Third Sunday of Easter - Confirmation Day - April 30, 2017
Grace and mercy to Krystol, Xander, C.J., Alex, and Crew on this your confirmation day, to your parents and grandparents, guests, visitors, and to the bad and the good gathered before God our Father this morning. Grace and mercy to your from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.
It is written, Jesus says, "I AM the Good Shepherd".
Let us pray: Gracious Father, You sent your only begotten Son Jesus Christ to be our Good Shepherd. Thank you for Shepherding Krystol, Xander, C.J., Alex and Crew throughout their lives and to this day. Continue to Shepherd us with the Shepherd, the Good One, Jesus Christ so that we may be brought into Your fold and remain with You for eternity; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord. Amen.
A quick announcement for your comfort. You are not the future of the Christ's church. Just like your parents and grandparents before you, you are not the future of Christ's church. No, the future of Christ's church is Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.
It is written, KJV John 10:11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
This verse - by itself - says so much.
I AM - this is not simply identification, but Jesus revealing Himself as the I AM of the Burning Bush in Exodus 3. He is God, the Word Incarnate. The I AM sermons in John (unique to the Fourth Gospel) are special messages to us about Jesus and His relationship to the Father. Likewise, when Jesus said "I AM" to the frightened disciples when He walked on the water, He was not saying, "It's me," but "I AM God."
The Good Shepherd is also a special construction. Literally, it is "I AM the Shepherd the Good One." The word for good here is stronger in Greek – something like the noble One. In this combination it means:
The Ultimate Shepherd, or
The Unique Shepherd, or
The Shepherd above all shepherds.
We have used the Good Shepherd so much in English that everyone knows what that means, and no hip translation can replace what is familiar to us through readings, paintings, and stained glass.
We see in religious art the Shepherd guiding His flock with His staff (Psalm 23) or holding a lamb in His Arms (Isaiah 40).
The second part of the verse defines what it means for Jesus to be the Good Shepherd - He gives His life for the sheep.
The preaching of the Gospel is the solemn proclamation of the Atonement, the shedding of blood, which was predicted as early as Genesis 3:15 and clearly taught in Isaiah 53.
The message of the Atonement is simply this. Jesus died for the sins of the world. Krystol, Xander, C.J. Alex and Crew – you are part of the world, therefore Jesus has made atonement for your sins. This sermon plants and sustains faith in the hearts of those who listen attentively to it. Some scoff and do not listen. Others listen and believe for a short time. Others listen and remain in faith until they build idols in their hearts to worship - in place of God. The last group can disguise themselves within the visible church as believers, but their actions and decisions betray their lack of faith in Jesus Christ.
16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.
Christ Jesus brings sheep into the fold - you do not. If you teach the Gospel as it is, without watering it down or sugar-coating it, the elect sheep hear Jesus' voice and come to hear more. Why do people not come to hear Jesus? Because they hate Jesus. It is not more complicated than that.
Jesus never said the true Church would be large in size. Luther often mentioned, "The Gospel is thinly sown."
There is a hymn, which we just sang, entitled - Fear Not Little Flock - but notice, there is no hymn called "Fear Not, Mega-Flock."
To Krystol, Xander, C.J., Alex, and Crew: throughout your lives you will meet many false shepherds who will tell you what to do to grow the church. You will meet false shepherds who will tell to pitch your Small Catechism, pitch your hymnal, maybe even pitch your Holy Bible.
And yet, you are Baptized and you believe what you have been taught. Jesus is the future of His church. Listen to Him and do not be afraid.