April 20, 2024

Good Shepherd Models Sacrificial Love (Easter 4b)

Jesus is teaching his followers the cost of being a serious Christian. Just as His life, witness and ministry modelled self-sacrificial love; so we as His followers are to model the self-sacrificial love of the ancient shepherds. This is the opposite of how the “me” generation thinks:

  • ·      Self-sacrifice is laying down your life for others
  • ·       Means putting the needs of the other before our own
  • ·      Distinguish between the needs and the wants of the other
  • ·      May involve risking unpopularity by offending the other
  • ·      Jesus challenged people to repent
  • ·      Jesus feed people with relevant teaching and hope
  • ·      Jesus brought people into personal relationships
  • ·      protects us by giving up His life so we could be forgiven

1. The Good Shepherd Challenges People

This is the opposite of our pagan culture of political correctness. We all know where this is coming from. It has devastated Christianity. 

  • ·       My call to ministry - Isaiah’s “I have set my face like flint” (50.7)
  • ·       Peoples’ first need is to be challenged to change
  • ·       If you love the child is running toward the road and death you do whatever you can to stop him – even if it hurts him
  • ·       Not challenging people is a failure to love them self-sacrificially

2. Orthodoxy: The Good Shepherd Feeds the Sheep

In many churches religion has been reduced to rules of behaviour that do not nourish people or give them hope.

  • ·      People need the spiritual food of the Bible, prayer, public worship and practical teaching
  • ·      People need the spiritual water of the Good News of forgiveness and salvation in Jesus Christ
  • ·       Thriving churches are in touch with the truth (orthodoxy) and in touch with the needs of the community (Relevance)

3. Community: The Good Shepherd knows us by name

We are social creatures. The worst punishments is solitary confinement. Just as an ancient shepherd would develop a lifelong intimate love relationship with his sheep; so Jesus is developing a lifelong intimate love relationship with us through the Holy Spirit.

  • ·      Community: – being in touch with others is one of four pillars of a thriving Church 
  • ·      (1 John 3.16-24) we are told “And this is how we know that he lives in us: we know it by the Spirit he gave us.” 
  • ·      Experience the Holy Spirit is not optional for Christians
  • ·      Signs of the Spirit are the gifts of love, joy, peace, kindness, patience and healing

4. Good Shepherd Protects Us

Without spiritual protection and forgiveness, we are all spiritually dead in our sins and without hope. We all need a Shepheard to warn us and protect us from physical and spiritual danger.

  • ·      Holy Spirit as the continuing presence of Jesus guides us, teaches us, convicts us, heals us and comforts us
  • ·      The Church gives us the spiritual protection of Baptism, Holy Communion, Confession and Absolution and Healing Ministry.

5. The Good Shepherd Forgives Us

We all need forgiveness – this is what Jesus did for us in the ultimate example of self-sacrificial love. .I have never met anyone who did not need divine forgiveness.

  • ·   ·       I have met many trapped in the hell of unforgiveness
  • ·      Resurrection, Divinity and Forgiveness of Jesus is one of the 7 lost spiritual truths I discovered in writing “Recovering, Truth, Freedom and Democracy: Challenging Woke Totalitarianism”
  • ·       It is the essence of Christianity that has been lost in Western culture and root of our descent into chaos and totalitarianism.

Readings challenge us to move out of our comfort zone and take the self-sacrificial risks of a Good Shepherd in challenging and spiritually nurturing and protecting all of God’s children in Jesus Name!

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