Text: John 10:11-18

Sunday April 21, 2024 -Easter 4

Trinity Lutheran Church – Creston/Mount Ayr.


       Grace, mercy, and peace is yours from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!


       Our text for this Fourth Sunday of Easter is our Gospel lesson from John 10 that was just proclaimed.


Let Us Pray:  Dearest Jesus, send your Holy Spirit to remind us that as our shepherd you provide for all of our bodily needs and also protect us from danger…and you go all the way to the cross to give your life for our sin.   Amen.


Dear Fellow Redeemed in Christ:


This morning, every one of you will hear everything that is said, read, and sung in this service. But the reality is, not every one of you will listen to everything that is said, read, and sung in this service.


Listening is much more involved; it takes effort. We hear things all the time, but it’s only some of what we hear that we tune in to and listen to. With all our present technology and social media, there is an even greater increase in the number of voices coming at us. It can be rather overwhelming to know what “voice” to listen to.


So do we always have discernment about who gets our attention? It stands to reason that we ought to listen to those who care about us. But do we always recognize who cares about us? I mean, who does really, lovingly care for us? How do you even know? Our Scripture for today on this Good Shepherd Sunday speaks to this. It teaches us that

Jesus Is the Shepherd Who Cares for You.


The people in Jesus’ day had heard a lot from spiritual leaders. For generations, their people had heard a lot. Long ago, there had been Moses and the prophets. They had been faithful, caring voices, had recorded God’s loving words in the sacred Scriptures.


But in more recent years, actually for four centuries by this point, the prophets had been silent. And those who were to teach and interpret those Scriptures faithfully had become less than faithful. The Pharisees and the chief priests, mostly Sadducees, had become self-serving shepherds, protecting their places of honor and caring little for the people.

When Jesus came along, his voice was different. It was the voice of someone who cared—really, truly, lovingly cared. “They will listen to my voice,” Jesus said (v 16). How would they know? Because it was not just words, as John says in our Epistle, but it was demonstrated and backed up through Jesus’ actions—which did speak louder than words alone.


In John 10, Jesus claims that he is the “good shepherd” (v 11). “Good” can also be translated as “noble” or “excellent.” The shepherd’s job was not easy. It was tiring and hazardous.


In the context of Jesus’ statement, the point of contrast is to those bad shepherds, like the Pharisees and Sadducees, what he calls in our text the “hired hand” (v 12). That person is distinguished by his lack of concern and commitment to the sheep.


When danger comes, he flees. He looks out for his own self-preservation and his own self-interest. The good shepherd owns the sheep, so he has a commitment to them. Unlike those other shepherds, Jesus cares for his sheep. He does what is necessary to protect them.


The feature Jesus most highlights as he describes the good shepherd is that he “lays down his life for the sheep” (v 11). Ordinarily, shepherds protect sheep, but they do not die for their sheep.


Jesus, the Good Shepherd, cares so much that he is willing to come between his flock and danger. When trouble comes, the hired hand won’t take any risk. He disappears. But Jesus is willing to die for his sheep.


In Jesus’ description, the key word is “for”—and it reflects his commitment to die “for” the sheep in obedience to God’s will. The Good Shepherd has a profound commitment to the ones he loves.

We might remember a different image from Ephesians 5. Paul writes, “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph 5:25). He gave, he surrendered, for his Bride.


This is an important point. Jesus was not a victim of human conspiracies: “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord” (v 18a). Jesus gave himself to die, but he also took back his life in resurrection: “I lay down my life that I may take it up again” (v 17b). The resurrection was just as much in God’s plan as was Jesus’ sacrificial death.


The term shepherd is what Jesus uses to identify himself. He really is the true Good Shepherd. But remember, shepherd is also a term used to describe those other people who tend to God’s flock, people who have spiritual oversight.



In the First Reading for today, from Acts 4, we see the contrast between those other shepherds, the Jewish authorities, and undershepherds of the Good Shepherd, that is, the apostles. Peter and John were under arrest, standing before the Jewish Council. Their crime? They had just healed a lame man and were preaching to the crowds how the resurrected Christ had made that happen.


