God's Shepherds Preach His WordEphesians 2:13-22
Pastor Nathan Buch
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
Kyrrixate. This Greek word posted at the entrance of the Seminary chapel. I never thought much about it as I walked under it every day. I probably should have known what that word meant, we were using Greek every day, but I didn’t. After awhile, I thought I should probably know what that meant, so I looked it up. I found out that the word was a simple command: it meant Preach. More specifically You Preach.
How fitting to remind men who are training to be pastors that when entering into the Lord’s house they will hear pastors who will be Preach. What a great reminder for young men preparing for the public ministry that they are preparing to Preach.
It seems like such a simple thing. You expect when you come on Sunday that you will hear pastor preach. Yet, if you go to any place that calls itself a church or a religious center, I am sure that they will say that they are preaching too.
So what do we preach and how do we know that it is pleasing to God? There were two other words that were next to that word Kyrrixate. at the Seminary entrance: Kyrrixate to Eueyyeliov. Preach the Good News. This morning, we will see that it is God who sends his shepherds to preach the Good News.
Did you hear the connection between the reading from Jeremiah and the Gospel reading? Both of those readings compared the children of Israel to a herd of sheep.
In Jeremiah, God is angry and for good reason. False prophets were destroying the faith of the children of Israel with their lies and false teachings. Instead of demanding that the false prophets preach the true Word of God, the people were following these false teachers into unbelief. As we heard last week, these false prophets were telling them what their ears wanted to hear.
Notice there was not much of a difference between the people of Jeremiah’s time and the people of Jesus’ time. At Jesus’ time the religious teachers and Pharisees were not preaching the Word of God either. They were shepherds who were leading the people in the wrong direction. With their rules and regulations they led the people to trust in their own works and not in the Messiah that was promised.
As we saw in our Gospel, when Jesus came, the people flocked to hear this new and different message. We also know that it wasn’t because all of the people truly believed in this Word. There was excitement and energy around Jesus. He not only came with a new message, he came with power to heal and do other miracles.
This excitement had the people chasing Jesus along the lake for quite a distance. Yet, when Jesus looked at them, notice what Jesus thought. Although they were seeking him, they were like a sheep without a shepherd. Although they were listening, they still did not know what all of this meant.
That picture of sheep without a shepherd is very interesting. I would guess that not many of us has had a flock of sheep to know what that comparison means. I was just watching a reality program on TV where it became very clear why sheep need a shepherd.
On this show, a man decided that he wanted to run a farm. When he made that decision he thought it would be nice to have a flock of sheep. He thought it would look so nice to have some sheep grazing on the land in front of his house. He thought sheep would be easy because they weren’t as big as other livestock.
He brought his idea to a few people. Everyone told him it was a bad idea. Everyone told him that sheep are so much work. But he bought his flock anyway. Here is where it got interesting.
On day one, the man who dropped the sheep off told him he had a problem. His 4 to 5 foot fences were not high enough. Although the sheep had wonderful food to feed on in the pasture provided, they would regularly bolt, jumping the fence and destroying it. The man had to hire another man whose only job was to fix the fences that the sheep broke. Plus he had to go round up his sheep constantly.
The sheep would never go from one place to another like they were supposed to. They would always run off. Then he would have to go round them up again.
Finally, after several weeks of chasing after sheep he realized he needed a shepherd. The shepherd came and she brought 3 dogs along with her. It was only when the man watched the shepherd and her dogs do their jobs that he realized how outmatched he was by a herd of sheep that did not have a shepherd.
If it is important for sheep to have a good shepherd, how important is it for God’s people to have a shepherd who is able to lead God’s people in God’s way with God’s Word?
We see God’s reaction in Jeremiah to the bad shepherds. We also see his reaction when there are no shepherds in Mark. Jesus loved the people. He had come to be the Good Shepherd to guide the people away from their unbelief to the truth that He was their Savior from sin.
With all of these words, God is impressing on us the blessing of His Word as it is preached by good shepherds that show the love of their Savior. He is also impressing on us the importance of his sheep being in the Word so that we do not follow bad shepherds or fall away.
Paul shows us what the Good News is built on. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.
In Ephesians, Paul is talking to people who believe, people like us. He says that it is Christ, the same one who loved those who were like sheep without a shepherd, who loved us from eternity and knew that we would need a Savior. He is the same one who loved us to die for us bring us, who were far off, lost in sin and unbelief, to be near to him through that blood.
Through faith, worked by the Holy Spirit, we are no longer straying sheep, going our own way. We are no longer people without a home, or outsiders to God’s love. Through Christ’s suffering and death, he has brought us to be part of his flock, near to him. He has adopted us into his family by his blood. And because of what he has done for us, we are his children and heirs of the eternity that Jesus has won for us and gives to us.
We did not bring ourselves to the door of Christ’s house through our works and ask to be in his family. We did not do enough in life to deserve what Christ has done for us. In many ways, we are worse than those people who were following Jesus along the coast. Although they were confused about who Jesus was, they still ran after him. How often do we run the other way in our faith and devotional life? How often do we have other things that come up so we have to skip the personal or family devotion? How many times do we not feel up to it on a Sunday morning? How often do we skip Bible Study for an early lunch or the game? How often do we skip church because it is not convenient for us?
This is why we need shepherds who preach the Word. God’s people do not stop sinning because we believe. Temptation doesn’t stop when we are God’s people. If anything the devil works harder to tempt us. What Good News will good Shepherds preach. That which is: Built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.
The old saying goes, “If everyone is happy with you, you must be doing something wrong.” That is true in a lot of ways with the Word of God. Look at the lives of the apostles and prophets. Look at how they were received. They did not have pleasant ministries that went well all the time. They often were met with resistance, persecution, and even hatred by the people, those in leadership, and even the other false prophets.
It is so easy to tell people what they want to hear, it is more difficult to Preach God’s Word built on the foundation of the apostle and prophets with Christ as the cornerstone. The message of the Apostles and Prophets was never their own message that they made up. Their message was not their own, it was always God’s message that pointed to his promised Messiah.
In the prophet’s case, it was the Word of God. It was Law pointing out the sin and unbelief of the people and calling them to repentance. In that call was the love of the Lord who was waiting to show them the love of their Messiah who would take away their sin. The Apostles did the same. They called the people to repentance and then when the people repented of their sin, they pointed them to the love of their God show in their Savior Jesus Christ. Our good shepherds preach the word in the same way.
When a shepherd preaches the Law it cuts like a knife. We not only see the sin in others, we see the sin in ourselves. We are born in sin. We struggle with sin. We sin every day in thoughts, words, and actions with sins that we know and those we don’t even realize. When we see our sins, it doesn’t feel good. If that is where the preaching would end, our lives would be endless running trying to please God, or endless worry that we have not done enough.
When a shepherd preaches the Gospel it heals the wounds of sin. The Gospel shows us the answer to sin. does not lie in ourselves, it lies in our perfect Savior who has taken away that sin by his death on the cross.
My dear Christian friends, did you hear the Law this morning? Did it cut? Did you hear the Gospel proclaimed? Did you rejoice in Jesus? Will you partake of the Gospel in the Sacrament in a few moments and see what Christ has done for you?
Look at your shepherds, listen to the message, make sure it is built on the foundation of the apostles and the prophets. If it is not, find someplace that is. If it is, rejoice and thank God because he sends his shepherds to preach the Word that leads to eternal life.