Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church
10653 N – 550 W
Decatur, IN 46733
A 21st Century Parish with a 1st Century Faith
Chartered February 25, 1838
Celebration of 174th Year
29 April 2012
“How good it is to know the Good Shepherd”
Lord Jesus Christ, shepherd of Your church, You give us new birth in the waters of baptism; You anoint us with oil, and call us to salvation at Your table. Dispel the terrors of death and the darkness of error. Lead Your people along safe paths that they may rest securely in You and dwell in the house of the Lord now and forever, for Your name’s sake.
Today is Good Shepherd Sunday. As a result, the Psalm, the Gospel lesson, and all four hymns selected for today deal with Jesus our Good Shepherd. Our text for today, Psalm 23 is fondly called the Shepherd’s Psalm.
Psalm 23 is by far the world’s most beloved psalm. Students are taught to memorize it at Wyneken. It is shared with the suffering and prayed over those who are dying. In almost every Christian funeral, it is included as one of the readings. It is one of the most requested and cherished passages of Scripture.
Why is it that Psalm 23 is so popular and loved? I would suggest that this Psalm connects with people who are buffeted, battered, and broken by the hard knocks of life. This Psalm speaks of God’s love, care, mercy and comfort – just what we need in a tough heartless world. David reminds us how good it is to know Jesus as our Good Shepherd. David gives us three realities by which we can live in security no matter what may come our way. We can say with David “Because Jesus is my Shepherd –
Ø I shall not want
Ø I will fear no evil
Ø I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever
David speaks of the great care that God takes for believers. He is their shepherd; that we may call Him so.
I. Because Jesus is your Good Shepherd, you shall not want!
A. He gives you Rest - “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures” He feeds and supplies you with rest. Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30: "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, 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 shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My load is light." (NAS)
B. He gives you Peace -“He leadeth me besides the still waters...” Jesus says in John 14:27: "Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” (NASB) Again, in John 16:33 the Good Shepherd reminds us: "These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world." (NASB)
C. He gives you Forgiveness – “He restoreth my soul” In this Easter season, we rejoice as Christ has overcome the powers of sin, death and the power of the devil. Because of the cross and empty tomb there now remains for us forgiveness, life and salvation. Paul reminds us in 2Corinthians 5:19: “...that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” (NIV)
D. He gives you Guidance – “He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake” With the hymn writer we pray: “Lord, take my hand and lead me upon life’s way; direct, protect and feed me From day to day. Without your grace and favor I go astray; so take my hand, O Savior, and lead the way.” [LSB 722 # stanza 1]
Transition: Soon you’ll be taking off for Washington DC. You’ll tour the FDR memorial. As America braced itself for a grueling and difficult Second World War President Roosevelt reassured the public reminding them, “the only thing we need to fear is fear itself.” With Jesus as your Good Shepherd, we are never in want. With Jesus as your Good Shepherd, you will not fear!
II. Because Jesus is your Good Shepherd, you will fear no evil.
A. With Jesus as your Good Shepherd, there is Companionship – “Thou art with me” The Savior walks with you. He accompanies us and attends to our every need. You are never alone. He remains with us to sustain and direct our every step along life’s road.
B. With Jesus as your Good Shepherd, there is Comfort – “Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me” We live in the midst of many dangers in our road. Life can get downright frightening at times. When we need aid and comfort, the Good Shepherd supports us. “Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide; The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide. When other helpers fail and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me!" [LSB #878 “Abide with Me!” stanza 1]
C. With Jesus as your Good Shepherd, there is Concern – “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies. Thou anoitest my head with oil my cup runneth over” Jesus has promised us He will provide us with all that we need to support this body and life. You know these words, “He defends me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil. He does this purely out of fatherly, divine goodness and mercy, without any merit or worthiness in me. For all this it is my duty to thank and praise, to serve and obey Him.”
Transition: This is most certainly true! He provides for you in this life. I shall not in want. There is nothing to fear. He will certainly sustain you until you reach your home in heaven.
III. Because Jesus is your Good Shepherd, I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
A. He is with you Now – “Goodness and mercy shall follow me...” Goodness is defined as His good pleasure, His desires for you. God's goodness consists of righteousness, holiness, justice, kindness, grace, and love. Mercy is that aspect of God's love that causes Him to help the miserable, just as grace is that aspect of His love that moves Him to forgive the guilty. David reminds us that the Shepherd’s goodness, mercy along with His grace will accompany us every day of our life.
B. You will be with Him Forever–life eternal has been promised to you “...and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever” Our future is secure when we are safely in the hands of the Good Shepherd. We are secure in this life. We have a destiny to dwell with Him forever in glory.
Jesus is your Good Shepherd. Listen to His words in today’s Gospel lesson: "I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep”. (John 10:14-15)
Remember the things that we taught you, cling to that which is good and remember that the Savior walks with you every day. “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear – the Lord is the stronghold of my life of whom shall I be afraid?”