St. John's & Zion Lutheran Churches

Jesus Is Your Good Shepherd

Confirmation on John 10:27&28

Text: My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.

When trying to decide a sermon text for today, I was looking over various options and I ran across this text from John 10. I realized that today is the fourth Sunday in the Easter season, which is called the Good Shepherd Sunday. I thought, “How perfect.” Many Christians hold the picture of the Good Shepherd as near and dear to their hearts. Many turn to the Psalm 23 for comfort in times of distress or hurt. So, I decided to use this text for today’s confirmation service. Coincidentally, Jordan had chosen as her confirmation verse another verse from John 10: “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” (John 10:14) Today, as you get ready to make your confirmation vows, I want to remind you that JESUS IS YOUR GOOD SHEPHERD. 1. You Have Heard His Voice. 2. Continue To Follow Him.

Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice.” (Verse 28) As his sheep, we have heard his voice as it is recorded in the words of the Bible. What is it that our Good Shepherd has told us? First of all, he spoke words of warning to us. He spoke the law. He showed us all of the ways that we have failed to do what God demands of us. During our classes, as we studied the Ten Commandments, we saw all of the ways that we sin against God. There are the times that we have made people or things more important to us than God. We have not always done our best to gladly hear God’s Word and learn it. We have said things that have hurt other people. We have not always been content with what God has given to us. The list goes on and on of the ways that we have sinned against God. So, our Good Shepherd speaks the law to us. He does not do so because he hates us. As a matter of fact, it is the exact opposite. He wants to wake us up so that we see our sins and the result of those sins which is an eternity of punishment apart from God.

How thankful we are that this is not the only message that comes from our Good Shepherd’s lips. For example, he says in Matthew 11:28&29, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” The rest that Jesus is offering is not just taking a break in the middle of some hard work. The rest that he offers is the forgiveness of sins. He is able to offer it, because he earned it. He came to this earth to live a perfect life in our place. He did what we could not do. Then, he took all of our sins and carried them to the cross. Through his suffering and death, he paid for every single sin that we have ever committed. Then, as we celebrated a few weeks ago, Jesus rose from the dead, which assures us that our sins have been forgiven and that eternal life is ours. This is the comforting message that our Good Shepherd speaks to us.

Through the washing of Holy Baptism, you were made a part of the Good Shepherd’s flock. By his grace, you have heard your Good Shepherd. This year, instead of having a public examination, I had Jordan and Alena write an essay on the three articles of the Apostles Creed. Not only were they to tell me what was taught in each article, but also they were to write what each article meant to them. Listen to some of what they wrote. In writing about the Second Article, which speaks of the work of the Son of God, our Savior, Jesus, Jordan wrote, “He saved me from becoming a lost and condemned creature and won me from all my sins. He didn’t save me from sins by his words but with his blood and suffering which shows that he really cares about me and everyone else.” In her comment about the Third Article, which deals with the work of the Holy Spirit, Alena wrote, “Even though I know I am a sinner, God declared me to be righteous since Jesus paid for our sins.” By God’s grace, we see that our Good Shepherd has spoken to Jordan and Alena, bringing them to trust in him as their only hope for salvation.

Our Good Shepherd continues, “I know them.” (Verse 28) What a comforting thought that is! At times, it may seem as though we are just another face in the crowd. No one sees us. No one knows us. No one cares about us. However, our Good Shepherd knows us. He knows what is happening to us. He knows the tough times we may be facing. He knows when the way is dark or rough. He knows us and cares for us personally. Even if it seems as though all have deserted us and no one cares, Jesus, your Good Shepherd does. As your Good Shepherd, you can count on him to take care of you. David speaks with that same confidence in Psalm 23, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters . . . Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:2&3)

Then, Jesus says, “They follow me.” (Verse 27) This refers to more than following wherever Jesus leads us in life, confident that he will always lead us in the way that is the best for us. This involves obediently following him. In a few moments, you will be making some vows before God and this congregation. One of them is in response to this question, “Do you intend to continue steadfast in this teaching and to endure all things, even death, rather than fall away from it?” Think of what you are promising to do. You are making a vow to God that you will continue to believe what you have learned for the rest of your life. You won’t allow anything, not even death or the threat of it, to turn you aside from what you have learned. Then, you will be asked, “Do you intend faithfully to conform all your life to the teachings of God’s Word, to be faithful in the use of the Word and sacrament, and in faith and action remain true to God — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — as long as you live?” What will you be promising to do? You are promising that you are going to lead a life that is in conformity with God’s will. You are making a vow to God that you will be regular in church attendance, reception of the Lord’s Supper, and remain faithful to God for the rest of your lives. This is what it means when Jesus speaks of his sheep following him. Those are some gigantic vows that you will be making. How will you ever be able to keep them?

The fact is, if you try to lean on your own strength, you will fail. The devil is going to come at you with all sorts of different voices, some in higher education, some in the world in which we live, some in the form of your friends, saying “Follow me.” Where will you find the strength to say “No” to all of these voices and “Yes” to following your Good Shepherd? That strength can only come from God. The verse that Alena chose as her confirmation verse reminds us, “Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5&6) Trust in the Lord. Let him lead you. Follow him in thanksgiving for all that he has done for you.

Finally, our Good Shepherd points us to the prize that he has waiting for those who are of his flock, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” (Verse 28) Our Good Shepherd gives eternal life. This is nothing that any of us deserved. As we noted earlier, by nature, we are wandering sheep. We would have been helplessly and hopelessly lost for all eternity. However, our Good Shepherd came to the earth for one purpose, and that was to save us. He wanted us to spend our eternity with him in heaven and nothing was going to stop him from carrying out that mission. He wanted you to be with him in heaven, so he came to the earth to be your Savior. He made you a part of his flock the day that you were baptized. Our Good Shepherd also gives this assurance: “No one will snatch them out of my hand.” Yes, the devil will muster all of his fury to try to pull you away from your Good Shepherd. Yet, Jesus is more powerful than the devil is. He will keep you safe with him as you walk through this earth until you reach the joy, peace, and comfort of heaven. You can echo the confidence of King David as he concludes Psalm 23, “Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23:6)

Alena, Jordan, today is a very special day for you. You will stand before God and make some very important promises. Yet, they are also ones that you are glad to make, too. You will promise to be faithful to your Good Shepherd, who loved you so much that he laid down his life for you. He was called you to be part of his flock. Continue to listen to his loving voice. Follow him wherever he may lead you, knowing that he will lead you along paths that are the best for you. Live in eager anticipation of dwelling with your Good Shepherd forever. Amen.