Acts 4:23-33

Psalm 23

1 John 3:1-2

John 10:11-18



“The Self-Sacrificing Shepherd”


Grace and Peace to you my brothers and sisters in Christ, Amen.


        Here on Catawba Island we have a Volunteer Firemen force. Any of you can join. In fact I have a recruitment sheet in my office in case any wish to volunteer. They meet every Monday to conduct training, to prep the vehicles and make sure all is in order. If anything was to happen and they are in need they are at the ready. They get no pay, they are not hired hands, but are purely giving up their time and service for the sake of the community. The job they do have the potential of being very dangerous, this they are already aware of, but for the sake of the community they are willing to courageously tackle the danger in order to save those in need. They don’t needlessly give up their lives, but they are willing to put themselves in harm’s way in order to preserve the lives of others. They won’t run away, they won’t cower in fear when the rising heat of a treacherous fire rears its ugly face as it attempts to devoir both life and property. And again, they do all this as volunteers.


        Do not be mistaken, for I am not disparaging hired firemen, that is not my intention, but what I am doing is pointing out the selfless, the self-sacrificing, service of one who is willing to face danger in order to protect others, no matter who that person may be. They are very much like the Good Shepherd who is Jesus, and not at all like the hired hand who runs away when faced with danger.


        So who is the hired hand? They are the ones who say I was hired for a particular thing, only thinking about their self-preservation, to include getting the money needed to put food on the table. When faced with trouble, trouble that might jeopardize their potential to continue receiving money they buckle, they collapse in fear, they run away. They are not invested in the preservation of others. So when the decision between self-preservation and preserving others must be made, they will always choose to preserve themselves. They are not working for the sake of others out of love toward these others; they are not working for the sake of others because they have invested every tear, drop of sweat, and blood into them. There is no sense of belonging or servitude or honor or duty or leadership. They care only for themselves. So when trouble happens, they will avoid such trouble out of selfishness.


        The hired hand was hired to take care of the sheep, but that is all. The hired hand doesn’t truly care for the sheep, all they care about is the money involved in caring for the sheep. Thus, when the wolves come will the hired hand lay down his life to protect the sheep or will he run? No sane person would willing give up their life for sheep unless love their sheep so much that they were already willing to give up everything, even life itself, for the Sheep. And this is the Good Shepherd.


        The Good Shepherd knows His sheep and His sheep know Him. He does not work for money, but works for the sheep because the sheep is the source of His joy. The sheep are not His servants, but He is a servant to the sheep. His joy is found in being with the sheep and knowing that His sheep are safe and secure and well fed and at peace. Thus when the wolves comes which jeopardizes the safety of the flock, out of concern for the sheep’s safety, the Good Shepherd fights until the danger to the sheep is no more.


        Jesus is our Good Shepherd and we are His sheep, and we know that we can have faith in the security and the peace and the providence that comes from Him alone. We are assured of this because Jesus already died for us. Here’s the thing, a Good Shepherd is willing to die for His sheep; well we know with certainty that Jesus has indeed already lay down His life for the sake of us His flock. For the wolf that came in the middle of the night, coming to rear its terrible head at us defenseless sheep, for by ourselves we are defenseless, was Satan Himself, with the wolf known as sin on his right side and the wolf known as damnation on his left. They came to devour us, but Jesus who is just and righteous stood in front of us and confronted the enemy. He is our defense, our mighty fortress. Well, he took on the old satanic foe, and in battle, he won victoriously. Yet the battle he was involved in had a cost, and that was death itself. Jesus willingly gave up His life to save us. Jesus died. Yet it was through His death that the enemy was conquered. But lest you believe that the enemy won as well by putting Jesus to death, our Lord and savior rose, and is once again at the gateway guarding His sheep, defending us, alive and well.


        There may be devilish hordes that fill the land, all threatening to devoir us, but because we know that Jesus will defend us no matter what, is willing to die for us, as we have proof of this, we tremble not, no, but instead unmoved we stand, for they cannot overpower us. In order for them to overpower us, the demons need to first get through Jesus. But Jesus will win. So us sheep can look upon our Good Shepherd with peace of mind knowing that in Him, all is well. Have faith in Christ, and graze in the pasture greens safe and secure from all alarms.


        Now there is only one flock and one shepherd. The hired hands are not shepherds, only the Good Shepherd is the shepherd. And there are many sheep out there who are of the shepherd but not in the flock yet. The Good Shepherd is currently searching for these lost little sheep, who suffer the fears of not knowing when they might get attacked and devoured. The Good Shepherd finds them and brings them under fold, into the one and only true flock, defending them from the evil wolves that prowl in the darkness. Now there is only one true flock because there is only one true shepherd. The sheep that are led by hired hands are not a true flock but are being led astray with a false sense of security, for when the wolves descend upon them, their hired hand will run away and the supposed flock will be destroyed. Thus there is only one true flock because only a Good Shepherd will defend the sheep from wolves, and there is only one Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ our Lord.


        Nothing on earth can protect you from the devilish wolves. Nothing on earth can protect you from Hell. No earthly made schemes, no crafty philosophical arguments, no worldly desires or means, no man-made gods, no fake religions or human spirituality, no man-made traditions, no institutions or governmental laws, no good-intentions, no gold or pearls, no possessions, no nothing can protect you except for Jesus Christ alone. This is why Jesus is the one and only Good Shepherd, for only Jesus can protect you from the wolves that will devour you. Only Jesus can give you the reassurance and peace of mind associated with protection. Only Jesus can promise you safety. Why? Because He has already proven it through His death!


        All these other precautions that we ourselves hired in order to protect us little sheep cannot hope to win against the wolves, in fact some of these hired hands might be themselves wolves in sheep clothing, or rather shepherd clothing. Believing you are born already good, wolf in shepherd clothing. Believing you are born with the Holy Spirit already within you and thus baptism should wait until after professing faith, wolf in shepherd clothing. Believing in the sanctity that comes from humanity, aka human narcissism, wolf in shepherd clothing. These and many more are misguided beliefs that make us think we are safe and secure, but in all reality protects us the same way a nerf gun would protect you if a tommy gun wielding mafioso invaded your house.


        Nothing except for Jesus can protect you. Plus he is not hired; in fact he was our shepherd since the beginning of time, already wielding authority and a willingness of His own accord to give up His life. He did not give it up because some contract was formed. We didn’t demand Him to die for us. We didn’t search for him like some employer and give him a sheet to sign saying that He must serve us. We did not create him, we have no authority over him, we do not force him into servitude. Instead, He who has authority over us, chose to serve us and chose to give himself up for us and chose to die for us and chose to rise again to continually protect us. This is why He and only He is our Good Shepherd, our champion, our Lord, our savior, our Mighty Fortress; this I can say is most certainly true.


Let us pray,


        Dear Heavenly Father, there are many false gods and things propped up by humans pretending to be protectors scattered throughout the earth. Give us the wisdom to know that all these are worthless when the Devil comes, for against the Devil, we and all these things will surely fail. Instead help us to look towards with peace and faith and joy and hope toward the Good Shepherd who has already defeated the Devil and will continue to fight by our side, protecting us from all the evil that assails us. We pray in your most holy name, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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