Looking For Guidance? Consider Your Good Shepherds Resume!

5th Sunday of Easter

Looking for Guidance?  Consider Your Good Shepherd’s Resume!

Text: John 10:11-18

The young man’s heart was racing. Alone and lost in an unfamiliar city this young teen was tense. It would soon be dark which would make it harder to navigate by the landmarks he had seen for the first time that morning.

“I don’t remember seeing that building” he thought to himself… “I don’t remember being on this street for this long, did I miss a turn… am I even on the right street… what do I do when it gets dark…”

He breaks out in a nervous sweat despite the cool of the evening, his heart continues to race, his footsteps become quicker, almost at a jog his eyes dart back and forth desperately hoping to see something familiar, something that will help him get his bearings. He can’t stop and ask for directions, not because he’s male, but because everyone around him speaks Ukrainian and he knows all of 5 words in Ukrainian. And even if there were street signs he couldn’t read them, he doesn’t know the Cyrillic alphabet! This young man was experiencing what it was like to be lost, and I mean really lost with no idea where he was or where he had to go. This 16 year old young man was me, lost in Kamyanets Podilsky Ukraine…

Being lost is not a fun thing. As humans we love to feel that we are in control of our lives and when we are lost we feel that control start to slip through our fingertips. We enter the land of the unknown where we lose the ability to predict with any degree of certainty what will happen next and stress and panic and worry and doubt begin to fill our minds.

The fear that I experienced in the Ukraine was simply a fear of the unknown, control was out of my hands and I was terrified. Fear of the unknown is something that all humans feel to one degree or another. Fear of the unknown is what drives us to surround ourselves with gadgets and gizmos that give us the delusion that we are in control. Smart phones, GPS’, state of the art cars and security systems make us feel safe. In this crazy, confusing, messed up, unpredictable world proper guidance is an imperative.

Surprise, surprise, the God who created us knows that we need guidance, and he offers it. Are you looking for a GPS for life? Are you looking for someone to guide you through the peaks and valleys of this human existence? Consider for a moment Jesus’ resume, consider the Good Shepherd’s credentials.

The first thing Jesus makes clear to us in his resume as the Good Shepherd is what he is not. Jesus is not a hired hand. Jesus doesn’t offer his shepherding service so that he can simply make money to pay the bills. His guidance is not something he offers only to receive personal glory or fame. Jesus is more than that; Jesus is the Good Shepherd who has a vested interest in his flock.

You see, Jesus created us. He was the word that left the Father’s mouth at the beginning of time; the word which provided the force to drive back waters to make dry ground; the word which resonated across the empty globe creating birds and fish and bushes and trees. He was there when the Father said, “Let us make man in our own image.” He was there when the breath of life was breathed into the lifeless body of Adam. He saw in Adam something of himself, something created in his own image.

He was there at your conception. His careful love knit you together in the womb over nine months. His protecting love has kept you safe from that first moment until now. Jesus cares about you because you are his own creation. Without him, you would not be here. Without him you wouldn’t know what it is to smile and laugh and cry. So when the wolves attacked Jesus would not turn and run like a hired hand… Jesus would fight and die because he truly cares for his flock…

I don’t know how you feel, but I think that is a pretty impressive start to Jesus’ resume. If we are looking for a GPS to guide us through this life the vested interest that the Good Shepherd displays toward his flock makes him a pretty impressive candidate. In fact, I’m confident that all of you believe that Jesus is the only option. Jesus is the only real Shepherd this world has to offer. His guidance is true and just, it always has been and always will be… But I have to ask, what good is a GPS if we don’t listen to its instructions? What good is a GPS if we think we know a better route to take? What good is our faith in Jesus as our Good Shepherd if we don’t listen to his voice when he offers his guidance to us? In other words, do you always live your life displaying trust in the direction of your Good Shepherd? Do you let the words of the Bible steer every move you make?

