A Sermon by Rev. Hope Domingo
Parish Pastor at Redeemer Lutheran Church
Binalonan, Pangasinan, North Luzon Lowland District
Ang grasya at kapayapaan mula sa ating Diyos ay sumainyo, sa pangalan ng ating Panginoon. Amen.
Our gospel reading is very popular especially for Christians. Ito kasi ang ipinanghehele sa mga baby bago matulog: “I am Jesus’ little lamb.” Of course, alam nating lahat that Jesus is our Good Shepherd. Pero bakit nga ba sinabi ni Jesus “I am the Good Shepherd?”
Jesus’ description of himself as the only good shepherd was born from controversy in chapter 9. Dito kasi sa chapter 9, Jesus heals a man born blind, sa araw pa naman ng Sabbath, na ayon sa system of rules ng mga Fariseo ay bawal. The Pharisees conducted an investigation. Nang ang tao’y tinanong at ayaw bawiin ni Jesus ang nagpagaling sa kanya, itinapon sya sa labas ng sinagoga. Di lang itinapon, they excommunicated him. Dahil ditto, tinawag sila ni Jesus na blind guides, robbers and thieves who were destroying God’s flock.
Bakit nga ba parang sinasabi dito ni Jesus sa mga Fariseo, “Galit ako sa inyo!” Dahil, imbes kasi na ang mga Fariseo sana ang magsilbing spiritual leaders ng Israel upang maalagaan sila, they betrayed both God and his people. They had become spiritual thieves and robbers who were leading Israel away from God by adding their own ideas to God’s Word. Pharisees taught that salvation was achieved by obeying a set of rules and regulations that they had invented above and apart from God’s Law. Hindi sila nagging tapat na spiritual leaders of Israel. Instead, they were leading Israel into spiritual destruction. In response to the Pharisees’ malpractice, sinabi ni Jesus na hindi lahat ng gumagamit ng pangalan ng Diyos sa kanilang pagtuturo ay galing sa Diyos.
“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The watchman opens the gate from him, and the sheep listens to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
Even if we are not tending sheep, we can understand this picture image given above. Every evening the shepherd would lead his flock to the sheep pen where they would be safe from wild animals and thieves throughout the night. In the morning, he would call his flock and they would follow him out to be fed and watered. But the legitimate shepherd was not the only one interested in the sheep. Some would sneak into the pen to steal the sheep. They were robbers and thieves. They were not interested in the well-being of the sheep. They were just interested in what hey could get and steal from the flock. That’s what the Pharisees had done to the blind man and were doing to God’s people – by means other than the Gospel and were robbing the sheep of their salvation.
Kung ang akala natin ay noon lang unang panahon na nangyari ito ay nagkakamali tayo. Nangyayari pa rin ito ngayon. False shepherds are everywhere preaching something very different from God’s Law and Gospel. Some religious groups may come to your door carrying their bibles and able to quote plenty of Bible passages for you. But if you listen closely you hear that they are not interested in pointing out sin and leading you to Christ for forgiveness. Instead, they want you to accept and believe their won message and method to get to eternal life – a message that depends on how earnest, zealous, honest and obedient you are. You might hear other groups also who promise earthly wealth and prosperity. But Jesus has never guaranteed those things. They also teach people about close, personal relationship with Jesus. But they deny the very means through which Jesus has promised to come to us: the Gospel in Word and Sacrament. People are attracted to their churches by their image of wealth and success. But the untold story is that these false shepherds become rich by fleecing in the flock. Many of them are named as richest men in the world.
This brings us to the question: do we know the voice of our Good Shepherd? Makikilala mo ba kung sino ang false teacher at hindi? Here are 3 basic things that you should listen for in any sermon:
First, what is the subject matter? If the main focus is on your life or the life of a preacher, that is not Christ-centered preaching.
Second, what is the problem that the shepherd is seeking to cure? Is it about greatness of our sins, or about wealth or emotions? Does the speaker proclaim God’s Law and threat of punishment in all its sternness, or do they modify the law to better fit our secular, immoral culture?
Third, what is the solution to the problem? Do you have to do something? Do you need to pray more, give more, work more, try harder to get right with God? If that is the message you are hearing, do not entertain them. That’s how God keeps you safe from false teachers.
Since the crowd especially the Pharisees did not understand the metaphor made by Jesus, he used another – a simpler one.
“I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.”
Jesus is now saying here that the only way to heaven is through faith in him. He does not leave your salvation in your hands. The real message of Christianity is that the real, deep, eternal problem is human sin – not only the sins we do but the sinfulness we were born with. At ang tanging solusyion ay matatagpuan lamang sa krus ni Kristo. No one will go to heaven who denies Jesus as the only Savior from sin. The entire New Testament makes it clear that this is the central doctrine of the Bible. When a jailer asked Paul, “What must I do to be saved?” Paul answered, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31)
Can we really believe that there is only one path and no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved? Are we willing to put our present and future, our time and talents, our very lives and our eternity in the hands of Jesus our Good Shepherd? The answer to these questions does not lie in our hearts. It lies in what Jesus, our good shepherd, has already done for us. This shepherd did not sit in his mansion and tell us how to earn God’s favor. He came down to this troubled earth to do the dirty, bloody work of earning God’s favor for you and me. This shepherd volunteered to take the blame for our lies, hatred, our impatience and greed, our sins of thought, word and deed. This shepherd allowed himself to be betrayed, arrested, condemned, beaten and whipped for us. This shepherd took our place on a cursed cross and suffered our punishment in hell. This shepherd rose again to life to offer us forgiveness of sins and eternal salvation to all people, free of charge, no strings attached. Sinong leader, preacher or teacher ang makagagawa niyan? Jesus is the only shepherd we can trust because he’s the only way to eternal life and the only way to a full life even now.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Brothers and sisters in Christ, sheep do not much to keep them happy. Give them some green grass, clean water, a safe shelter, a faithful shepherd, and they are content. For a sheep, that is a full life. What about us? What is our idea of a full life? Are we content with the essentials? – food, water, clothing, shelter, the forgiveness of sins and the promise of eternal life?
Here is the truth about a full life. Having a full life does not depend on our level of comfort, health, wealth or any other thing that this world can offer. The full life Jesus promises us is one filled with the things of God: the promise of his abiding presence every day, peace with God through his blood, his protection from enemies both physical and spiritual, his unwavering love, his abundant mercy and forgiveness, the absolute certainty of salvation. These things are ours whether poor, healthy or sick. These are things no one can steal from us. These are the things a full, content, joyful life is made of.
Today our Good Shepherd calls us. Let us listen to his voice and he will keep us safe from thieves and robbers and lead us to a life full of blessing now and forever in heaven. Amen.
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keeps your hearts and minds, through faith in Jesus Christ. Amen.