Sermon Audio & Transcript
Good Shepherd Sunday – 05/07/2017
Jesus Is The Door
Grace mercy and peace to you from God our father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ., Amen.
Dear fellow sheep of our Lord’s flock. I owe my very existence to a dog. How many of you have a dog? How many of you have two dogs? How many of you have three or more dogs? Why did Danny cringe when I asked that question? We have one dog. His name is Jack. Why do I owe my existence to a dog? When my dad was a child he and his family had a dog named Shep–was an appropriate name because he was a German Shepherd and while my dad’s family is German too so it’s appropriate that that way also–and one day, my dad tells the story–must’ve been about seven or eight years old, he was walking into the street and had failed to look both ways. And Shep seemed to realize that my dad was in danger, and so Shep jumped in front of my dad and stopped him from stepping into the road just before a car passed. My dad thinks back to that and he thinks Shep might have saved his life. That’s why I say if my dad had died at the age of seven, or eight, I would not be here today. So I owe my very existence to a dog named Shep.
Why do we keep dogs around? Sometimes they can be more pain than their worth, can’t they? Clean up after him. We have to discipline him. We have to train them right. Um, I think the dogs have a very good purpose even in our modern age, don’t they? My dog has made sure, ever since we brought him to our house, none of us have ever been attacked by a rabbit, or a raccoon, or a possum, our dog has protected us very well. If there’s ever a rabbit in the front yard, boy Jack lets us know. He warns us about impending danger like the mailman the UPS and the FedEx truck. If those bad guys ever come near the house boy does he sound the warning bell? He barks and barks and barks. What happens if a stranger walks up to the front door? It is the same thing. I can always tell when a stranger, someone delivering a pamphlet has been to the front door. Not only because of what they leave at the front but because the rug that we keep in front of the front doors all messed up from Jack running into the front entryway and barking his head off and that carpet, then that rug has to be slid back into its right place. Because a dog has an instinct to protect his territory and to protect his pack, and that is us isn’t it? When we have a dog in our house we are the pack. And the dog is very very good at his job. Not only have we not been attacked by rabbits, but we also have not had our house be broken into. But what happens if I walked to the front door? What happens if one of my family members walked to the front door? Jack doesn’t even bother to get up from his perch in front of the front window because he knows us. He doesn’t get upset when we come.
In the reading that we have from God’s word upon which this meditation is based our Lord Jesus was teaching about how he is not only the shepherd but he’s also the door for the sheep. Our reading comes from St. John’s Gospel chapter 10 and we read (John 10:1-10 ), and in verse John 10:11 is actually where Jesus says the words I am the good shepherd. In verses one through 10 he uses a different explanation of who he is, but Jesus is the good Shepherd and Jesus is also the door through which good shepherds enter in. He is the door through which each one of us enters into his kingdom and family and we need to listen to his voice. We need to learn to know his voice if we want to be safe from the bad guys. There are many bad guys. This evangelical heritage version of the Bible, this new translation that has been worked on by Lutheran pastors from the ELS and the wells and in some professors from our seminary, does kind of a neat thing and it is starting to grow on me. In translating Jesus words from the Greek where he begins statements by saying, Amen, Amen. The King James version had translated that verily verily I say unto you. The at the NIV said truly I say to you. Or there are two different versions of the NIV. One, in one of the versions it says I tell you the truth. In the evangelical heritage version and it leaves the Greek, Amen. Which is simply a transliteration of the Hebrew word, Amen. Leaves it as, Amen. In English, I say Amen. So Amen, Amen I say to you. The reason I like this translation is because Jesus used that term amen in a unique and new way. In our reading from Hebrews, you notice that the placement of that word amen was at the end. And that’s where we are accustomed to hearing that word. When we are done praying we say, Amen. If the pastor wants the congregation to say amen he will sometimes say and God’s people say, Amen. Usually, it works. And if, if you agree with somebody very often you will say Amen. If you want to sound really religious you’ll say Amen brother. Amen sister. Amen is a word that simply means this is true. It is a statement of fact. This is something that I agree with. So Jesus as a matter of emphasizing what he is telling us he says Amen, Amen. Truly I say to you I tell you the truth. Verily, Verily I say to you. We need to hear Jesus voice in the early days of the Christian church. The gospel of Jesus Christ was spread by word-of-mouth. What Jesus had taught his disciples, the disciples carried out to the country sides, to the villages, into the cities. They taught what they had heard from Jesus. When people listened to the disciples, the apostles, they were listening to Jesus himself. Because it was his words it was his truth that was being taught. Even if the voice was Peter or John or Thomas. The words were Jesus words. Jesus promised to his disciples that after he went into heaven he would send the Holy Spirit, the counselor. Who would, and I quote, “remind you of everything that I have taught to you.” The Holy Spirit inspired apostles like John, James, Peter. And evangelists like Mark and Luke. To write down and then to proclaim publicly what Jesus had said. What Jesus had taught. And how all of these things fit together in God’s great plan of salvation. The Holy Spirit the counselor gave them exactly the right words that they should speak. And because people were accustomed to listening to the words and the voice of Jesus. They recognize the voice of their Rabbi, their teacher, their Savior, their Lord. But there were other shepherds, who were not teaching with that voice. Let’s call them bad guys. Because that’s a term that I used when I was a kid. If we played cops and robbers, would always say who gets to be the cop. Who has the be the bad guy? I was was afraid of bad guys breaking into the house. Who were those bad guys? The bad guys that Jesus is talking about are robbers and thieves, but not people who will steal your money, or steal your car, or steal your other possessions, but these are robbers and thieves of your soul and your salvation. They come in by some other way not by means of Jesus Christ, but by means of their own charm, their own tact, their own authority.
