May 16, 2021

Good Shepherd and the Sheep 25-04-2021

25th April 2021 Fourth Sunday of Easter
Title: Good Shepherd and the Sheep
(Scripture Readings: Psalm 23; John 10:11-18)
By Heeyoung Lim

Today we recognise the 106th Anniversary of ANZAC Day, when we honour a generation of young men from Australia and New Zealand and elsewhere who gave their lives so we can live in the freedom and peace. We need to remember the troops and veterans and their self-sacrifices.
As we know ANZAC stands for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. ANZAC day is the day that we remember their loss and sacrifice of the young people who protect other people’s freedom. In this time of peace, we will remember them and pray for them and their families.
My previous church, the Korean Church of Melbourne invited Australian veterans who fought for South Korea in the Korean War about 71 years ago and their families to express our gratitude and love once a year. Five years after the end of the Second World War, more than 17,000 Australians with the UN forces served during the three-year Korean War, of which 346 were killed there. They lost their lives for others in a foreign country.
We worshipped with them together, shared special meals, gave thank you cards and gifts. Especially all children prepared the thank you cards, sang a song in front of them on the day, gave warm hugs and gifts, and expressed sincere thanks to them every year. We taught children about the history and the meaning of their sacrifices. Sadly, the number of veterans is decreased because time passes by. But we deeply appreciate their sacrifices and commitments which are unforgettable.
On the other hand, South Korean government sent face masks and COVID-19 supplies to overseas Korean War veterans in 22 countries. They showed gratitude to every single Korean War veteran who is alive by sending COVID-19 protection items and the delivered boxes contained a message that South Korea has never forgotten them. There are lots of appreciation stories. For instance, a professional Korean photographer visited and photographed worldwide of 1400 of Korean War veterans in 14 countries including Australia. The veterans receive their portraits for free from a thankful young man from the country they fought for. The young photographer was using his own expense for that, he was not looking to be compensated. However, he said that there have always been so many supporters. He believed that photos can be an important tool that can document and convey today for tomorrow. Whenever he was asked about payment from the veterans, he answered that we have a lot of debt, this is just paying it back. He said that he learned the value of freedom, freedom is not free. It has a price, and the price was the life of those veterans. They tried to make nations peaceful and served for liberty and security through their sacrifices. The photographer wants to continue this so that the next generation can also remember and appreciate the valuable sacrifices.
We are at peace wherever we stan with God, but the peace maintained and kept by someone else’s sacrifices and commitments. Our salvation has a price too; the price is Jesus’ life-giving love and sacrifice.
Jesus told us that he is the good shepherd. The definition of a shepherd’s task is to feed the sheep adequately, care when they sick, keep them gathered, and put their well-being before his own. Such model shepherding might require the laying down of one’s life, it also needs recognition and trust between sheep and shepherd.
Through the Psalm 23 we found and felt God’s presence that enables us to overcome the fear that rises in us when being confronted by death. We know the fact that the Lord is our good shepherd even when walking through the valley of death
In John 10, we hear that “the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus expressed himself as good shepherd. This verse shows us how the good shepherd who is not working for his own profit differs from that false shepherd who runs away from dangerous situations for himself. (10, 14)
In contrast to those who steal and abuse the sheep, Jesus is a caring shepherd who takes care of the sheep even to the “laying down his life”. The good shepherd who sacrifices his life for the sheep also relates to them in trust and intimacy; good shepherd dies for the sheep when predators appear.
The good shepherd knows his sheep in the same way the Father knows the Son; the sheep know the shepherd in the same way the Son knows the Father. The Lord talked about laying down his life for the sheep five times in eight verses. The shepherd intentionally becomes the sacrificial lamb. (18)
Jesus said that He must bring those who have not yet been brought into the one flock which is one body of Christ. (16) His death on the cross did not occur because earthly powers were stronger than the power of the heavenly Father. He willingly laid down his life for the sheep in accordance with God’s will. (17) Christ is the Word of God, the message of the self-giving love of God, who did not want the world to perish. (18) The shepherd alone decides who may enter the fold, but the voice of Christ calls out to all people.
The shepherd’s voice is key, but sometimes we go astray just like sheep. Sheep may follow the voice of a stranger, get lost and fall into valleys. Many other voices and distractions tempt us from the right path. However, our good shepherd, Jesus will never leave us, and His voice will bring us back because we belong to him. Sometimes we are getting into troubles and struggling in difficulties, but we always have opportunities to listen to the voice of our good shepherd in our daily choices. We also have chances to be faithful as the Lord’s sheep. We can say ‘No’ to some tempting voices that is not the will of God and say ‘Yes’ to the Lord because Jesus is here and there going before us and leading us.
The Good Shepherd makes the sheep feel safe, guards the sheep, provides for them, and cares for them. A true shepherd provides the sheep with a genuine shelter, but a hired hand runs away and turn the fold into a dangerous place.
Good shepherds are keeping watch over their flocks by night and seeking out the lost or those in need of being rescued. The sheep feel secure just to hear the voice of the shepherd. I hope the good shepherd’s voice will be conveyed through us to the lost and hurting.
Our good shepherd does not merely care for the sheep, but also gathers the flock continually. I pray that people who see, hear, and believe in Jesus will belong to the kingdom of God and will grow continually. God’s community needs to be open and inclusive. We need to become more like Jesus who embraced the outcast, the oppressed, and the overlooked. We are to provide a space where all are welcome so that all church members can experience the culture of the kingdom of God in our church and related faith communities.
The image of the Good Shepherd is giving us a powerful influence for us who thirst for a true relationship in a society that values individualism and secularism. Our good shepherd, Jesus takes good care of us who experience the moments of loneliness and hopelessness, He responds to our deepest fears and anxiety by offering peace and hope. Jesus is our good shepherd who willingly died on the cross to save us and he offers shelter and security to all who follow Him. Following Him means becoming more like Jesus. We can all become loving and caring good shepherds to each other. The term of good shepherd is not just related to ministers or leaders, but It is also connected to all of us.
Risen Jesus asked and said to Peter three times. “Do you love me?” Whenever Peter answered Jesus “I love you”, Jesus told him “Feed my lambs” (21:15), “Take care of my sheep” (21:16), and “Feed my sheep” (21:17). There was love and care between the good shepherd and the sheep. I hope and pray that we can demonstrate our total trust in the Lord by true loving and caring.
The Good Shepherd offers salvation and shelter for the Lord’s sheep. He will protect at any cost those followers who are intimately known to the shepherd. No one can tear us away from Jesus’ love and His shepherding. I believe that we are safe and secure when entrusting our lives to the Good Shepherd. I pray we can faithfully respond to the Lord’s shepherding by our ‘gathering’, ‘listening’, ‘caring’, and ‘blessing’.

Thanks be to God. Amen.
(Ref. Bible, commentaries, theological books, UCA materials)