Sermon title:  ’LIKE SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD’ WE NEED THE LORD

Luke 8:40-56

    Immanuel Baptist Church – Sunday, July 29, 2018

 

 

 

On the beautiful stained-glass window

behind you

we see our Lord Jesus pictured with sheep.

 

And that’s because Jesus often spoke of us as his sheep,

and himself as our shepherd.

 

The same illustration is used throughout the Old Testament

and the New Testament.

 

We’re all familiar with the 23rd Psalm, which begins,

 

“The Lord is my shepherd.

I shall not want.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures.”

 

And at John 10, Verse 11, Jesus says,

 

“I am the good shepherd.

The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

 

People in Jesus’ audience back in First Century Israel,

knew a lot about sheep.

 

Those animals had been a big part

of Israel’s agricultural life for centuries.

 

King David began as a shepherd.

 

And the angels announced the birth of the Christ child

to shepherds tending their flocks at night

outside Bethlehem.

 

But we, today, here in New England,

we aren’t that familiar with sheep.

 

So, without some explanation,

we would miss some of the significance

of our being Jesus’ sheep.

 

Back in the book of Genesis,

God divided his animal creation

into both wild animals and domestic animals.

 

The domestic animals were created and designed

to be cared for by humans.

Cattle, sheep and chickens were given us for food and clothing,

while dogs, cats and parrots were made for companionship.

 

Domestic sheep had been bred for centuries,

and were so domesticated

that they could no longer thrive, or even survive,

if left alone in the field.

 

Without a shepherd to care for them,

sheep would wander aimlessly.

They would get lost.

They would not be aware of dangers.

 

They would stumble into rugged terrain

and be injured—

ending up bruised, sore and sick.

 

And they would not be able to defend themselves

against predators like wolves.

 

Sheep without a shepherd would be in a pitiful condition.

 

And Matthew, Chapter 9 tells us,[  OPEN  ]

that’s how our Lord Jesus

found the people of Israel

when he came to live among them.

 

They were like sheep without a shepherd.

 

In Matthew, Chapter 9, beginning at Verse 35, it says,

 

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages,

teaching in their synagogues,

preaching the good news of the kingdom

and healing every disease and sickness.

 

When he saw the crowds,

he had compassion on them,

because they were harassed and helpless,

like sheep without a shepherd.”

 

Those Jews in the first-century crowds

were like sheep without a shepherd because

had false shepherds leading them.

 

Their religious leaders were divided mainly into two sects:

the Pharisees and the Sadducees.

 

The Pharisees abused the people.

 

They burdened them with man-made traditions

that they imposed on top of God’s laws.

The Sadducees were much like today’s liberal churches.

They no longer believed in the Scriptures.

They denied that angels existed

and left the people without any hope of life after death.

 

So, the crowds of people Jesus ministered to

lacked good spiritual leadership.

They were like “sheep without a shepherd.”

 

And, as a result, their situation was pitiful.

 

Our Responsive Reading this morning

covers two incidents in Jesus’ earthly ministry—

two miracles that our Lord performed:

Raising Jairus’s daughter from the dead,

and healing a woman

who had an abnormal flow of blood for twelve years.

 

They were separate events,

but they were woven together,

because the woman’s actions

interrupted Jesus

on his way to Jairus’s house.

 

And both incidents involved pitiful situations—

really sad.

 

Imagine, a 12-year-old girl sick in bed—

the only daughter of her parents—

and her sickness getting worse and worse,

her parents distraught,

with nothing left to do

but hope for a miracle.

It was a very sad situation.

 

And this woman with abnormal bleeding for twelve years—

her situation was very sad, as well.

 

She had spent everything she had on doctors,

but with no relief.

 

And the flow of blood made her unclean

according to the Kosher laws

that kept the Jews from spreading blood-borne diseases.

 

While unclean, a man or woman

had to avoid contact with other people

that would make them unclean.

 

So, this woman’s situation, too, was really tragic.

------------------------------------------

 

Let’s look at what happened,

in Luke Chapter 8, beginning with Verse 40.

 

It’s the Responsive Reading

printed in our Bulletin.

 

The parallel account

is also found in the Gospel of Mark, Chapter 5,

beginning with Verse 20.

 

I’ll be referring to certain verses there, too,

since Mark gives us some additional details.

 

But, as we read in our Responsive Reading, Luke 8:40 says,

 

40 Now when Jesus returned, a crowd welcomed him,

for they were all expecting him.

 

41 Then a man named Jairus,

a ruler of the synagogue,

came and fell at Jesus' feet,

pleading with him to come to his house

42 because his only daughter,

a girl of about twelve, was dying.

 

What a pitiful situation

for that father to find himself in!

