Eternal Savior Lutheran Church

A member of the Lutheran Church - Missouri Synod

2688 North Park Drive
Lafayette, CO 80026
303-665-6105
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PENTECOST 9 – July 22, 2018 – Eph. 2:11-22 “BLESSED JESUS OUR SHEPHERD”

Introduction:  Grace be to you and peace, from God our Father, and from our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Our text is the Epistle Lesson just read, from Ephesians 2.  We begin with prayer.

 

Dear fellow disciples of our Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ:

  • One of the unfortunate dynamics of human life in many of the developed parts of the world, is the trend away from significant relationships and a growing isolation of individual human beings.
  • Now it is true that there is still a lot of electronic communication and “relating,” but many people have noted the inherent problems with this, not the least of which is honesty and truthfulness.
  • Why has there been an erosion of the valuing of face to face, real life interactions? Some claim that it is because we have too much of this at work.  We just get “peopled-out.”  Others think that it is easier for us, and we are being lured toward electronic relationships that we can more easily control, that we can just turn on or turn off at will. 
  • I’m certain that there are a number of contributing factors, all of a more superficial nature. But I am also certain that the real cause of people withdrawing into themselves and avoiding real human relationships is human sin.  First, there is our own selfishness.  We want our time and lives for ourselves.  Second, there is our own certainty that our opinions and thoughts are right.  We may consider it a waste of time listening to others, and then trying to explain what is right and true to them.  Third, we may come to think that other people are not only stupid but also dangerous.
  • This is not a new problem. There have been hermits and “private” people throughout the years.  John Dunne had to observe that “no man is an island,” to remind people of the need to relate, to work together, and to thrive together. 
  • However, it is a particularly poignant issue within the church when relationships become more distant. In our text Jesus describes the people as “sheep without a shepherd.”  Sheep that are “shepherded,” of  course, belong to a flock, and are kept together as a flock. 
  • Fortunately, with “JESUS AS OUR SHEPHERD,” we also are being “gathered” and “built together.” And this is important for us to understand, for as we see in the Old Testament Lesson for today:

 

I.  Our Earthly Shepherds Can Fail Us

 

A.  They Can Fail Us By Scattering And Dismaying Us By False And Unevangelical Teaching, By Moral Failures, Or Other Weaknesses

 

OT Lesson:  “Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!” declares the Lord.”

 

B.  They Can Fail Us By Not Caring Enough To Speak The Truth In Love

 

OT Lesson:  “You have scattered My flock and have driven them away, and you have not attended to them.”

 

Statement:  What Jesus desires is for our earthly shepherds to “care for them” so that “they fear no more, nor be dismayed,” and that none of them be missing.  He is speaking, of course, of those who are His sheep, those who are willing to be shepherded by His Word.  He is not referring to those who have crept into the flock as “wolves in sheep’s clothing,” or others who demonstrate that they do not truly belong to Him by rejecting His Word and rejecting the fellowship of the flock.

 

Application:  Through the Gospel, the message of God’s great love for us, His gift of forgiveness, life, and salvation, Jesus is still able to gather people to Himself and bless us.  But again, the process is not one by which Jesus makes us strong and capable “independent agents,” but rather one by which He is gathering us to Himself and also together as a “flock,” a group of God’s people.  For:

 

II.  Jesus – Who Is “The Lord Our Righteousness” – Blesses And Gathers Us To Himself

 

A.  Even We Who Are Gentiles Have Been Brought Near To God By The Blood Of Jesus

 

Text:  “But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

 

B.  He Has Abolished All Laws That Divide Us, Making Us One In His Grace, Mercy, And Forgiveness

 

Text:  “For He Himself is our peace, Who has made us both one and has broken down in His flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments and ordinances, that He might create in Himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility.” 

 

C.  He Has Brought Us Into His Household By One Spirit

 

Text:  “Through Him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”

 

1.  This house is founded on Scripture

 

Text:  “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the cornerstone.”

 

2.  This is a house growing in the Lord

 

Text:  “in Whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord.”

 

3.  This is a house in which people are being “built together”

 

Text:  “In Him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”

 

Statement:  You see how the church of God is always being “called, gathered, enlightened, and sanctified” together – as a holy temple, a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.”  This can never be a “lone ranger” kind of deal, because what matters is love, God’s love for each of us, and just as importantly, that we love one another – if for no other reason than that God loves them! 

 

Application:  Obviously, the “one” who opposes God and His gracious will for all people, will be trying to divide and separate and isolate people.  So we need to remember – the one standing alone is not stronger than the “flock,” but rather weaker, and much more vulnerable.  God is love, and that means He is ever gathering us to Himself within the fellowship of love which is His flock, the church. 

 

Conclusion:  So when we note that much of life is moving in the direction of solitude, satellite working and satellite learning, electronic communication, and seeming independence, we might want to think about this more carefully.  As I mentioned earlier, our sinful nature has a predilection toward selfishness, pride, and independence. 

 

Not only is this not good for us, or healthy, it is contrary to God’s nature and His work among human beings.  It is contrary to the life and health of the church, and deadly to our spiritual life and being. 

 

So let us take care in this whole matter of relationship and isolation.  What technology makes easier, and what seems appealing to us, is contrary to God’s will for us, and contrary to the dynamics of life in His church.  

 

We have “BLESSED JESUS AS OUR SHEPHERD,” and there is no question as to His will to gather us into His flock, His people, His dwelling place.  Amen.

 

Votum:  And the peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds in the true faith, which is in Christ Jesus, even unto life everlasting, Amen.