Maybe, just maybe we all could examine our lives and see how we could follow the leadership of our Good Shepherd a little better. Maybe, just maybe God knows a thing or two about how this world should run, how our lives should run… we are talking about the all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present God who made absolutely everything you see.  Maybe, just maybe Jesus knows something about the hardships and pain we have faced and will face on this earth and is able to guide us through them… he did walk this earth once… he did suffer a little bit himself while he was here…

Our Good Shepherd Jesus has made very clear the kind of lives we are to live as his sheep. He has mapped out in detail the step by step GPS instructions to a godly life but we, the misfit sheep that we are, have the nerve to doubt Jesus’ plan for the world… but look around, is the world really happy when it strays from the Good Shepherd’s guidance? Is your life really better when you go it alone, without your Good Shepherd? Look around you, the world is falling apart and all because we think we know better than Jesus how this world should run.

This world thinks that sex outside of marriage is no big deal but countless broken hearts and broken families testify to fact that we all might be a little better off if we had reserved marriage and sex for one man and one woman in a lifelong relationship.

We are tempted to think that it is no big deal to skip church, bible class or personal devotion and prayer whenever it becomes inconvenient to us but think for a moment: how many temptations would you have been better equipped to deal with if you had spent more time like Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus, soaking up every word he has to say? How many fights could have been avoided? How much worry and doubt could have been dispelled?

We are tempted to think that happiness is found in what we have and who we know but think for a moment: how much happier is your life when you realize with Paul that godliness with contentment is great gain? How much better is your quality of life when you remember that everything you own is a gift from God and only a temporary gift at that? How much more fulfilling is it to live as if you were a stranger in this life and heaven was your home?

Look around the world and realize that this world is not supposed to be like this. You are not supposed to be like this. We were made to be perfect. This world has been tragically corrupted by people just like you and me… people who failed to follow God’s guidance. Look around and realize that the Good Shepherd ought to abandon his obstinate flock for refusing to yield to his will. Like I asked, what good is a GPS if we don’t listen to the directions it gives? Jesus points to streams of living water in one direction and we happily travel in the exact opposite direction… and for our stubborn refusal to follow Jesus’ guidance he ought to withdraw his application to be our Good Shepherd… more than that, as our loving creator he ought to withdraw his love.

But there is more to this Shepherd’s resume. There is love written all over this resume, inexplicable love; love that knows no end, love that has no rhyme or reason, love that simply exists because our Good Shepherd is Love incarnate, love that leads this Shepherd to lay down his life for the sheep. Five times in this short lesson Jesus declares his willingness to lay down his life for us.

We certainly did nothing to earn this protecting love from our Good Shepherd, but there Jesus stands willingly facing the wolves. He died because we foolish sheep couldn’t stop ourselves from straying from the path our Shepherd laid out for us. He died because the sheep thought they knew better than the Shepherd where and when they should go. He went silently to his own slaughter because of his great love.

Now normally a dead shepherd is of no use to the flock, once he is dead there is nothing stopping the wolves from scattering that flock far and wide, but our Good Shepherd is different. Having paid the price for our sins, having suffered the death we deserve he took up his life again. He can do that because he did not deserve to die, he can do that because he is God. Easter morning brings incredibly good news for us, the flock of God. We are not without a shepherd. Even though Jesus died for our sins he rose again and still is daily watching out for our every need.

Jesus gives a whole new definition to the word “good” when he calls himself the Good Shepherd. As our resurrected Good Shepherd he still offers his guidance. This side of eternity the world will never be perfect, far from it. But Jesus promises that when we live our lives following the map he has laid out for us, even though the trials will continue to come, we will be blessed on this earth and we will be rewarded in heaven for daily taking up our cross and following him. Jesus promises that his death means that when we depart this imperfect world we will spend eternity grazing in the heavenly pastures. He’s leading us there as we speak.

I eventually made it back to my host home in the Ukraine. It turned out that I was on the right road but it would have been nice to have a map or GPS because then I could have avoided the feelings of being lost. In this life we need guidance. This world is dangerous and scary with many pitfalls and temptations. In Jesus we have all the guidance we need. He is the Good Shepherd who will guide us through this life to our heavenly home. Amen.


About vicarhoff

I am thrilled and honored to be serving as vicar/intern at Christ the King Lutheran Church and School for a whole year!

Posted on May 10, 2012, in Church, Preschool, Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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