10 August 2014
We are a distracted people. Multi-tasking is the lie of our age. You can’t multi-task, you can only do several things poorly. That is why we are the least productive generation of Americans the world has ever seen and our economy is turning over to a service economy. ADD is not just a personal disability inflicted upon a few. It is a social disorder of which none of us is completely free. We grow quickly bored, are addicted to our devices, and demand constant amusement. We can’t focus. Why would we need to warn people, or even pass legislation against, texting and driving? Wouldn’t it be obvious that you shouldn’t do that?
Our lack of focus and discipline, our love of luxury and amusements, makes us easy prey for the devil. How can we judge the fruit of a prophet, if we can’t listen more than 2 or 3 minutes, or be bothered to look anything up?
Repent. Christianity on this side of glory is not the life of Riley. It is a call to battle and to sacrifice. And it is a strange battle, for the enemy has teeth and claws and numbers, and we have only soft necks and a bleating cry. The enemy is clever, ravenous, and brutal. We seem rather defenseless. We have no ability in ourselves to stand against wolves. But we have a Shepherd and our bleating prayers bring His angels to our side.
With the Shepherd, we are safe. The wolves cannot stand against Him. They sink their teeth into Him and cannot pull them out again. They are destroyed by killing Him. His death satisfies the Law’s demands and ends all of Hell’s accusations. There He declares His sheep to be innocent and His own. The wolves cannot have them.
So also we have undershepherds. We call them pastors. They stand in the stead of the Shepherd and hearken us back, again and again, into the fold, back to the Shepherd where we are safe.
The wolves cannot stand against the Shepherd so they seek to separate us from the flock and they take up guerilla tactics. Rather than simply wait for us to fall away from the Shepherd, they infiltrate the flock and attempt to mislead us into an ambush. This is the cause of persecution.
The undersheperds can’t be trusted. I can’t be trusted. No earthly pastor, no priest, no pope, no seminary professor, nor president of synod or Lutheran hour speaker, can be trusted. The wolves can dress up like any of them. And even those who aren’t wolves, who mean well, can fail. They can break promises. They can crumble under pressure. They are not trustworthy.
What can be trusted? God’s Word. That is the standard by which the sheep must judge the undershepherds. That is the sole source and norm of all our doctrine and life. Lifehacker and Oprah might have occasional insights and bits of practical advice to help us along, but only the Word of God endures forever, never lies, and tells us what we really need to know.
We need to hear it and heed it. We need both to repent of our sins and also trust in the promise that God is our God, that He is not angry with us, but has accepted the Sacrifice of the Son. We need to hear the Voice of Our Shepherd in His Word and trust that He is risen and lives for us.
The Gospel in this part of the sermon is that it is Jesus Himself, the Good Shepherd, who is speaking it. There is a Good Shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep, who comes seeking the lost. He is focused. He has done what we could not. He comes to earth knowing what must be done: He must be forsaken by the Father and killed to put death to death and then He must rise again to bring life and immortality to life. He counts you worthy of the cost. He does it for you, to have you, to save you, to keep you from the enemy. He issues these warnings from His mercy, to spare us unnecessary pain and to keep us from danger.
The essence of being a sheep is to be under someone’s care. Your Baptism placed into the Lord’s Flock. It set enmity between you and the devil. There God promised to not let you go, to remember you, to seek you, to feed you, to care for you.
In +Jesus’ Name. Amen.