[Skip to Content]
Calvary Lutheran Church - Homepage
Sharing God's Love and Word Within and Beyond Calvary

Sermon April 25 2021

Easter 4 B 2021 Sermon

JOHN 10:11-18


Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!  Christ is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia! 

I was ordained July 7, 2001 in La Grange Texas – almost 20 years ago.  At the ordination, one image that was presented that has always stuck with me describes the role of a Pastor as a sheep dog.  Jesus, one retired Pastor told me, is the Good shepherd and Pastors are the sheep dogs. 

In other words, Pastors are not the shepherd of the flock, that’s Christ’s role.  But Pastors are supposed to assist the shepherd and help tend the flock. 

At first, I loved the metaphor about sheep dogs, but as I read the Gospel text that we have in front of us today, I do not think the metaphor captures what the Gospel of John is trying to say.  And if we hear in this passage that “Jesus is the Good shepherd, the Pastor is the sheep dog, and you all are the sheep,” then we are going to miss a lot of the nuance in this text.    

So today, let us step back and ask, what exactly is going on in our reading from John?  

The first thing that we must keep in mind as we read this text is that the Gospel of John is a carefully crafted book that is full of internal references.  The Gospel of John loves to foreshadow things that will happen later in the book, and John’s Gospel loves to call back words or phrase that occurred earlier in the writing, and that John’s Gospel builds theological towers on top of foundations he laid elsewhere in the Gospel. 

In other words, we cannot read one piece of John’s Gospel without keeping in mind the rest of the book.  And it is always dangerous to take a few verses all by themselves and not try to understand the context in which the verse was written.  Let me explain what I mean.      

In our passage today, Jesus states “I am the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  And at first glance, it all seems pretty straight forward.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd because He lays down His life for the sheep.  

We know that Jesus willingly went to the Cross, and that Jesus laid down His life for us.  1 Peter states "He himself bore our sins' in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; 'by his wounds you/I have been healed.”’

But this is not the only time in John’s Gospel where Jesus uses the phrase “lays down his life.”  In Chapter 15, the text we heard on Maundy Thursday, Jesus says “This is my commandment, that you love another as I have loved you.  No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” 

Jesus said the greatest expression of love is to lay down one’s life.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd because He lays down His life.  And Jesus wants us to do the same.  Jesus wants us to love one another as He loved us – and He loved us by laying down His life. 

And the scary part about all of this is that Jesus is calling His disciples (and us) to be Good Shepherds also.  If we want to walk with Jesus, then Jesus is calling us to love so fully that we are willing to give our life for others. 

And that is a scary proposition.  And so, we try to ignore the link that these two passages have in common.  And we might trick ourselves into thinking that it is a stretch to link these two passages together just because they both talk about laying down one’s life.

But if you are feeling skeptical, John’s Gospel offers one more piece of evidence that these two passages are linked.  At the very end of the Gospel, after the crucifixion, after doubting Thomas gets to put his finger in Christ’s wounds, there is one more resurrection appearance. 

The resurrection appearance occurs when the disciples were out fishing, when the disciples had gone back to their profession before they had met Jesus.  But Jesus has other plans for them. 

Jesus says to Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me.”  Peter says “Yes.”  Jesus responds, “Feed my lambs.” 

Jesus asks Peter again, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?  Tend my sheep.” 

And a third time Jesus asks Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?  Feed my sheep.” 

Peter had tried to go back to being a fisherman, but Jesus called him to be a Good Shepherd instead.  And the point being, Jesus did not call Peter to be a sheepdog, but a Good Shepherd who is willing to give his life for the sheep.Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  And so are we.  Or at least, that is what we are called to be.  Jesus is calling us to be Good Shepherds.  Jesus is calling us to feed his lambs, to tend His sheep, and to lay down our lives for the sake of others.    

Jesus is the Good shepherd, and Jesus needs us to be Good Shepherds, too.  Jesus is calling us because there are other sheep out there who need to be brought in, hungry lambs who need to be fed, flocks that are in danger and need shepherds willing to lay down their lives for the sheep. 

Jesus is our Good Shepherd, who was willing to lay down His life for our sake.  Jesus is calling us to follow Him, to be Good Shepherds, too, to love with His sacrificial love.   That is what it means to be a part of His flock.  We follow our Good Shepherd so that we can become Good Shepherds, too.  

Alleluia!  Christ is Risen!  Christ is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia! 

Let us pray: God of power, you called from death our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep.  Send us as shepherds to rescue the lost, to heal the injured, and to feed one another with knowledge and understanding; through your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.  Amen.