April 17, 2016
Introduction: The title of my sermon is actually the title of a book written by Phil Hodges. Within this work he discusses how we can use Jesus as our model of how we are to lead others. In particular he states that we must have a personal relationship with God, (Mt 3:13 – 4:11) be able to share with people one on one, (Mt. 4: 18 – 24) then delegate responsibilities to them (Mt. 10: 5 – 10) and finally be able to give a vision for those we lead (Mt. 28: 19 – 20). This may be an especially interesting perspective given our election season as we examine different candidates to see if they would be a good leader using how Jesus led as a way of measuring their leadership skills. I thought I would use this work in particular today since we are celebrating ‘Good Shepherd’ Sunday. As we celebrate Jesus as the Good Shepherd how does this aspect of who he is inform how we are to lead and care for each other?
I) Jesus is walking beside the Temple and is approached by religious leaders wondering if he is indeed the Messiah. In the Synoptic Gospels these questions are posed at Jesus’ trial, in John these concerns are raised throughout the Gospel and may in fact be more in line with what actually happened. Jesus replied that he has already told them but they did not believe. Note the similarity between this response and Luke 22:67 “If you are the Messiah tell us. If I told you, you would not believe.”
II) The problem is they are not of the flock. Jesus goes on to say that those who hear his voice respond to it because they are of his fold, sheep of his flock. We are known by Jesus intimately. In order to be of his flock the implication is we must have a personal relationship with him. This is the first action we as leaders must undertake if we are to use Jesus as our role model. Thus we are willing to subjugate our will to his.
III) The difficulty we as leaders of the church have are we willing to put our own needs and desires second to those around us who need our care. Put another way what are we willing to give of ourselves on behalf of those God has given us? In the reading today, it takes place at the time of the Dedication of the altar which was accomplished after the Maccabean revolt. The entire backdrop of this passage is the consecration of the altar upon which the lambs would be sacrificed. So too, Jesus, the Lamb of God stands willing to give his life as a ransom for those whom have been given into his care.