 

Luke 8:43 then goes on to introduce the woman

who had a different problem.

 

43 As Jesus was on his way,

the crowds almost crushed him.

And a woman was there

who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years,

but no one could heal her.

 

In the parallel account, Mark 5:26 says,

 

26 She had suffered a great deal

under the care of many doctors

and had spent all she had,

yet instead of getting better she grew worse.

 

And then Mark 5 continues, in Verse 27, to say,

27 When she heard about Jesus,

she came up behind him in the crowd

and touched his cloak,

28 because she thought,

"If I just touch his clothes, I will be healed."

 

Now, remember, this lady was not supposed to be

mixing with crowds,

because anyone she touched

would become unclean, according to Jewish law.

But, she had the nerve

to sneak up behind Jesus, to touch his clothing.

 

She was desperate for help.

 

Luke 8:44 says,

 

44 She came up behind him

and touched the edge of his cloak,

and immediately her bleeding stopped.

 

Mark 5:29 says,

29 Immediately her bleeding stopped

and she felt in her body

that she was freed from her suffering.

 

Matthew’s account in Matthew 9:20 says

that she touched just the edge of his cloak.”

 

Some translations say “the fringe of his garment.”

 

In the Law God gave to the Jews through Moses

Numbers 15:38 and Deuteronomy 22:12

required that they wear fringes or tassels

on the edges of their garments,

as a reminder to obey God’s laws.

 

If you were moving about in a crowd

and someone touched just the edge of your coat

or just a fringe or tassel that was hanging

from the edge of your coat,

you wouldn’t notice it.

 

You wouldn’t feel anything.

 

And this woman touched just the outer fringe of Jesus’ cloak.

 

Jesus noticed it because, Mark 5:30 tells us,

 

30 At once Jesus realized

that power had gone out from him.

He turned around in the crowd and asked,

"Who touched my clothes?"

 

Of course, Jesus knows the innermost thoughts of our hearts,

so he would certainly know already

that someone touched him

and who that someone was.

But, he asked the question

to elicit certain responses

from the crowd and from the woman.

 

In Luke 8:45, it continues,

 

45 "Who touched me?" Jesus asked.

When they all denied it,

Peter said, "Master,

the people are crowding and pressing against you."

 

In that tightly-packed crowd, everybody was touching him.

 

Mark 5:31 says,

31 "You see the people crowding against you,"

his disciples answered,

"and yet you can ask, 'Who touched me?'"

 

But Jesus meant

that someone had touched him in a special way.

 

Luke 8:46 continues,

46 But Jesus said, "Someone touched me;

I know that power has gone out from me."

 

47 Then the woman,

seeing that she could not go unnoticed,

came trembling and fell at his feet.

 

In the presence of all the people,

she told why she had touched him

and how she had been instantly healed.

 

That was the response Jesus was looking for,

when he asked, “Who touched me?”

 

Verse 48 continues,

48 Then he said to her,

"Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace."

--------------------------

Remember, now,

Jesus was on his way to heal the daughter of Jairus.

 

But Luke 8:49 says,

 

49 While Jesus was still speaking,

someone came from the house of Jairus,

the synagogue ruler.

"Your daughter is dead," he said.

"Don't bother the teacher any more."

 

Jesus didn’t get there in time, it seemed.

 

But Verse 50 continues,

 

50 Hearing this, Jesus said to Jairus,

"Don't be afraid; just believe,

and she will be healed."

 

51 When he arrived at the house of Jairus,

he did not let anyone go in with him

except Peter, John and James,

and the child's father and mother.

 

52 Meanwhile, all the people

were wailing and mourning for her.

"Stop wailing," Jesus said.

"She is not dead but asleep."

 

53 They laughed at him,

knowing that she was dead.

 

54 But he took her by the hand and said,

"My child, get up!"

55 Her spirit returned,

and at once she stood up.

Then Jesus told them to give her something to eat.

 

56 Her parents were astonished,

but he ordered them

not to tell anyone what had happened.

 

 

In both of these incidents Jesus found his sheep

in a pitiful condition:

Jairus and his wife

with their 12-year-old daughter dying,

and a woman bleeding for years,

with no one able to help her.

 

When Jesus came to their rescue,

he was like a shepherd

coming across a neglected flock of sheep

and binding up their wounds.

 

The account in Matthew, Chapter 9, beginning in Verse 27,

also tells of others Jesus healed.[  OPEN  ]

 

As he walked among the crowds,

there were two blind men who followed him,

looking for healing.

And a demon-possessed man who could not talk

who was brought to Jesus,

probably by his family.

 

We read there, in Matthew 9, beginning in Verse 27,

“two blind men followed him...

