Strength from the Shepherd

Message Title: Strength from the Shepherd

Theme: Strength Through Trials

Season: ordinary time

Main Text: Jeremiah 23:1-6; 

Scripture Reading: Psalm 46

RCL Scripture:  Jeremiah 23:1-6; Luke 1:68-79 **; Psalm 46; Colossians 1:11-20; Luke 23:33-43

Focus: God is the Good Shepherd.

Function: To distinguish the Good Shepherd from the false shepherds and trust in the guidance of the Good Shepherd.

Other Notes: CHRIST THE KING SUNDAY

scripture reading: Psalm 46 For the music leader. Of the Korahites. According to Alamoth. A song. 46 God is our refuge and strength, a help always near in times of great trouble. That’s why we won’t be afraid when the world falls apart, when the mountains crumble into the center of the sea, 3when its waters roar and rage, when the mountains shake because of its surging waves. Selah There is a river whose streams gladden God’s city, the holiest dwelling of the Most High. God is in that city. It will never crumble. God will help it when morning dawns. Nations roar; kingdoms crumble. God utters his voice; the earth melts. The Lord of heavenly forces is with us! The God of Jacob is our place of safety. Selah Come, see the Lord’s deeds, what devastation he has imposed on the earth—9bringing wars to an end in every corner of the world, breaking the bow and shattering the spear, burning chariots with fire. 10 “That’s enough! Now know that I am God! I am exalted among all nations; I am exalted throughout the world!” 11 The Lord of heavenly forces is with us! The God of Jacob is our place of safety. Selah


INTRODUCTION: The internet is a funny place. You can access a Wikipedia list of “honorific” nicknames in popular music. [1] I’d like to hear your thoughts on the matter.

  1. AUDIENCE ENGAGEMENT: Name the….
    1. King of Rock – Elvis Presley
    1. King of Pop – Michael Jackson
    1. Queen of Soul – Aretha Franklin
    1. King of Blues – BB King
    1. Queen of Pop* – Madonna (Cher Empress of Pop)
    1. Others?
  2. Further questions:
    1. What designates an individual the royalty of their genre?
    1. Should new generations be able to claim their own musical royalty?
  3. It’s a little offensive to think a new generation could produce such greatness as these legends! But legends have to be born at some point in history, right?

TRANSITION: Today is Christ the King Sunday! This is a holy day where we celebrate our King on High. Jesus is more than the King of Pop; he is the King of Kings! To celebrate our King on High we are reading from Jeremiah 23 today and hearing God promise a coming shepherd… what will the shepherd be like?

main text: Jeremiah 23:1-6 Watch out, you shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture, declares the Lord. This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, proclaims about the shepherds who “tend to” my people: You are the ones who have scattered my flock and driven them away. You haven’t attended to their needs, so I will take revenge on you for the terrible things you have done to them, declares the Lord. I myself will gather the few remaining sheep from all the countries where I have driven them. I will bring them back to their pasture, and they will be fruitful and multiply. I will place over them shepherds who care for them. Then they will no longer be afraid or dread harm, nor will any be missing, declares the Lord. The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous descendant from David’s line, and he will rule as a wise king. He will do what is just and right in the land. During his lifetime, Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. And his name will be The Lord Is Our Righteousness.

EXPLAINATION:

  1. Context:
    1. Prophet: Jeremiah of Anathoth*, written down by a scribe named Baruch.
    1. Dating: BEFORE EXILE/FALL OF JERUSALEM
      1. Previous weeks: Haggai & Malachiwere both AFTER EXILE
    1. Audience: Southern Kingdom of Judah (after Northern Kingdom of Israel has been wiped out)
      1. Assyria à Babylonà Persia
  2. Content
    1. Calling out the false shepherds
      1. Divided and scattered the flocks
        1. driving them way
      1. Haven’t attended to their needs
    1. Good Shepherd
      1. Hope for the sheep
        1. Gathered up
        1. Led to a pasture
        1. Fruitful & multiply
        1. No fear, no harm, all accounted for
      1. king will care for them
      1. King of David’s line
      1. Israel & Judah will experience safety – United

INTERPRETATION:

  1. Much like the music world, the Bible contains an extensive list of rulers. But earthly kingdoms were not part of God’s original design. Today’s Israel & Palestine are not the same as the title of scripture. In Genesis 1, God created humans in God’s image and then commissioned them to work in tandem with God.
    1. That design didn’t stick. Humans had their own ideas of hierarchy that didn’t include God.
    1. Eventually the people of Israel, free from Egypt and slavery, were a sovereign people. But they didn’t want to follow God’s design. They demanded a king to rule over them so that they would look like the other nations.
      1. God placed Saul as king because he fit Israel’s expectations of a king. But it didn’t take long for the pressure of ruling to get to Saul. Saul failed Israel and God.
      1. God put David in next, David was considered a good king, though he was imperfect and did some things TERRIBLY wrong.
      1. Eventually Israel couldn’t agree on who would succeed David’s son Solomon, and the kingdom split in two.
    1. You get the idea that kingdoms were not part of God’s design?
    1. God wanted to be in direct contact with us. He didn’t want us to have human rulers. The weight of leading is a great temptation that frequently leads to failure. – Bribes or power
  2. God’s goal was to get us back to his design- humans and God working in tandem.
  3. God promised a shepherd, a king was coming.
    1. This Promised Shepherd is not like the false shepherds.
    1. This shepherd would ACUTALLY care about the wellbeing of the flock.
    1. The shepherd would prioritize the needs of the flock.

APPLICATION:

  1. We are called to trust in God’s design above any ruler that attempts to claim our loyalty.
    1. We just had mid-term elections. A bunch of politicians made promises in hopes of securing our votes.
      1. No politician is our Savior.
      1. No human government is going to fill the role of Jesus.
      1. No human government is going to satisfy the calling of the Church.
      1. No laws passed by governments is going to make us holy or righteous.
    1. Only the Good Shepherd fills those roles.
  2. Our Good Shepherd wants our flourishing.
  3. Our Good Shepherd promises an end to fear and pain and abandonment.
    1. Time to reflect on the Good Shepherd- song Prince of Peace (6 minutes)
    1. Time to think of our leaders- YES pray for leaders
      1. THIS SONG WILL REMIND US THAT THE Prince of Peace/ King of Kings is the Good Shepherd we can depend on.
      1. No matter what humans have designed, the Good Shepherd has God’s design in mind.

CONCLUSION: This Sunday is a reminder that hour faith, loyalty, security all belong to Christ, our one True King. The Prince of Peace, Lord of Lords, and King of Kings. Our Messiah. God made flesh. He has come and will come again. We wait in his trustworthy plan to come to fullness.


[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Honorific_nicknames_in_popular_music

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