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 your and dwell in the house of the Lord now and forever, for your name’s sake.
Jesus’ parable of the sheep and the goats drives home once again an important point. Namely, that faith is what really makes a person holy. And that your works are for the service of people.
Faith alone saves. But faith that saves is never alone. Works are necessary but never arbitrary. Faith is what makes you a holy person. Works are always done in the interests of the neighbor.
Faith is the hand that reaches up to Christ. Works is the hand that reaches out to help and serve the neighbor in love. You come to a worship service. Then, in service, you support your neighbor.
The difference between the goats and the sheep is not that the sheep were nice and friendly while the goats were mean and insular. The dividing line is not based on the good works and charity and giving money to foreign missions of the sheep, or the lack of civic love and welfare on the part of the goats. NO!
What divides the heaven-dwellers from the prisoners of Hades is Faith. And more precisely, because it is CHRIST for you, in you and with you that sets you on His Right Hand. Jesus said, my sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.-John 10:27 Those who have received Jesus are lambs and sheep. Those who reject Him are goats.
Both sheep and goats forget to realize that it was the Lord. The goats failed to recognize Jesus while the lambs didn't remember serving Jesus either. How so? The lambs did not look to their own works. Rather they looked to the finished work of Christ their Good Shepherd who alone produces works that are accounted as good.
The sheep hear the shepherd’s voice and they follow Him. They are sheep of His fold, lambs of His flock, sinners of His own redeeming. The sheep follow their Shepherd wherever He makes them lie down in green pastures, and leads them besides still waters. He revives their soul and guides them along the right pathway for his Name’s sake. They fear no evil… (Psalm 23)
You were judged in time and in a particular place when you were brought to faith by the Workings of the Holy Ghost, your Lord and Giver of Life. The Spirit takes that which is of Christ, His Word, His Remission, and His Body & Blood and gives it to you. You were judged innocent, once again, at the Font of Forgiveness at the and at the Rail of Righteousness.
You became His when He died for you on Calvary’s cross. Jesus predicted this on the night he was betrayed. Then Jesus said to them, You will all fall away because of me this night. For it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’ –Matthew 26:31
This is what Isaiah predicted when he said, “Surely He took on our infirmities and carried our sorrows; yet we considered Him stricken by God, struck down and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5
Now He is alive. He suffers no more. He is seated at the right hand of the Father. You are in Him. And all that He has - He gives to you as a gift.
As your Good Shepherd He guides and leads you. “He tends His flock like a shepherd; He gathers the lambs in His arms and carries them close to His heart. He gently leads the nursing ewes.” –Isaiah 40:10
Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.” - John 10:27-29
The righteous do not look to their own works. They look to the finished work of Christ who alone can produce works that are accounted as good before the Father.
And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. – John 10:16
These are connected to Christ their good Shepherd which comes only through the gospel; the good news of sins forgiven by the cleansing blood of Christ, shed on Calvary’s cross.
This proclamation is the good news this word needs to hear that the Father has given you for Jesus sake! Christ is your righteousness! Jesus is your life! Jesus is your eternal life. Life that overcomes the grave, even as Jesus rose from the dead that first Easter morning.
On that day, the Shepherd will say, “Come, you who are blessed by my Father inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” You enter only because of Christ the Good Shepherd. He opens the door which allows you to enter into the heavenly mansion in a kingdom which has no end.
So Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of
the sheep. “All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did
not hear them. “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved,
and will go in and out and find pasture. “The thief comes only to steal and
kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
Almighty God, merciful Father, You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit, that when we hear the voice of our Shepherd we may know Him who calls us each by name and follow where He leads us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Passive Sentences –8%
Readability – 85.6%
Reading Level – 4.5
Collect for Psalm 23, For All the Saints, A Prayer book for and By the Church © 1995 The American Lutheran Publicity Bureau, Delhi, NY
Collect for Easter 4, Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House, St. Louis
Christ the King, Christ the Door, The Lost Sheep, copyright © Ed Riojas, Higher Things