Worship Helps for Easter 4

Christ the Good Shepherd
Bartolome Esteban Murillo

Worship Theme: Jesus is our Good Shepherd. We are his sheep. Our Good Shepherd loves us so much that he gave his life for us. He knows us all by name. He protects us from our enemies. He gives us courage and strength. He continually brings more sheep into his fold. He promises heaven to all who believe in him. How great is the love that God has lavished upon us!

First Lesson: Acts 20:28 Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. 29 I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30 Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31 So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 32 "Now I commit you to God and to the word of his grace, which can build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

1. How did God acquire the church of God, according 20:28?

2. Who are the “savage wolves” whom Paul mentions (20:29)?

3. What is our true hope and strength against such difficult enemies, according to 20:32?

Second Lesson:  1 Peter 5:1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ's sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care, serving as overseers-- not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

4. Instead of calling himself an apostle, or even “the leading apostle,” what did Peter call himself?

5. Why does Peter say that Jesus, the Chief Shepherd, will “appear,” not arrive or the like?

6. What will you receive when the Chief Shepherd appears?

Gospel: John 10:11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd who owns the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 "I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me-- 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father-- and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life-- only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

7. What, above all, proves that Jesus is our Good Shepherd? (See 10:11.)

8. What else does Jesus do for us?

1. God acquired the church by buying her with his own blood.

2. The “wolves” to whom Paul refers in 20:29 are false teachers, men who distort God’s truth and who seek to gain followers for them. They lure away former believers by those distortions.

3. Our hope and strength against such enemies is God’s Word itself, the same Word that the false teachers distort. God’s Word builds up believers in faith, and it gives us a place among those who are being set apart to lead holy lives for God.

4. Peter called himself a “fellow elder,” and a “witness to Christ’s sufferings.”

5. Peter says Jesus will “appear” because, though we cannot see him, Jesus has not left us. He is right here with us in his Word and sacraments. On the last day we will finally see him, when he makes himself visible.

6. When the Chief Shepherd appears, we will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away.

7. Jesus proved that he is our Good Shepherd by willingly giving up his life for us his sheep.

8. Jesus also protects his sheep. He knows and loves each of his sheep personally. His sheep know and love him. He regularly brings new sheep into his flock, too.

Putting your faith into action
Among the many names given to Jesus is “the good shepherd” as described in this section of the gospel of John. His job as a shepherd, he says, is to “lay down my life for the sheep.” Because he has complete knowledge of all of us, and “my sheep know me,” there is an intimate relationship between him and his sheep, all of us who believe in him. But Jesus goes on: “I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also.” A good shepherd uses all the resources at hand for the benefit of the sheep. Similarly, our resources, given to us for our needs, should also be used in bringing in the “other sheep.” We look to Jesus as our model for obedience and unconditional love, and we, in turn, are to be models for others “not of this sheep pen.”

A reading from the Book of Concord for the Fourth Sunday of Easter
In Dr. Luther's Large Catechism this is written: I am brought into (this little holy group and congregation of pure saints) by the Holy Spirit through having heard and continuing to hear God's Word. In the past we were altogether of the devil, knowing nothing about God and about Christ. So, until the Last Day, the Holy Spirit abides with the holy congregation or Christendom. Through this congregation He brings us to Christ and He teaches and preaches to us the Word. By the Word He works and promotes sanctification, causing this congregation daily to grow and to become strong in the faith and its fruit, which He produces.
The Catechism does not mention our cooperation. It credits everything to the Holy Spirit who, through the preaching office, brings us into the Christian Church, sanctifies us, and causes us to grow in faith and good works.
Even in this life the regenerate advance to the point that they want to do what is good and love it, and even do good and grow in it. Still, this is not of our will and ability, but of the Holy Spirit. Paul says that the Spirit works such willing and doing (Philippians 2:13). In Ephesians 2:10 he credits this work to God alone, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." – Formula of Concord, Solid Declaration, Article II, Free Will (paragraphs 36-39)

Text of the Hymn of the Day: The King Of Love My Shepherd Is
The King of love my shepherd is,
Whose goodness fails me never;
I nothing lack if I am his,
And he is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow,
My Savior gently leads me,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feeds me.

Confused and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love he sought me
And on his shoulder gently laid
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death's dark vale I fear no ill
With you, dear Lord, beside me,
Your rod and staff my comfort still,
Your cross before to guide me.

You spread a table in my sight,
A banquet here bestowing;
Your oil of welcome, my delight;
My cup is overflowing!

And so through all the length of days
Your goodness fails me never.
Good Shepherd, may I sing your praise
Within your house forever!


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