The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long.
Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
This is probably the second my known passage in the bible – do you know what is the first?
It has been adapted in a variety of ways ….
Coffee Psalm, Golfer’s psalm, bush psalm, programmer’s, workers, choir psalm, a politically correct psalm and even an anti-psalm – one that has turned the psalm around.
Why has this been particular passage been used is such different ways. I don’t know of any other passage of the bible that’s been used like this?
Maybe it is because this is one passage that people memorised years ago. Maybe it that all sorts of people find comfort from these words, even those who don’t profess any faith.
They are powerful words and ones that we can so easily gloss over. However
I really want Jesus to be my shepherd
I really want all that the 23rd Psalm promises all that Jesus promises to be true for me… and from all the people, I am pretty sure that you want that too. You want a God to watch over you —
A God to protect you —
A God to bless you —
A God to seek you out when you go astray –
A God to comfort you when you hurt
A God to heal you when you are ill –
A God to walk with you when you walk through the valley of the shadow of death
A God to bring you into paradise when you die.
I want – You want
I think we all want this –
and God says to all of us –
Jesus says to all of us –
You can have it – you can have it from me – for I am the good shepherd.
I am the one who looks after his sheep; the one who loves his sheep with a love that is stronger than death.
39 So Peter got up and went with them; and when he arrived, they took him to the room upstairs. All the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing tunics and other clothing that Dorcas had made while she was with them. 40 Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed. He turned to the body and said, “Tabitha, get up.” Then she opened her eyes, and seeing Peter, she sat up. 41 He gave her his hand and helped her up. Then calling the saints and widows, he showed her to be alive. 42 This became known throughout Joppa, and many believed in the Lord. 43 Meanwhile he stayed in Joppa for some time with a certain Simon, a tanner.Acts
New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
Dorcas was a strong woman of faith – She must have had a profound influence on the people around her. She was possibly known by Peter which is why he came quickly when he heard of her death.
Who are the women who have been significant in your life of faith?
9 After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10 They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
11 And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 singing,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
16 They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;
17 for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
New Living Translation (NRSV)
Are we his Sheep?
Do we see the end game?
Do you see how these reading feed into each other?
The psalmist affirms that we should fear no evil, despite the reality of threat. We know that we all go through the valley, and live with our fears. We only get through the journey because of our confidence in God’s companionship.
The author of Revelation is also reminding us that we are not sealed or baptized from challenges of life but rather we are made ready to go through whatever comes against us in our faith journey. In other words, our faith does not exempt us from sickness, betrayals, wars and other calamities but our participation in these parts of life signals God’s presence in and around our lives through and beyond this life. gives us a peek into heaven.
All people are included – every tribe and tongue – all worshiping together. All praising the Lamb. Last week we heard the praise as
“Worthy is the Lamb who was slaughtered—
to receive power and riches
and wisdom and strength
and honour and glory and blessing.”
“Blessing and honour and glory and power
belong to the one sitting on the throne
and to the Lamb forever and ever.”
This week we hear “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
and from the Lamb!”
Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen
It is amazing image of all these people around the throne of God – singing, praising and worshiping. Remember that this book was written to a group of Christians who were struggling, and John is reinforcing that there is an endgame, there is a future. That despite the difficulties that they are going through at the moment, that God is still there.
That all tragedy, terror, and trauma will be healed through the power of God. People in the faith will die and be lost to us but they are never lost to God. God will wipe away ever tear, heal what is broken, and bring wholeness to our wounds.
God does not hold his people in suspense but will always reveal to them their future; either in dreams and in real words of comfort, communion and prophecy. Heavenly hope does not turn us away from the world but enables us to live courageously when all external hope seems to be gone.
And finally, our gospel passage Jesus is the Good Shepherd, we are his sheep and we need to listen to his voice.
It is reinforcing what the other passages are saying and anchoring it in the life of Jesus. If we belong to Jesus, if Jesus is our Shepherd, then when we get lost and are feeling dazed and confused, Jesus will look for us and find us. What a moment of grace, joy, and peace it is when we hear Jesus calling our names. You see; Jesus knows us. He told the Jews about his flock and said, “I know them.”
Life is rarely easy. Life has its bumps and bruises, hurts and wounds. We find ourselves lost and depressed. We feel dazed and confused. If we belong to Jesus, if Jesus is our Shepherd, Jesus will look for us, find us, recognize us, bind our wounds, and take us to still waters and green pastures. Indeed Jesus says in John 10:28, “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.” What a great blessing!
Are you getting this message this morning?
I will led to the still waters, to the green pastures,
My rod and staff protect and comfort you
I will wipe every tear you cry.
You will feast at my table, you will hunger and thirst no more.
I will be your shepherd, I will call you by name.
I will constantly go out to find you if you wander away from me.
I will guide you to springs of the water of life.
Aren’t these great promises that we can hang on to in the midst of life’s crises..
What is our part in all this
To trust in these promises
To listen to his Voice
To give praise and worship to the one who saves and loves us.