: Psalm 23, John 10:11-18
“Show me the money”
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides 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 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 will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Psalm 23, the best known and best loved of all the psalms. It gives us two graphic pictures of God’s intimate relationship with one of His people. The first the here and now: our shepherd Christ and his sheep. The second the host and his guest: when we will dwell in the fathers house with its many mansions of which Jesus spoke, where in John 14 He said He was going to prepare a place for His own.
Psalm 23, beautiful words of encouragement.
Martin Luther described it as “A psalm of thanks in which Christian hearts praise and thanks God for teaching them and keeping them on the right way, comforting and protecting them in every danger through His holy Word.”
And in our gospel we heard the words of the Good Shepherd, Jesus, who assures us that his sheep know his voice and follow him, and he leads them that they might have life, and have it abundantly.
When I was six years old we moved to a new town to live and I became good friends with my neighbour. We were the same age, in the same class at school and particularly in our teenage years we travelled together through many joys, heartaches and dangers. In my early twenties I was moved away in my job. Sometime after, a year maybe, I cannot remember any more my dad rang: “Steve, I’m very sorry but your best friend has taken his life”. My friend had driven his car into the garage, covered the inside with enough petrol that it blew down the side of the house.
His family. How they must still carry those scars with them, as we all carry scars of pain and hurt.
“Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life”. There have been times when those words were a little foreign to me, in fact down right confusing.
All I wanted was to Caption the Australian Cricket team, Play football for Port Adelaide, drive a Lotus and live on the beachfront-seriously it that too much to ask. It seems it was.
Truth is I did not want those things (except for the Port Adelaide bit)-but you get my point. Being what do we really consider as goodness and mercy. Similar, it can be difficult for us to tell the voice of the true and good shepherd from the voice that comes to steal and destroy.
The thief that says the only version of abundant life is that it be living in worldly abundance.
Goodness and mercy, our shepherd: the problem isn’t that they are not there; it’s that sometimes we don’t see them-they may be hidden behind our expectations, even hidden in our painful experiences.
We think of the thief on the cross and are given much hope and peace when we hear that this man was saved at the last minute after leading what we assume was a pretty ungodly life. It’s a marvellous picture of Jesus love. But the truth is Jesus love and forgiveness was there all along. It would have been very difficult for the people of Israel not to have heard of Jesus and his message, including this thief. The miracle is not that that Jesus gave forgiveness to this thief; the miracle is that he came to see it, accept it.
My friend, he lived a very pained life, but in the months prior to his death-amongst all his troubles he came to see Jesus. I know this because he used to ring me, preach to me and encourage me to follow the Lord. Somehow in those last months, he saw clearly his saviour the Lord Jesus-A miracle.
Yes, Goodness and mercy, Jesus, followed him all the days of his life.
Last week we heard where Jesus carried the physical scars from his crucifixion before the disciples, to heal their scars of doubt-to bring them the truth of what he has done, to bring them hope in that though they will suffer persecution as he did, that though they will suffer the scars of life-they carry with them hope and the sureness that Jesus travels with them.
That Goodness and mercy travels with them.
That was a promise given to the disciples, and given to us. And given to Riley today in his baptism. What a wonderful comfort for Lloyd, Sonja and Riley. It is a promise that is liberating for we see looking back how through our lives our Lord was there, even in the times when it seemed otherwise. It is liberating because we go forward knowing it to be true-to live, to be alive, to see the beauty and gift of friends, loved ones, to be ourselves, to love others as they are-to really live come what may because we know
The Lord is our shepherd, we shall lack nothing. He makes us lie down in green pastures, he leads us beside quiet waters, and he restores our soul. He guides us in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil, for you are with us; your rod and staff they comfort us. You prepare a table before us in the presence of our enemies. You anoint our heads with oil; our cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy will follow us all the days of our life, and we will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
Yes he does, and yes we will. Amen.