John 10:27-28 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall snatch them out of my hand.
A wonderful thing happens at our baptism, God washes away our sin, works faith in our heart, and makes us a new creation that is how we become a child of God – God makes it so and when we were young our parents would remind us that, as the hymn says, "I am Jesus little lamb," not because of what we have done, but because of Jesus suffering and death which has redeemed us from sin, from death, and from the power of the devil. As long as we remain in Jesus hands we will always be safe – the problem is that sheep wander, and do not always stay where it is safe – for as they say, the grass always looks greener on the other side. Why is this so?
While God does indeed make us a new creation in and through baptism, the old flesh remains, and the ways of the world calls to us – Listen to me, follow me. Our struggle in this life, is quite simply who will we listen to and whom will we follow. Its not that baptism didn’t work. Its nor that Jesus suffering and death didn’t redeem us. It is a continuing question. Will we continue to hear and follow our Savior, or will we, as it were, change the channel?
As much as we love to hear about the love of God which is ours in Jesus Christ, sometimes what we hear is the law which shows us our sins.
Nobody likes to hear the law. Nobody like to hear that they are guilty.
And in this world, if you don’t like what you hear, we change the channel. The temptation is to listen to something else, to follow someone else, often without considering the cost, you see while there is much in the world to listen to and to follow – only in Jesus do we find the words of eternal life. My sheep hear my voice, and I given unto them eternal life, and the lost sheep are lead to the slaughter. Its just that simple – where do you want to be?
You see the hearing we speak of has nothing to do with how well your ears function, and everything to do with the word of God. The word of God is very much like a mirror -–it shows us our sins, and it also shows us our Savior. If you don’t look in the mirror, you can’t see – and often we don’t look in the mirror because we are afraid of what we might see – but as bad as it is to see our sins – without the mirror of the word of God, how will we see that we are Jesus little lamb, redeemed, forgiven, child of God, how will we see that we are "His sheep"?
That is why, when we baptize a child, the parents say, Yes, we will make certain he hears the word of God, and comes to know his Savior and Shepherd – and the congregation says, Yes, we will teach him, and help his parents raise him in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. We know we must be in the word of God daily. We all need training to hear, obey and follow our Savior, and to be reminded that we are his sheep.
There is a choice, and it is simple, whose sheep will you be? I’m not saying that you will be perfect, and I’m not saying that sin doesn’t matter – I’m saying that every day, in what we think, do, and say - we are answering the question, whose sheep will I be. We struggle, we are tempted, we often fail to listen to our Savior and to follow where he leads – but we keep coming back to him, because no where else can we find the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation that is ours in Jesus Christ. Or so we think.
But the real story is not what we do, but what our Savior does – for as often as we wander, it is he who find us, who carries us, who brings us to a safe place, and that is how we come to know how much he loves us. And in the end, that is why we follow, not because the law says we must, not because we are afraid of sin and death – but because we trust our Savior, we know the quiet waters and green pastures he provides, and we are thankful for the forgiveness and life we have been given in his name.
I am Jesus' little lamb, Ever glad at heart I am;
For my Shepherd gently guides me, Knows my need, and well provides me,
Loves me every day the same, Even calls me by my name.