Since these Jewish leaders were the very ones who had crucified Jesus, Peter’s message “greatly disturbed” them. They were jealous because of the people’s reaction and upset because they were proclaiming Jesus to be alive. It must be incredibly annoying to go to all the trouble of crucifying someone, only to have his followers pop up to tell everyone that he hasn’t stayed dead!


But Peter is quick to point out the irony of this. He asks, in effect, “You’re upset because of an act of kindness? You just saw someone healed. What kind of people find fault with an act of kindness? Is that the kind of shepherds you are?” Peter knew that the Shepherd under whom he served cared for his sheep by just such acts of kindness.


So Peter continues: It is “by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well” (Acts 4:10 ). Jesus is the one behind this lovingly kind action. He’s the foundation, he’s the way, and he is where salvation is found.

The message of the resurrection can transform lives. The ultimate consequence of Easter is when one’s life is radically changed for the good. When the message of the resurrection is internalized into people’s lives, they become different people. It begins with saving faith in Christ. Then it continues with acts of kindness just like our caring Shepherd performs.


In John 10, what John shows through Jesus’ words, and what stands out, is the presence and care of this Shepherd, one unlike all others. It’s his willingness to lay down his life for his sheep. The sheep have come to trust their Shepherd because of what they know through his actions for them, on their behalf. In all of his interaction with people, Jesus never closes his heart.


As important as such words are to us, they take on a whole new level of importance when it comes to our relationship with God. That’s why God took the most important message any of us will ever receive, and he perfectly translated it into human flesh, so that God’s Word could reach us. Reach me. Reach you. Personally. The “Word became flesh” and came to “dwell with us” (see Jn 1:14).

As he has come among us and is now among us through his Spirit, he cares. In the same beautiful and profound way that the Son and the Father know each other, our Shepherd knows us and our needs—what’s truly important to you, what’s truly important to me.


As we tune into his voice, we can know that we are listening to someone who cares. As he was for David in Psalm 23, the Lord becomes “my shepherd” too. He can be trusted to lead, guide, renew, and restore our lives and spirits. And even when we are faced with the enemy of death, we are assured of his presence with us. His good words and actions are a comfort. And he will, as he promised, be with us all the days of our life. His goal is to lead us home.


How many voices do we hear on any given day? The answer is, “A lot.” It’s the voices of people around us offering or giving us their advice, information, or opinions on what they think we need or need to know. Then there are the voices of people we listen to on the radio, on podcasts, on TV, and through social media.


Advertising and marketing begin by stating a problem that is known or felt. A storyline is introduced as to how our problem or issue can be resolved by obtaining this or that product. And then we’re shown how our life or situation in the future will be better.


There are lots of voices, lots of things offered, but after all is said and done, the discerning question from us should be, “Who truly cares about me? Who really loves me and wants the best for me?”


Sadly, the self-serving motivations and expectations of other people can be the focus. Think of the sacrifices, compromises, and resources that we have possibly surrendered to people who may not really care about us.


Friends in Christ: It’s so different with Jesus—our Good Shepherd (Jn 10:14). Jesus’ actions demonstrated that he is for us and for our benefit. What he wanted for us is what caused him to give his life lovingly for us.

He gave his life in place of ours so we could have our greatest spiritual needs met. His voice is one we can trust with our life, and when we follow his voice, he will get us home.


What does God want you to hear? What does God want you to hear from the voice of our Good Shepherd this morning? Two words. Two words that are deeply profound and life changing: “for you.” They are two words spoken personally to you by your loving and caring Good Shepherd.


In the Words of Absolution. In the words in today’s readings. In today’s message. And as ordinary bread and wine are given—an extraordinary things takes place. Jesus gives himself, personally, and says, “for you.”


Your Shepherd goes with you today and with you into this week. He cares.  Amen.


Now may the peace of God in Christ Jesus guard and keep is in the one true faith until life everlasting…Amen.