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Sermon May 8 2022

Easter 4 C 2022 My Sheep Hear My Voice

John 10:22-30


Alleluia!  Christ Is Risen!  Christ Is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia! 

In our lectionary, Good Shepherd Sunday always falls on the fourth Sunday of Easter, and the Gospel text always comes from the tenth chapter of John.  But each segment of the chapter offers a slightly different perspective of our Good Shepherd. 

The first ten verses describe Jesus as the Gate through which His sheep pass safely.  The next section describes how the Good Shepherd is willing to lay down His own life for the sheep.  In today’s passage, we learn how the Shepherd’s voice identifies which sheep belong to the shepherd.  

And how is this done, you may ask?  Let us now turn to our Gospel text today and discover how the shepherd’s voice identifies the sheep of the Lord’s flock.  And as we turn to the text, we discover that as Jesus was walking in Solomon’s porch during the festival of the Dedication, a crowd assembled near Him and began to question Him about His identity.  

The crowd shouted out to Him, “Stop talking in riddles and parables, and just tell us plainly if you are the Messiah.”  The people in the crowd wanted Jesus to speak in clear and simple language.  The people in the crowd wanted Jesus to explain to them in simple language His identity.    

I think everyone of us have had times when we wanted to ask the same question.  This occurs late at night when we cannot sleep because of a problem we cannot solve, or when we are facing a fork in the road.  It occurs during moments when we want Jesus to speak to us using words that we can understand.    

We pray… Help me decide which way to go.  Help me make the proper and right decision.  Lord, please make known your will to me so I can fulfill it.  

Like the crowd that day, Jesus has told us His true identity.  But the explanation that He had given to us is one that we or the crowd will not accept.  It is like the employees who complain that management has not given them enough information about a change that is in the works. Even though there have been memos and meetings, Q & A sessions and letters mailed to each employee, the workers grumble about the lack of communication.    

But the problem is not that the message is not getting out to the employees, the problem is that the employees do not like the message that they are receiving from management. 

The same was true that day when Jesus was met by that large crowd.  His communication skills were not the problem.  The problem was the message that Jesus proclaimed to them was not what they wanted to hear.   

For you see, the folks in the crowd were looking for a Messiah that would fulfill their job description of what a Messiah should be.  And what might this be you ask?  In their minds they wanted a military leader who would lead them to victory over the Romans.  They wanted a Messiah who would save them as they sat passively by and watched it unfold.  

But His message to them was not a call for them to do nothing, but a call to action.  Jesus said to them “My sheep hear my voice.  I know them, and they follow me.”

And herein lies the problem.  Even though the crowd was demanding that Jesus speak clearly to them, they were not able to hear the Shepherd’s voice, because they were not His sheep. 

So, the question is this, “Where does that leave us?”  If we claim to follow Jesus, shouldn’t we be able to hear our shepherd’s voice? 

You know, every day we are bombarded with voices that are NOT the Shepherd’s voice.  For example: Every day the news is filled with tragedies that cause us to be afraid, and social media sends out status updates that makes us feel like our lives are not perfect enough or happy enough.  

And our phones are set to notify us of every opinion posted, every comment made, and every viewpoint expressed on the planet today.  So, how do we hear the voice of Christ in the midst of all this noise?” 

In our text today, instead of showing the crowd His credentials, Jesus turned the question around.  He did this because His identity as the Son of God was not the issue.  Our identity is the issue.   

My sheep know my voice, I know my sheep and they follow me, and I give them eternal life.”  

When we hear His voice and follow Him, Jesus claims us as His own.  And our response to His voice is to follow Him. 

As Jesus explained later in John’s Gospel “Very truly I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father.  John 14:12 

In other words, “Do what I do.” 

The way we act tells the world who Jesus is.  The things we do tell the world who Jesus is.  What we say communicates to the world who Jesus is.  And what we do and say also tells the world who we are, and whose voice we obey. 

When we hear Him and follow Him, Jesus claims us as His own.  And He does more than call out to us.  He does more than know us by name.  He gives us eternal life, and He promises that no one can snatch us out of His hand.  

This is the ultimate promise.  Once we belong to Christ, we are His forever.  As the old gospel hymn states: “safe and secure from all alarms.”   Yes, Jesus promises this to you today.  Jesus is saying to us right now: “You who hear my voice.  I know you, and you follow me.  I give you eternal life, and you will never perish.  And no one will ever snatch you out of my hand.”  

Alleluia!  Christ Is Risen!  Christ Is Risen Indeed!  Alleluia! 

Let us pray: Almighty God, you sent Jesus, our Good Shepherd, to gather us together.  May we not wander from his flock, but follow wherever He leads us, listening for His voice and staying near Him, until we are safely in your fold, to live with you forever; in Jesus name we pray.  Amen.