O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
I shall not want
I shall not want
Based on John 10:11-18 and Psalm 23
Preached on April 26, 2015
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In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.
The LORD is my shepherd. I shall not want. We hear it, and it comforts us. But have you ever thought about what it means? I shall not want. What do you mean, I shall not want? I want all sorts of things. I spend most of my day thinking about what I want. My eyes show me what I want. My ears pickup what I want. My stomach tells me what I want. My heart is a factory of wants, all it does is point out things that I want.
The LORD is my shepherd. I shall not want. Adam was given paradise in the garden, but he wanted more. He wanted more than what the LORD his shepherd had provided. And when he went for it, it made him run away from God. Like a scared, lost sheep, he ran away. He hid. He had sinned and he didn't know what to do.
The heart of Adam is the heart of mankind. You suffer from this same fall. Your heart follows along in Adam's footsteps - wanting, snatching, sinning. In fact, it is sin. It is the cause of every sinful action, the root of every sinful thought. Out of the heart comes evil thoughts, Jesus says, for the heart of man is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick - Jeremiah writes - who can understand it? I have sinned, and I don't know what to do.
The LORD is my shepherd. I shall not want. But in my sin - I DO want - I want things I have not been given, and it makes me want to run away from God. I want to hide. I want to show it wasn't my fault - because it was their fault or their fault or their fault. I don't want to own up to what I've done . I don't want to be exposed. I don't want to be anywhere near the shepherd. I am terrified. I don't want to be punished. I don't want to be punished.
But this psalm isn't talking about you. It is talking about the One who comes to save you - the One who comes to create a new heart in you. The One who lays down His life. This is about Christ, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. He is the One who cries "The LORD is my shepherd. I shall not want." He is the Only Lamb who can say this.
Friends, Jesus did not run away like Adam, or like you. He went to the cross willingly - like a lamb led to the slaughter. Jesus did not want to hide either but spread His arms before the whole world, shed His blood in broad daylight - shame and all. And Jesus had done nothing wrong - He was not to blame, a lamb without blemish or spot, yet He took the punishment. He faced the fear. He suffered and was sacrificed for you.
And through it all this Lamb of God trusted His Father saying, "The LORD is my shepherd. I shall not want." Not what I want, but what you want, Father. I trust you - to the end. Through the end. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, even though you slay me, yet I will hope in you. I will fear no evil, for you are with me.
Jesus lived these words - He did these things for you. To restore to you what Adam lost. Trust in God. He came to lead us in different footsteps than Adam did. In paths of righteousness. Paths that lead away from sin - away from shame and guilt - away from death. He came to stand up for us. To protect us from our sin - to shield us with His own body, like a shepherd defending His flock - but these are not physical enemies - they are the enemies of your soul. Your shame. Your feelings of guilt. These are what He throws Himself in front of for you. These deep personal hidden things, that only you and He know. These are what He cannot bear to see you suffer, so He lays down His life for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd, Jesus says. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. Because I WANT TO! I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. And this is how I will bring you back into my flock. This is how I will return you to my Father, though your heart would run and hide from me. I am searching for you with my death and resurrection. Calling you home to a clean slate - one without shame and guilt and fear. One that cannot change because of your sin - but is rooted in my righteousness alone.
I was driving down St. Mary's the other day, and I noticed a roadside sign that said You will soon be given good advice. It was a bold promise. But it was based on nothing. Empty words. Wishful thinking with no real power. Then these words of Jesus struck me like rod and staff. The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. The promise of Christ is not based on some sort of dream or wish. The promise of Christ is not some cheesy cliché we hope will happen. It has been forged by the blood of the Lamb. It is made on His death and resurrection. Its power is sacrifice. Pure and holy.
But the best part is, that you have been washed in the blood of this Lamb. Baptized into this Only Lamb of God. And where once the 23rd psalm wasn't talking about you - now it is yours - because you are in Christ. Now you can make it your own because you live in your Risen Lord by baptism and He is at work in you. The heart of Adam must now contend with His Holy Spirit who works to create a clean heart in you - one that can say "The LORD is my shepherd. I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me. Your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil. My cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever."
You have peace in the promises of God. In Christ. You have contentment. Assurance that He will provide for all your needs of body and soul. He has given you ears to hear His Holy Word. Faith that knows His voice and trusts it. And you have certainty about the future, for you have His goodness and mercy now, and you will have it forever, even in His own house.
Just look at what He prepares now - in our midst - His table - an overflowing cup of forgiveness and mercy. Shame, guilt, doubt, fear - old Adam and all - your LORD prepares this table before you in the presence of your enemies. He wants them to see. He wants them to witness that they no longer have any claim upon you. That they can no longer accuse. For right here in their presence. Right here as you carry them up with you - the blood of the Lamb shall wet your lips. Its cleansing power shall fill your mouth and your enemies shall be utterly silenced by God's eternal declaration of forgiveness.
The good shepherd strengthens the trust of His sheep so that we learn contentment. So that we have enough in Him. So that our energy and our time is spent seeking out what our neighbour needs. So that the shepherd is shown to be good.
Jesus is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. And He is the good shepherd who lays down His life for the sheep. But He has taken it up again, and His shepherd voice - His promise calls you now. So bring forward your shame and your guilt, bring it up and cast it on Him, for there is one He wants - and it is you. In His Holy Name, Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr