Mark 6: 30 – 34 (Pentecost 9 - 2015)
“Jesus, Shepherd of the Sheep”
This Sunday in Pentecost has been labeled “Orthodoxy Sunday.” (Ortho = Straight ; Dox = Teaching). We see a repeated element in the Bible that God wants his Word to be taught correctly. The one Man who did that perfectly is Jesus, the Great Shepherd. Today we want to see how the one who was about to feed thousands miraculously with earthly bread, had a greater desire and purpose to feed the world with the Bread of Life: Himself.
I. Keeps his Under-shepherds Faithful
A. The sending out of the Twelve
Jesus sent out his seminary students to do mission work for the very first time. They had been fed by him the pure food of his teachings. They had been convicted of their sins. They had been pointed to his fulfillments of the Law and the Prophecies and Promises. They had been washed in John’s Baptism. They had been given the Spirit’s food of forgiveness from the Shepherd who was going to lay down his life for the sheep.
They came back. They needed more spiritual food and direction. They were accountable to the Great Shepherd. They needed more instructions. They desired to report to him what they had seen and heard. They desired his leadership. They craved his approval rather than the approval of the people of the world. They knew he had the words of everlasting life to share.
B. Under-shepherds Today
Today, more than ever, I am thankful for our Christian Institutions. Called workers do not grow on trees. They are born and trained out of Christian Education. They come from homes where parents taught them of the Shepherd, Jesus. They are fed in schools where his Word rules over all things taught. They come from High Schools, Prep Schools, and Higher Worker Training Schools (MLC and Seminary). For over 150 years Jesus has been training men and women for our church body in these schools. We support these schools. We pray for them. We ask for God’s blessings on those who teach and learn there. We send our sons and daughters to them so that the next generations will have workers in their harvest fields.
They train in these Schools because the Spirit fed them a desire. That desire was fueled by important people in their lives (Parents & Grandparents; Pastors and Teachers). When will be the next time you have the chance to encourage a young person for ministry? Are there young people in your homes who have demonstrated the gifts and abilities? Will we be willing in this generation to steer enough of our youth in that direction?
One more though: Paul wrote to Timothy: “Continue in what you have learned and become convinced of” (2 Timothy 3:14-15). This passage was written to a pastor. Pray for the Workers in the field. Ask the Lord to give them patience and courage for the work. Support them in the work they do. Receive their Words with hearts that are willing to hear rebuke and correction, yet joyful to know forgiveness and words of hope in Christ. Above all, ask the Lord Jesus to keep them faithful to his pure teachings. See to it that they have and take the time to continue to grow in that Word of Truth through the personal time to study and learn. Jesus took his disciples “to a quiet place to get some rest.”
Transition: The One who taught and trained saw that his work did not end with those he trained. “I have other sheep who are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also” (John 10:16).
II. Never Quits Looking for Lost Sheep
A. Sheep without Shepherd – seeing the crowds”
In the Jeremiah Lesson today we saw the sad reality that the under-shepherds had failed miserably. They had stopped feeding themselves and therefore had nothing to offer to the people.
That was also true of the spiritual leaders of Jesus’ time. His heart ached for the people. He was willing to have them constantly interrupt and follow him all over the countryside because he knew “they were like sheep without shepherd.” Sheep without shepherds is a dangerous thing. They run toward things that harm them. They forget to eat. They get lost. Sheep without a shepherd is a flock in danger!
How much more true of souls! Multitudes of people run after things that are not the true teachings of Christ. Sadly there are many false shepherds who will comply to their hunger for bad theology. Multitudes of people are sadly being malnourished with slop that Jesus would never feed them. And they are eating it up. Just as sad are the multitudes who have no one to feed them. They are the lost. They are following the in born instinct of sinfulness and godlessness. They have no thought for God. They are on a path to eternal destruction.
Jesus aches for them!“I have other sheep who are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also” (John 10:16). He went actively looking for them. He trained and sent missionaries to send them. He has qualified you to be one seeks them out and leads them back to the true Shepherd.
We were lost without Him, too. We were born a sheep without a Shepherd. We would remain lost if not for his Voice constantly in our ears. We would remain lost if not for his constant guidance to the still waters of life. The same temptations that haunt those who don’t know his voice are the ones that draw us away from him. If he had not called us away, we would certainly be running with the flocks of those who are heading for eternal disaster.
B. The True Shepherd
Jesus meets the largest need all sheep have – “I lay down my life only to take it up again” (John 10: 17). His food is to do the work the Father sent him to do. The meat and bread of his Words is that work. When we hear the true voice of our Shepherd we hear him calling from the cross “Father forgive them! For they do not know what they are doing.” When we hear his voice, we hear him proclaiming in the cemeteries everywhere, including the one where he was buried: “I am the Resurrection and the Life, whoever believes in me will live!”
This is why we strive to run after the lost sheep, too. This is why we call on those who have wandered from the Shepherd and his Voice. This is why we teach the Word on Sunday, not just in worship but in Sunday School and Family Bible Time. This is why encourage young people to enter Schools where the word of God speaks the Voice of their true Shepherd. His Voice speaks their forgiveness. His Voice Calls them to his loving arms. His Voice leads them on the One Path that Leads to eternal Life. The Lost and the Found must alike be fed well with the Gospel of the Shepherd!
This is, and remains, the ultimate goal of the Shepherd: “I have not lost any on those you have given me. –I give them eternal life (John 10: 27).” Jesus has a heart for his sheep, those in the fold and those yet to be brought into it. Praise him and the Father, who promise that he will not lose any of us. Rather he will keep calling in his Shepherd Voice until all are brought into the heavenly fold. Amen