“I AM THE GOOD PASTOR”
Saint John 10. 11-16
Misericordias Domini: 14 April Anno Domini 2013
The Rev’d Fr. Jay Watson SSP
In The + Name of Jesus
Here the Word of the Lord: “I am the good shepherd!” Note how the sectarians and heterodox don’t quibble about this word of Christ. You don’t find these sacramentarians sniffing: “oh, that’s just symbolic talk…Jesus represents a shepherd; He makes one remember…ah…remember what—David?” How about Amos?
The deficiencies of Protestant exegesis aside: Jesus means what He says. Jesus is the Good Shepherd that David writes about in the 23rd Psalm.
All human shepherds merely icon, image, reflect, and are modeled after Christ Who is The Good Shepherd. Shepherd means pastor and pastor means shepherd.
Your “old Adam” can put up with the shepherd “shtick” as long as it convinces you that you’re not really one of the sheep, but rather an administrator and voter on the Flock’s Board of Directors. Then, you can just fire the under-shepherds whenever they hurt your feelings or don’t leap high enough when your sinful nature says jump.
But that’s okay, none of that matters. The wayward flock threw Pastor Jeremiah into a pit filled with sewage, threatened to kill Shepherd Moses, persecuted Pastor Isaiah, and sawed in half Shepherd Zechariah. The sheep, feeling their oats (their oats) stoned Pastor Stephen, and ended up killing 11 out of 12 of the Good Shepherd’s original, and finest, cadre of under-shepherds. So, it’s in the cards, it’s part of the plan, or at least of the way things simply are! All the under-shepherd can do is to hold tightly to his crosier, the staff of the Office into which Christ has place him; preach the Words of His Master, and let the Lord’s will be done. Martyr’s in deed (Jan Hus, Patrick Hamilton, Richard Wurmbrand) and in will (Kirk McQuillan, Stephen Weist, Dirk Vander Linde, Randy Gragg, Clark Brown, Michael Hill, Douglas Fusselman, Jerome Deister…well the lc-ms [sic] list is endless, so I must stop) are precious in the sight of the Good Shepherd: The Good Shepherd!
It is all about the Good Shepherd.
Jesus gives His life for the sheep. Jesus gives His life for you. He gave His life for you and He continues to give His life for you.
Jesus is no hireling; He is God of God, homoousias with the Father! There is a hireling in every person, lay and ordained; man and woman, farmer and engineer, new convert and Book of Concord poser. No pastor in a parish can be Christ the God/Man anymore than the parishioner can be Adam pre-forbidden fruit. The Holy Spirit, Christ’s sent counselor, strengthens and emboldens all saints in this blood warfare…in this dangerous passage of the Flock, the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church through the desert to the Promised Land.
It is Christ Himself who battles your wolves, bears, lions, cancers, depressions, divorces, adulteries, lies, hatreds, deaths, separations, and apostasies. Christ fights with His crosier—The Cross and Him Crucified! Christ cares for you His tender lambs. In times when you doubt, look to His blood-red wounds and scars; look to His Words of Peace placed in you through your ears and mouths.
Christ never runs from the wolf. Indeed, The Lord walked into the wolves’ lair when He rode into Jerusalem, marched into Gethsemane, and let Himself be led the rest of the way to Golgotha.
Some under-shepherds are hirelings…you can usually tell them by their ugly shirts and used-car salesmen neck ties. You can always discern them by their false doctrine, lack of preaching real Law before genuine Gospel. You can usually find them at “meetings,” planning sessions, and worship committee jamborees. Hirelings treat the Bride of Christ like a career path…leaving the old and tired, or the declining and quarrelsome parishes to “trade up” to a slicker and more appealing “trophy wife.” I say a pox on them all. We rather, pray for and place before the Messiah’s countenance all those brave pastors who have been slaughtered (along with their families) on the altars of American democratization and modernist heresy: God bless them—their reward is in paradise!
And Jesus the Shepherd, your Pastor, goes right one providing for you and shepherding you. He found you, the one lost little lamb out of the 99 at the font—the womb of His Flock, His Church. He washed you from the filth, muck, and sin of death. He breathed His Holy Spirit into your husk and re-inflated not just your two lungs with His Law & Gospel, His Blood & Water but also your soul and spirit. As Temples of His Paraclete, you have the breath of God within you; His word is your oxygen. He clothed you, His sheep, with the very robes and skin of the Shepherd. While you are His flock, when the Father looks upon you He sees not sheep but sons and daughters. Jesus leads you constantly to the green pastures of His Church—this parish—the Catholic Faith (according to the whole—everything here at this altar, font and pulpit). Here the Shepherd of your souls, your Bishop Jesus, feeds you His very Body and His true Blood; the flesh and blood of the Shepherd slain and raised; of the Great Pastor.
If one does not eat His actual Body and drink His actual Blood, as He says—then one has not the Good Shepherd.
His sheep will hear His voice (because He says so) regardless of the mumblings, cowardice, mis-steps, and bungling of His under-shepherds.
He’s put His life down on it…and raised it up again.
In The Name of The Father and of + The Son and of The Holy Ghost