Second Sunday after Easter
"And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep and there came a lion and a bear and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him and smote him and delivered it out of his mouth; and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and smote him and slew him." 1 Samuel 17:34-35
This noble deed shows that David had strength and boldness to fight against lions and bears, that he would protect his sheep. But all shepherds do not have such boldness to fight against lions and bears as David had, but most shepherds are such, that they flee away when the wolf comes, especially a hireling, when he sees the wolf coming he flees and lets the wolf ravage the sheep. But David had such boldness, that he went to fight with the lion and bear, although this was a very dangerous war, for both the lion as well as the bear are terrible beasts, who soon would rend the shepherd as you have seen and heard. The lion is such a beast, that nothing can stand against its strength; if it attacks a person, he will tear a person to pieces. But the lion also depends upon its strength and so overlooks a person and therefore David got to smite him. Neither is the bear a beast to be overlooked; whoever he pounces on must be well protected if he wants to protect his life. But then when he has just taken a sheep or some other animal from the flock, it is said that his nature is such that he does not then attack the shepherd, for which reason the shepherd can sometimes strike him, and this no doubt was one quiet lion and one quiet bear when through them no harm came to David. And from that happening David now made such a decision that he could slay that uncircumcized Philistine, for he was no more terrible or more fierce than a lion or a bear. There probably are not many such shepherds who will begin to fight with a lion and a bear just for the sake of one sheep. Our Saviour says in today's gospel that the hireling flees when he sees the wolf approaching. And so it has also happened, that the hireling has always fled when the wolf has come to rend and ravage the sheep. Some shepherds do not care at all about the sheep. Some hate the sheep and love goats. Some are so blind that they are not able to distinguish a sheep from a wolf. Such a shepherd does not care for the sheep at all. But he feeds the goats well, that he would receive much milk. Some certainly see the wolf coming, but do not protect the sheep, but let the wolf tear and ravage the sheep. Such now are the hirelings and paid shepherds, they do not begin to fight with the lion and the bear, but let the wolf rend and ravage the sheep. David was the first shepherd who began to fight with the lion and the bear and was able in that way to protect the sheep, and even snatched some sheep from the lion's teeth. But there have not been many after the time of David who have been able to protect the sheep from the teeth of the wolf, except that great Shepherd of Israel, who gave Himself into the battle with that terrible beast and was able with His own blood to save some, although few souls from the teeth of the wolf. That great Shepherd of Israel yet travels heavy, troublesome and bloody steps on the mountains of Israel, in the valley of Sharon, and near the River Jordan, calling and lamenting, but the lost sheep do not want to hear His voice, although He has sought them with sorrow and longing both in the Old and the New Testament. He has truely found some, but the greater share is still lost. And there is no knowledge of where he must find those wretches, who are now lost and in the desert of sin. His trouble is probably in vain; in vain He must cry out, to seek and long, when no footprints are seen, not on Mount Sinai, or in the valley of Sharon, or on Jordan's shore. Finally this world becomes dark and he must cease seeking those lost sheep. Then comes the wolf, then comes the bear, then comes the lion, and then all the beasts of the world come to tear, rend, and ravage those wretches who have not allowed themselves to be found in the daytime, who have not answered when the Shepherd has called out. O, great Shepherd of Israel, there are still many of those lost sheep here, who have not heard the Shepherd's voice, and if some would have heard, then however have not answered. There are also wolves, bears, lions and other beasts who ravage, destroy, and rend the sheep. Where is David now, that faithful shepherd who snatches the wounded from the mouth of the lion? Where is the Shepherd of Israel, who travels those heavy and troublesome steps, seeking those wretches who are lost. I hope that the great Shepherd will protect those lambs who bend their knees when the desire to such comes and sigh with humble and broken hearts. Our Father who art in Heaven, etc.
The Gospel: John 10:11-16
We must now through God's grace consider how the hireling flees when he sees the wolf coming, but the Good Shepherd gives His life for the sheep. May that great Shepherd of Israel allow that some sheep would be saved from the teeth of the wolf!