Then he touched their eyes...

and their sight was restored...

a man who was demon-possessed

and could not talk was brought to Jesus.

 

And when the demon was driven out,

the man who had been mute spoke.

 

So, Jesus was performing

all sorts of amazing healings.

 

As we read earlier in Matthew, Chapter 9, beginning at Verse 35,

 

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages,

teaching in their synagogues,

preaching the good news of the kingdom

and healing every disease and sickness.

 

When he saw the crowds,

he had compassion on them,

because they were harassed and helpless,

like sheep without a shepherd.”

 

They were “like sheep without a shepherd.”

because their leaders had wandered far away

from God.

 

They had lost God’s blessing,

both spiritually and physically.

 

In the Book of Deuteronomy, Chapter 7,

God had promised good health and blessings

for the people of Israel,

if they obeyed him.

 

Deuteronomy 7, Verse 12 says,

12 If you pay attention to these laws

and are careful to follow them,

then the Lord your God will keep

his covenant of love with you,

 

And Deuteronomy 7:15 continues,

15 The Lord will keep you free from every disease.

He will not inflict on you

the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt

 

But then Deuteronomy Chapter 28

says that disobedience

would bring all those diseases on them.

 

Beginning at Deuteronomy 28, Verse 58, it says,

 

58 If you do not carefully follow

all the words of this law,

which are written in this book,

and do not revere

this glorious and awesome name-the Lord your God-

 

59 the Lord will send fearful plagues

on you and your descendants,

harsh and prolonged disasters,

and severe and lingering illnesses.

 

And that is what happened.

 

The Jews turned their hearts away from God,

and failed to keep the laws he gave them,

and so they suffered the consequences.

 

Ezekiel, Chapter 34[  OPEN  ]

tells us that Israel had rotten shepherds.

 

Israel’s political and religious leaders were like shepherds

who failed to care for the sheep.

 

And there in Ezekiel Chapter 34, God denounced those leaders

for not caring properly for his sheep.

 

The prophet Ezekiel writes in Ezekiel 34, beginning with Verse 1,

 

1 The word of the LORD came to me:

2 "Son of man, prophesy

against the shepherds of Israel;

prophesy and say to them:

 

'This is what the Sovereign LORD says:

Woe to the shepherds of Israel

who only take care of themselves!

Should not shepherds take care of the flock?

 

In Verse 4 he continues,

4 You have not strengthened the weak

or healed the sick or bound up the injured.

You have not brought back the strays

or searched for the lost.

You have ruled them harshly and brutally.

 

In Ezekiel 34, Verse 10, God makes clear

that he will hold such leaders accountable.

 

10 This is what the Sovereign LORD says:

I am against the shepherds

and will hold them accountable for my flock.

I will remove them from tending the flock

 

And God did remove those Pharisees and Sadducees

from shepherding his flock.

 

And, instead of them,

he sent his Son Jesus  to be our shepherd.

 

At John 10, Verse 11, our Lord Jesus says,

11"I am the good shepherd.

The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

 

Our Lord Jesus found the people of Israel in a pitiful condition.

 

They were “like sheep without a shepherd”

battered,   bruised,   knocked about   and dying,

physically as well as spiritually. 

 

People today are like that, too,

if they don’t know the Lord. 

 

The Apostle Peter wrote at 1 Peter 2:24-25,

 

“He himself bore our sins

in his body on the tree,

so that we might die to sins

and live for righteousness;

by his wounds you have been healed.

 

For you were like sheep going astray,

but now you have returned

to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.”

 

Youwere like sheep going astray.”

 

People need the Lord.

 

Here at Immanuel Baptist Church

we preach Christ crucified, risen and coming again.

 

When Jesus comes again

he will heal all disease

and put an end to all sickness.

 

The healings he performed back in the First Century—

like those we read about this morning—

they are just samples

of what he will do when he comes again.

 

That hope ahead assures us

that we are not going through

the troubles of this world for nothing.

 

We have the hope of eternity ahead of us—

eternal life with Christ

in peace and happiness forever.

 

And, in the meantime,

if we know Jesus as our Lord and Savior

he holds our hand

and comforts us

through the troubles of this world.

 

People need the Lord.

 

Jesus invites us to work in his harvest field,

to bring lost sheep to him.

 

In Matthew 9, beginning at Verse 37, he says,

 

“‘The harvest is plentiful

but the workers are few.

 

Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore,

to send out workers into his harvest field.’"

 

We have the privilege

of making the Gospel known to others.

 

We have the privilege

of working with Christ

to bring Jesus’ lost sheep into the fold.

 

May the Lord bless our efforts

as we reach out to help others who need the Lord.