanding the nuances which Jesus’ original audience two thousand years ago would have understood.
So, as I was preparing what I was to say to this morning, I found myself in quite the conundrum. In Jesus’ day, his disciples would have had a lot more contact with sheep and with shepherds. But even with their familiarity, they seemed to not understand exactly what Jesus was trying to tell them.
I thought to myself, “Gosh, if they had trouble understanding Jesus imagery as the good shepherd, and they were familiar with sheep and knew the ways of shepherds, what chance do you and I have to understand the meaning of his words?”
So, I began to think to myself, it seems like all the preachers I’ve ever met have a sheep story to tell on Good Shepherd Sunday, maybe I should go out to a sheep farm and see if I couldn’t get my own sheep story to tell.
But as I was getting ready to Google “sheep farms near Warrensburg”, I was reminded by the Holy Spirit, that despite our lack of knowledge of sheep farmers, each of us have experiences with real life shepherds in our life.
A shepherd is one who protects and guards; one who cares for, looks after; who feeds and nourishes; who leads along right pathways.
I wonder, and I’m sure it’s true, that if you think back on your life, you have people in your life who fit this description of a shepherd.
Shepherds are people who have mentored you, people who have Loved you despite knowing who you are, and helped you along the path of your life’s journey to lead you to where you are today.
Whether that person was a parent, or a relative, a mentor, a priest or pastor, a really good friend, someone you worked with, or even an adopted second parent, these are people whose voice you’ve followed, whose voice you’ve cherished.
You see, shepherds come to us in all parts of our life. They don’t need a title or position.
These little shepherds in our lives, who’ve watched over us, cared for us, fed us and nourished us through our lives are given to us by God.
And he gives them to us as examples. Examples of what it means to love and be loved.
In their own way, these shepherds in our life demonstrate to us in real and concrete ways the great qualities of our Lord.
When we experience love from these earthly shepherds, we have an experience of the love which God has for you and for me.
When they have shown us a truth about living this life, guiding us down the right path, we learn of what it means to have Jesus as the way, the truth, and the life.
When they have fed and nourished us in mind, body, and spirit, we gain insight into the great banquet which Jesus the Good Shepherd offers us in the Eucharistic Feast, and in the great heavenly banquet in eternity.
But we also have to consider the otherside of this coin. And that is to remember that our Lord has given us also to be shepherds over those he loves, in our own way.
As parents, grandparents, as mentors, as God-parents, and as co-workers, all of us can think of those whom we have a responsibility to care for and to love.
We need not have an official title to exercise the role of shepherd because our Lord has given us these roles in order to demonstrate to others his love for them.
And because God is asking to do this great work for him, we have a great responsibility to show point those whom he has given us back to him.
All of us are called to be examples of the Good Shepherd. To teach others to know his voice which is his truth and his love. But we cannot bear the image of the Good Shepherd if we don’t first know his voice and his truth.
IN order to share God’s love, we have to know God’s love. In order to share God’s truth, we must know his truth as a reality in our lives.
Following where he leads us, means we first have to be willing to follow him. Desiring to follow means we must know his voice. Knowing his voice means that we must listen for his voice, calling out to us.
As we rejoice in our Lord the Good Shepherd, may we be attentive to his voice and be willing to follow where he leads us. Let us discern his way, which is love, mindful that we are called to be examples and exemplars of his love to those around us.
+IN the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.