Let us pray: Dear Savior, today You remind us that You have “laid down Your life for Your sheep.” Since we’re that important to You, we feel honored, uplifted, happy, and blest. Also, since You’ve told us that You’re willing to leave the 99 and go and find the one lost sheep—us, at times—we’re thankful and grateful for Your love. May such love empower us to try to avoid straying and getting lost as we journey through life. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GOOD SHEPHERD!
TEXT: John 10: 11-18
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
What makes you important? What provides you with a reason to get up each morning and go on with the ho-humness of life? Isn’t it the relationships you’re in? Isn’t it the web of people who are counting on you, who are dependent upon you? We humans reach the pinnacle of happiness when we feel we’re needed. That’s the primary reason that Mother’s Day is such a joyous holiday. Mothers truly are needed. They provide love, stability, and instill a sense of direction in each and every home. Without them, none of us would be here. Without them our lives would be barren and empty. But instead of honoring just mothers today, perhaps we should also honor every single care-giver we know. For handing out love and providing a sense of direction to another person is a great gift. It is love in action. And we should all be thankful for having such folks touch our lives, thereby making them better.
Today as we ponder this well-known Good Shepherd text, I want each of you to key in on this one thought. It is:
THE IMPORTANCE OF YOU….
Are you a “legend in your own mind?” Or, are you a legend to others? That’s not a silly, or facetious question, either. One of our greatest fears in life is ending up alone and forgotten when we’re old and gray. If our sense of importance is based only on prideful fiction in which we think we’ve made a difference in other’s lives and haven’t, retiring is a fearful thing. But, if we truly have impacted other’s lives for the better with our own, well, then you’ll never be truly alone or forgotten.
One of the blessings of children is that you can shape and mold their lives. You as mom or dad can truly make a difference for them. Since mom’s are often the primary care-givers in any family, today we honor them for their loving service. But every single person here today, every aunt, uncle, or friend can also have a living legacy of love. You, too, can reap the inner joy of uplifting another heart by following the lead of your Good Shepherd.
No matter your age, each of you should feel very, very important! O, the media and the world press may not know you. Your name may never appear in any newspaper. But, you are important because “the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” In short, you’re important to Christ! And since Jesus is the Son of God, and since He has inscribed your name in the book of heaven, you will never, ever, be forgotten. If someone died to save you, you’d never forget them. Well, Jesus died for you and that means He’ll never forget you, either.
The Good Shepherd owns you. He bought and paid for your body and soul with His blood. But, His ownership doesn’t stop at that. O no. He is also actively involved every day in protecting you and caring for you. Christ talks about the hired hand who runs away and abandons the sheep when the first sign of trouble comes along. That’s the way it is in most human relationships that are not based on Christian love. People naturally look out for # 1 first. They’re there to help and assist as long as they can get something in return. By nature we’re all “takers” instead of “givers.” We take more in terms of emotional currency from others than we hand out. And when that situation becomes reversed, we cut and run.
But not so with Christ. Remember that story of how the shepherd left the 99 sheep to go and find the one who was lost? That’s Jesus. That’s how Jesus treats us. That’s how important we are to Him. We can never give Him more in terms of commitment and love than He has already given to us. In that sense, He truly is our Best Friend, our Master, our Lord, and our Savior. And because He’s God, when He goes out to look for us and assist us in our hour of peril, He truly has the power to pull us out of the muck and mire of our self-inflicted sin.
Jesus was important because He was and is God. But what made His life memorable was the fact that He refused to ignore our loneliness, our fear of death, and our many sins. What made Him memorable was the fact that He got involved in saving us, in making our lives better. So, what about you? When you get to the end of your life and look back, what will it be that makes you stand out from the crowd? Will it be how much money you’ve amassed? How many trips you took? How hard you worked for corporation w, y, or z? Or, will it be the fact that you followed the lead of your Good Shepherd and served another human being in love and self-sacrifice? Well, you know the answer.
The most important task in this life is leading another lost sheep into Christ’s fold. It is sharing the news that Jesus Christ gave His life for ours and that through faith in Him we have the certainty of heaven awaiting us. That news transforms! It gives focus to everything you do. Why get up tomorrow? Because I’ve got God’s work to do! I’ve got to let my light shine. Why keep giving emotional commitments to friends and neighbors? Because in such care-giving lives are transformed for God’s glory and I’m doing something that is truly lasting.
As I look back over my 48 years, I can still see clearly those long-dead souls that spent time shaping and molding my life for the better. I can still see those Sunday School and public school teachers, those neighbors, those relatives, a pastor or two, a Christian employer, and even friends who cared enough about a little boy from Redwood Falls, Mn to get involved in me. Ultimately, Christ the Good Shepherd sent them and blest their efforts. Today I’m important—because I’m doing the same thing in your lives.
By God’s grace I’m a Christian. By God’s grace I’m important to Christ. And by sharing God’s grace—love in action—I’m important to countless others. For that I’m thankful. And because of that I’m not going to quit letting my light shine! My hope and prayer is that it may be so for you, too. Amen.