In His great love for you, the Lord Jesus, God's own Son, your Good Shepherd has laid down His life for you. He has given Himself and spent Himself entirely for you. And He has taken His life up again; even as the Father has raised Him from death (for He and His Father are one), in order to raise you up from death to the life everlasting in Him.
By His Name — by the preaching of His Gospel in His Name; by the ministry of your Good Shepherd, who cares for you — you, who were sick, are made well. You are raised up to stand before God in good health. You are made strong and whole, and you shall live with Him forever.
Live, therefore, the life that He has obtained for you and given to you.
Keep His commandments, and do them. Follow Him, as He leads and guides you with His Word, and walk with Him in the right pathways of faith and love, for His Name's sake.
Believe in Him, the Son of God, your Savior and Good Shepherd. Believe that He was crucified for you, and that He has risen from the dead; that death no longer has any mastery over Him, and shall no longer master you. Listen to the voice of your Good Shepherd, and trust His good Word. Receive His good gifts. And live. Do not fear death, but live in Christ.
And love your neighbor, especially your brothers and sisters in Christ. You cannot love the Shepherd without loving His sheep: those of His flock, and those yet to be gathered to Him.
Do you want to know what love is?
You do know love, by this, that Christ Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has laid down His life for you, and for all His sheep.
You, therefore, lay down your life for the brethren. That is what you are to do. Give yourself and spend yourself entirely for your neighbor. Do not be afraid that you will overdo it or love too much. Do not flinch at the prospect of giving yourself away. If you die by loving, what have you lost? If you lay down your life in love, the Lord shall raise you up again.
If you see your brother or sister in need, then use whatever means and abilities you have to help. To love. But if you do not see or know your neighbor's needs, then open your eyes, and pay attention, and find out.
Do not speak of the Resurrection and the Life without living. Do not speak of God's love and Christian love without loving. And do not speak of the Gospel and forgiveness without forgiving.
This is the love of God; by which you know love, because He loves you.
The Father has given His Son for you, and the Son has laid down His life for you. In this way has He known you and loved you with the divine intimacy of the Father and the Son (in the Holy Spirit).
He has not held your sins and failures against you, but has given Himself to deal with them and to heal you at the cost of His own life.
He has not allowed your enmity and lack of love to dissuade Him, but He has befriended you in His grace, mercy and peace.
He has sought you out, His lost and wandering sheep, and He has become your Shepherd.
Such a Good Shepherd He is!
All His goods are yours, in heaven and on earth. He has even poured out His Holy Spirit into your heart through the forgiveness of all your sins by His Gospel, that you may have peace and hope and confidence in Him. That neither His own Law, nor your own heart, nor anyone else may condemn you.
That you may live, as He lives, in both body and soul, and dwell in His House with Him forever.
That you may love, as He loves, both God and man.
Such a Good Shepherd He is, little children, and you are His lamb, His dear sheep.
Here is the green pasture of His Word, with which He feeds you; by which He leads and guides you in righteousness and truth.
Here is the water of His Baptism, the anointing of His Holy Spirit, by which He has made you His own; to which He daily returns you in love; from which He leads you in quietness and peace.
Here is the Holy Cross, which is the Rod and Staff of His Gospel, by which He has atoned for your sins and redeemed you, and by which He has defeated death and the devil for you. So that you shall not die forever, but live in Him; and so that even death holds no power of fear over you. For by this Word of the Cross He absolves you, and where there is forgiveness, there is life.
Here is the Table, which He has spread before you, and the Chalice that overflows for you with His life-giving Blood; that by His Body you may belong to Him and abide in His Body forever, in His goodness and mercy all the days of your life, even the life everlasting.
For His Name's sake. Amen.
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