4th Sunday of Easter
May 7, 2017
Grace, mercy, and peace be and abide with you all in the name of our living Savior Jesus. The basis for the sermon is today’s Gospel lesson from John 10.
My dear friends,
If you read the sermon title for today, you saw the sermon is called “Door Sunday.” “Really? It’s Doors Sunday? You mean that group from the 1960s that sang ‘Light My Fire’ and ‘Break on Through’ and ‘LA Women?’ Wow…when did church get so cool?” Well, church has ALWAYS been cool. But it’s not Jim-Morrison Doors Sunday. But look again at today’s Gospel lesson. Door. Door. Door. Door. In Greek and Hebrew for that matter, one way to really emphasize something was through repetition. Four times in only ten verses…that’s emphasis! Jesus uses the same word “Door” over and over. Four times! Door. Door. Door! Door!
The point to be emphasized is that Jesus is the Door. Through the door of his holy life and blood sacrifice, we go into eternal life. Through him and him alone, we have heaven and I don’t need a 4-year-old whose dad wrote a book to tell me that Heaven is for real. We have the Door. He’s a door dripping not with stain and varnish, but with water and blood through whom we find good pasture.
Outside of him is the way the thieves and robbers operate; they don’t use the door. That’s how the devil and the other false teachers of this world tempt us to believe that our salvation and life and eternity are all really based on something YOU do. Inside of you there’s a great person who just needs to ne hosed off a little bit, right?
Sounds ludicrous, right? But many mainstream Protestant churches are teaching this kind of stuff! If you’re going to be “worthy” to walk through that door, then you have to do this, do that, change this, change that, pray hard, work harder, sing louder, praise more joyfully, give even harder still, and then maybe God will count you worthy to be saved. And in all this “you doing” stuff, you make yourself the door. You are actually the one who, by what you do and don’t do, determines if you are in the sheep pen or not. Sadly, it’s a popular teaching that many of your family members and friends are being exposed to – the idea that YOU are the door through which you get into heaven. Hey…you’re NOT the door; you’re the sheep! The Lord uses that word six times today. Sheep. Sheep. Sheep. Sheep. Sheep. Sheep. Maybe it should be “Sheep Sunday”!
But you aren’t just anyone’s sheep. He is the Good Shepherd and you are his sheep. You have heard his voice. Each of you BY FAITH is a sheep. You are each uniquely loved, particularly cared for, and led out to pasture by him. He called you by name.
I’m no expert on sheep; I didn’t grow up on a farm per se, but it was still rural. Sheep really couldn’t survive that far north so most farmers had cows instead. To me, all sheep look the same. In my mind they’re all white(ish), fuzzy, and go “baaaaaah.” But to the Lord, each sheep is unique. To Him, you are more than a faceless, nameless herd. You have value and worth and God shows you that worth at the cross of Christ. He gave you your name. He names his sheep at the baptismal font. In the water, the Word, and his name, we were marked as sheep of the flock of the Good Shepherd.
Jesus the Good Shepherd is the Door for the sheep. He’s the way into the sheep pen. He’s the way out to green pasture and still waters. And, contrary to popular belief, He’s not just any door or anyone’s door; He is as unique a door as you are a unique sheep. Jesus is your Door. He’s your way into not just life, but life eternal. You are the sheep. He is the Good Shepherd. He lays down his life for you. In the 1st century that was unheard of! That’s why the Pharisees struggle so much to understand.
Hireling shepherds were anything but good or noble. When the wolves or thieves would show up, the shepherds had a choice between their lives and the sheep. “Hmm. Do I want to live and see my family and save my money to finally go on a cruise, or do I want to fight with my bare hands and this stick to protect these stupid sheep I don’t even own? I’m gonna go with the cruise!” The hired hand shepherd bolted, and the sheep were slaughtered.
For the thief comes not to pet or play nice with the sheep, but to steal, kill, and destroy. The ultimate thief would draw you away. He would try to steal you – to destroy and kill your faith; spiritual murder. The devil will show you a door that looks so promising and inviting and pleasurable…it’s a lie! The only thing that you’ll find behind that door is the blackness of sin and death.
But your Shepherd/Door—he gave up his life for you. He goes before you, protects, guides you. He meets your enemies (sin, death, devil) head-on and defeats them for you. You follow him, for you know his voice.
Doors Sunday? Sheep Sunday? Nah, better than all of that is Good Shepherd Sunday. Today is the Sunday when we celebrate that Jesus is our Shepherd – YOUR Shepherd – and the Door through whom we have life everlasting and have it abundantly forgiven.
Happy Anniversary GSLC! Amen.