171119 Ezekiel 34:11-16; 23-24

Last Updated on Monday, 20 November 2017 Written by Pastor Schmidt

Text: Ezekiel 34:11-16, 23-24
Theme: The Shepherd King will Look After His Sheep

This weekend, in our schedule of worship services that we are using here at St. Matthew's, we are bringing another Church Year to a close. As we conclude another Church year, it is good for us to be here in God's house, gathered together around his Word. It is good for us to be here in God's house, singing his praises. As we spend time together in our Lord's Word today, we hear the comforting and assuring message that only comes from the Word of our God. For it is only in the Word of our God that we read that Jesus, our one and only Savior, is the King of kings and the Lord of lords. It is only in the Word of God, and specifically here in Ezekiel chapter 34, that we hear the promise that Jesus Christ, the Shepherd-King, will look after his sheep. He will reign over them. He will rescue them. I invite you to listen now to the Old Testament Lesson appointed for this "Christ the King Sunday", taken from Ezekiel chapter 34, we begin reading at verse 11:

"'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land. I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD. I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice...I will place over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd. I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken.'"

Referring to Jesus as a Shepherd and a King may seem like a strange combination to you and me. After all, a shepherd has the job of looking after lowly sheep, while a King rules over an entire kingdom. However, the picture of Jesus as our Shepherd-King is the exact picture God's Word from Ezekiel chapter 34 uses to describe our Savior.

First, as our shepherd we are told, "I will place over them one shepherd...and he will tend them; he will tend them and be their shepherd." What is the "job description" of a shepherd? One of the main jobs of a shepherd is to watch over and take care of the sheep in his flock. He makes sure that they have enough food to eat and water to drink. As our Good Shepherd, the comfort you and I have is that Jesus Christ is watching us each and every day. He provides for all your needs and mine, both physically and spiritually. Like sheep, you and I are defenseless against our enemies. But our Good Shepherd has defeated our three greatest enemies of sin, death and Satan. Working through his powerful Word, the Good Shepherd has brought us into the pasture of heaven. We are members of his heavenly flock. As members of his flock, Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, daily and richly provides for all our needs of body and soul.

Not only is Jesus Christ our caring, loving Good Shepherd, he is also our King. We read, "I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David (clearly a reference to Jesus – a descendant of David, since King David had been dead for hundreds of years by this time) will be prince among them. I the LORD have spoken." Jesus, our almighty King, is on watch 24 hours a day. Unlike earthly kings, he is not limited in any way. He reigns over all things by his almighty power. As our Almighty King, he promises to reign over all things for our eternal good. As we read in Psalm 47, "Clap your hands, all you nations; shout to God with cries of joy. How awesome is the LORD Most High, the great King over all the earth! He subdued nations under us, peoples under our feet. He chose our inheritance for us, the pride of Jacob, whom he loved. God has ascended amid shouts of joy, the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets. Sing praises to God, sing praises; sing praises to our King, sing praises. For God is the King of all the earth; sing to him a psalm of praise. God reigns over the nations; God is seated on his holy throne. The nobles of the nations assemble as the people of the God of Abraham, for the kings of the earth belong to God; he is greatly exalted."

There are times when a king must go into battle. Perhaps a certain part of his kingdom has been taken captive by an enemy. As the one who reigns over that area, the king must go and rescue his people. As your Shepherd-King and mine, our Savior, Jesus Christ, not only reigns over us, but he promises to rescue us as well.

We read from God's Word: "'For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: I myself will search for my sheep and look after them. As a shepherd looks after his scattered flock when he is with them, so will I look after my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places where they were scattered on a day of clouds and darkness. I will bring them out from the nations and gather them from the countries, and I will bring them into their own land." For the Children of Israel, who were living in captivity in Babylon when Ezekiel wrote his prophecy, these words of rescue brought joy and hope to their hearts. Their Shepherd-King was watching over them, and would rescue them from their captivity.

But this section of Scripture is also intended to bring joy and hope to each and everyone one of us here today. Our Shepherd-King, Jesus Christ, promises us a rescue. Certainly he has rescued us once already. He has brought us to faith, made us part of his flock, part of his kingdom, here on this earth. Through what looked like a great defeat to many as he died on the cross, Jesus rose on Easter morning as our victorious King. Forgiveness of all sins, rescue from the power of the devil, the sinful world and our own sinful nature is ours to enjoy at this very moment because Jesus, our Shepherd-King, rescued us.

But on the Great Last Day, when our Shepherd-King returns in all his glory and majesty, then body and soul we will enjoy eternal rescue from sin, death and the Devil. As we read here in God's Word, "I will search for the lost and bring back the strays. I will bind up the injured and strengthen the weak, but the sleek and the strong I will destroy. I will shepherd the flock with justice."

In his divine justice, as the almighty Shepherd-King, Jesus will separate believers and unbelievers on the Great Last Day. Those who during their lifetime turned away from the Savior and tried to use their own efforts to rescue themselves, will be lost forever in the fires of hell.

But in his great, undeserved love, when the Lord, our Shepherd-King returns in all his glory he will rescue us from this place of tears, and take us to the perfect joy of heaven. God's Word before us describes the rescue this way, "I will pasture them on the mountains of Israel, in the ravines and in all the settlements in the land. I will tend them in a good pasture, and the mountain heights of Israel will be their grazing land. There they will lie down in good grazing land, and there they will feed in a rich pasture on the mountains of Israel. I myself will tend my sheep and have them lie down, declares the Sovereign LORD."

Another year in the Christian Church is coming to a close. It has been another year of our God's grace showered down upon us. Through this past year, we have seen the almighty Shepherd-King reign over us and rescue us. Throughout this past year, we heard the Good News that our Shepherd-King has brought us out of the pit of our own sinfulness and brought us into the pasture of forgiveness and eternal life. Day after day, week after week, month after month, our Shepherd-King was reigning over and rescuing us, his sheep. What will the next year bring? Only our loving Shepherd-King knows all the details for certain. But as we close one Church year and look forward to another, the prayer on your lips and mine is "Come, Lord Jesus, come!" Amen.

 

 

Our Mission Statement:

Compelled by the love of Christ, St. Matthew’s Evangelical Lutheran Church and School seek to reach out to our families, community and world, using Law and Gospel to make disciples, growing and nurturing them in their Christian faith and life.

 

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Sunday
8:00 A.M. & 10:30 A.M.

9:15 A.M. Bible Study for All Ages

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St. Matthew's Lutheran Church
818 West Wisconsin Avenue
Oconomowoc, WI 53066
262-912-6060

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