Today Jesus says, “I know my own.” Jesus knows you. Can there be a more troubling thought? For you do not really let anybody know you. Your spouse does not know your secret thoughts. You do not tell your parents everything that happened at school. Your friends and coworkers do not know what you've said about them behind their backs. No man knows you – not really. There are things that you will never tell, thoughts you will never share, shame you will always hide.
And yet Jesus knows. Jesus knows all your secrets and shame. There is no hiding from Jesus.
So repent. It's no good putting on disguises. Jesus sees right through them. So give up. Turn yourself in: admit that the you that is underneath your mask is really you. Admit that Jesus knows you and that there are things he knows you wish he didn't. Turn away from disguises and hiding and come to the Good Shepherd.
For behold: Jesus knows his own, and his own know Jesus. What do his own know about Jesus that makes it alright that Jesus knows them? They know that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. They know that they have all gone astray like sheep, but yet they know that the Good Shepherd has laid down his life for the sheep. O beloved sheep of the Good Shepherd: know Jesus. For Jesus loves you. No matter how sheepish you have been, no matter the shame holding you back and stealing your breath and making you afraid: the Good Shepherd loves you like this: The Shepherd, the good One, laid down His life for you. Jesus himself has taken that shame from you. Jesus himself, the Shepherd of the Sheep, has become the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world by being led like a sheep to slaughter.
Yes, we all like sheep have gone astray, each to his own way. And long ago the wolves of sin, death, and the devil should have devoured us. For that is what it means to be a sheep: to be weak and destined for destruction. To be sheered and slaughtered is a sheep's lot in life and death. And that devouring wolf, the devil, was just licking his chops to get at you. But behold, the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The Lamb of God gives himself over to the wolves. Sin and death and hell and the devil are allowed to have their way with Jesus. But look again, this Lamb of God, this Sheep who is the Shepherd led to slaughter has outwitted them by laying down his life. Jesus is too much for them. They gorge themselves on this Lamb of God and find that this meal shall be their last. The grave swallowed up the Lamb of God – and with Him, all your sins and shame which Jesus bore in his body on the tree – but this mutton turned hell's stomach inside out and was forced to expel the Lamb of God after three short days.
And thus, the Lamb of God defeated death and hell and sin and the devil and left them in the grave while Himself rising that he might be the Good Shepherd and feed his lambs. And how Jesus takes care of you, His lamb! Jesus leaves nothing to chance. For He, the Lord in the flesh, is your Good Shepherd. You shall not want for anything. How could you? Jesus gives you all things: Jesus leads you into green pastures to Baptism's still waters – where he plunges you in to restore your soul and wash you clean and make you his. Jesus leads you in the paths of his righteousness – for his own Name's sake Jesus forgives you your sin and gives you the righteousness he earned for you as he speaks his Word of Absolution to you. Indeed, though you walk through the valley of the shadow of death, you need not fear any evil. For Jesus is with you: for he can never leave you. Jesus' rod and staff, the cross beams of the crucifix, with which the Father struck the Shepherd of Israel, that rod and staff, they comfort you. By Jesus' stripes you are healed. By Jesus' death you have life. Jesus prepares a table for you in the presence of your enemies. Right here in the valley of the shadow of death, with fear and shame and disease and loneliness all around here, even here Jesus prepares for you a Table where you may receive the fruits of his cross, where you may receive the very Shepherd of the sheep, where you may feast on the body which bore your iniquity, where your cup runs over with the blood which makes the covenant of peace between you and God. Surely, goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life. Be filled with the very body and blood of the Good Shepherd. And you, who eat the Shepherd's body and drink the Shepherd's blood, the Lord shall raise up on the last day. And you shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.