The hireling is such a shepherd who sees the wolf approaching, he is not altogether blind as some goatherds are, who do not see at all that the wolf is in the flock. But this hireling of which the Saviour has spoken sees the wolf coming. He sees, for example, how the liquor wolf ravages and rends the congregation, but he does not dare to give himself to fight with the liquor wolf, for he fears that the liquor wolf will attack him if he wants to steal some soul from his mouth. The liquor wolf will not spare the shepherd if the shepherd really does begin to fight with him. But the hireling is such a shepherd who cares not for the sheep, but herds only for wages? he flees before the liquor wolf and allows the liquor wolf to ravage and destroy the congregation. Such a shepherd does not dare to bark at the drunkards or whiskey merchants but lets them drink and fight in peace, so that he would not become hated by the congregation. Namely, it is known to all that when the best men in the congregation are whiskey merchants, then they become angry with all who spoil their trade, and the drunkards always bear spiritual hatred to those who bark at them for drunkenness. This hatred of the liquor wolf the hireling fears, and flees, he dares say nothing, not to the drinker or to the whiskey merchant, although he surely sees how the liquor wolf rends and ravages the congregation. If the wolf of whoredom comes into the congregation, then again the hireling flees, for he fears that the wolf of whoredom will kill him and certainly the wolf of whoredom will attack him if the shepherd wants to prevent him from rending and ravaging the congregation. We know that the wolf of whoredom came upon John the Baptist, for the royal whore had become so angry with John, that she had to ask for John's head on a charger. When a whore cannot fulfill her lusts in peace, she becomes black in countenance as a female devil and swears through body and life that she must get revenge. Although not one person is so unfortunate in time and eternity as one old whore, however her lusts burn like hell fire, and because of that lust she puts on all her finery so that she would be acceptable to the whorebuck. When the wolf of adultery comes into the congregation, then many poor come upon the congregation, not only those old whores who carry the devil's dung, but also those seeds of the whores who go around the countryside begging; these seeds of the whores do not know who their right fathers are. The devil of adultery also brings the poor upon the congregation of those who because of the lust of the flesh go into wedlock destitute. They have a strong faith in God, that surely God will feed them, but God has not promised to feed without a medium. Food does not come from nothing, but the devil of adultery also confuses the mind, that some become so blind that they cannot see their finger ahead into what kind of conditions they are allowing themselves, where poverty inevitably must follow. All these we see even with the intellect. But the whiskey merchants and whorebucks do not care about that, that they make poor people for the congregation and help lazy, unfortunate souls to hell before the alloted time. They only say, "Let each one answer for his own work, and let each one take care of himself." The hireling certainly sees them, he sees how the liquor wolf and the wolf of adultery destroy the congregation, but he does not dare to give himself to war against them. He would sooner flee from the congregation, before he would begin to fight with the liquor wolf or to battle with the whores, for he knows well that the best men in the congregation will begin to hate him if he would begin to fight with them. If the devil of greed comes into the congregation, which through foolish trading takes even the last money from the congregation, then again the hireling flees and says, "I will not begin to fight with them who bring merchandise into the congregation. Who wants to buy a silk kerchief, buy it, I will not begin to bark at them as silk whores. And they who bring fancy goods into the church need to earn through their trade. Although now everyone can see and understand even with his intellect that the silk whores must finally eat this excrement of worms, which they have bought when they were young, in which they have put all their earnings, but the other silk whores do not thereby become any wiser. Some silk whores, who firmerly in their youth have gone around in broadcloth and silk, can finally go around in rags; they can go along the roads and beg, but the others will not thereby become any wiser. The silk whores are always seen in the temple, on the streets and lanes, always such silk whores are seen who show their finery to the world, although they do not have a clean thread on their naked body when they come before God's judgement. Behold, thus now they live in the world, and although the hireling sees the wolf coming, he says nothing, but allows each one to live as the devil commands. The liquor wolf, the wolf of adultery and the devil of finery are certainly visible, and everyone who has an intellect should understand that such sins bring along with them poverty, nakedness, and natural distress already in this life, but the Saviour has said, "If I have told you earthly things and ye believe not, how shall ye believe, if I tell you of heavenly things?" If, namely, the hireling flees when he sees the liquor wolf coming, what will he then do when he sees other devils coming which are incomprehensible to him? If the devil of honor comes to invite him to some festivity, as a celebration, a christening, and wedding, that the hireling does not understand to flee, but gives himself into the company of the devil of honor, eats and drinks with him and says, "God does not deny innocent joy. Didn't the Saviour also go to eat and drink in the house of Simeon the leper, who was a chief Pharisee. The Saviour ate with publicans and sinners. He did not overlook God's blessing as these wild spirits that do!" Is that so? Is it written anywhere in the Scriptures that christenings and celebrations were held then? "Well" say the slaves of the world, who gladly keep their belly as their God and worship their colon; if a person is born, they must serve it, if someone dies, they must serve that same god of the colon. "Jesus went to the wedding." And why not, when the wedding was kept in fear of God? But now weddings are kept for the honor of that god who lives in the lower heaven; now they drink, curse, and fight at weddings, now they commit adultery and dance at weddings, now the devil receives honor when people are married. Was Jesus called as a guest to such a wedding? No, but the devil is called to such weddings where God's grain changes to devil's dung. As he has thus far taught the people to spoil God's grain, from now on he will teach them to spoil God's grain. When the hireling sees the whiskey wolf coming, he flees. When he sees the devil of honor coming, he goes along. Surely the hireling will not say to the devil of honor, "Get thee hence Satan, or confess your sin." The hireling does not say to the devil of greed, "Recompense your evil deed." The hireling does not dare to fight with even one beast. The liquor wolf ravages the congregation, but the hireling says nothing to the liquor wolf. If the devil of greed comes to fleece the congregation, the hireling says nothing. If the devil of honor comes to ravage, the hireling says nothing. If the devil of adultery comes to defile the congregation, the hireling says nothing. If the devil of finery comes to ravage, the hireling says nothing. All wolves can freely, and without interference, ravage the sheep. And when he sees the wolf approaching he flees. So it is true what the Saviour says in today's gospel, that the hireling cares not about the sheep or for the sheep. But our hope is, that the great Shepherd of Israel Himself will take care of His sheep in all places when they have scattered in the mountains of Israel, for as far as the hireling is concerned, all the beasts can rend and ravage the sheep. No doubt that great Shepherd of Israel takes care of His sheep and brings them to the best pastures, and protects them from the teeth of the wolf and also from snow storms and tempests, that they could for a short time rest near the cross on the hill of Golgotha, and finally on Mount Zion where the lame leap as deer and the lambs rejoice with the ewes forever. Amen.