There were people like Arius, one of the early teachers in the church, who taught that Jesus as the son of God was not fully divine. At least not as fully divine as God the father is. And by his teaching, he stole glory from Jesus. He stole glory from the Holy Spirit. If you took Arius’s teachings to their logical conclusion, one would have to come to the conclusion that Jesus was not fully the Savior that we need. And there were others, Paul names some of them. Most of them he just names as part of a group, they were the Judaizers. They were the people of the early Christians communities who said you have to follow the Old Testament law in addition to having faith in Jesus Christ. By telling Christians that they had to follow the law instead of saying follow Jesus alone by faith in him because he has completed everything for your salvation. They took away the certainty that God wanted his people to have. The Judaizers and Arius, false teachers like Hymenaeus, they are bad guys. They allowed false voices to come into the sheep pen and many sheep follow their false voices even today. Many people follow the error of Arius in denying that Jesus is fully God. As they follow teachings like the Mormon church or the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach. That Jesus is not fully God. There are so many churches that corrupt the gospel by teaching that not only must we have faith in Jesus, but we also have to add in some portion our own good works in order to get into heaven. That we must make a choice. A choice that is impossible for sinful humans to make, or we must invite him into our hearts which is impossible for people to do until Jesus is already there. Some people are so bold as to say that when the Bible says were saved by faith alone, that doesn’t really mean what it says. You do always and also have to do good works. These things take away the Christians confidence and the apostle Paul even said that they can shipwreck your salvation. They can rob you of your very eternal life. That’s how bad the bad guys are. They do not enter into the sheep pen by means of the door Jesus Christ, they come in by some other way, and they come only to rob, to steal, to destroy.
But it’s worse than just having to look out for false teachers that are out there, false doctrines that are taught by other people. We have a false teacher inside of our hearts. Our very own hearts. The prophet Jeremiah says the human heart is deceptive above all things, who can understand it. My heart teaches me false doctrine every time it tells me all my sins are not so bad. Everybody messes up. I’ve made my share of mistakes, and bad decisions, but God doesn’t care. When I soften God’s law, my heart leads me astray. My heart leads me astray in other ways too. Sometimes I sin and I know that I have sinned badly, and I doubt that God could actually forgive me for what I’ve done. Sometimes my conscience is so pained that I think how can God forgive me for that deliberate sin that I just did? That thing that I continue to do over and over again that saying that I know I not I am not fully repenting out because I know that there’s a part of my brain that even as I say I am sorry is planning to do the same thing again. How can God ever forgive me? See what my sinful heart wants to do is to overemphasize my own importance in my own power. If I ever asked myself, why and how could God ever forgive me? I’m making myself out to be quite a big fellow. I’m making myself out to be more powerful than God’s power to forgive. I’m making myself to be bigger than the whole world because I know in the Bible Jesus says that he is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. I know that Jesus said that God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son. I know that St. Paul said that God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, not counting people’s sins against them. And so if my false teacher in my own heart tries to lead me astray, there’s only one place that I can go for refuge, that is truly safe for refuge. That is truly sufficient and that is to run back to my Savior and listen to his voice.
I think every good Shepherd Sunday I have probably mentioned to the congregation that I have an uncle who raises sheep, my uncle Dick has a herd of Hampshire sheep, that he breeds and that he sells for wool or the that he sheers to sell the wool and then he also sells them for meat and sells them to other breeders. Uncle Dick can tell you a lot about sheep, and if we know the more we know about sheep, the more we understand what Jesus often uses them as an illustration for us his people. It’s not really an insult well, it is kind of an insult because sheep aren’t very smart, and Jesus wants us to realize where not as smart as we often think we are either. How often do you find yourself just following the leader? No matter where the leader is going, whether the leader is doing something smart or foolish? How often you find yourself just following along with the pack not even really aware of, where you’re going, where you’re headed, but just going because everybody else seems to be going along that direction? How often do you go into areas where you should know better? A place for your led into temptation, or maybe it’s not even a physical laundering, maybe it’s a wandering of the mind. A wandering of the attention of wandering of the desires going in a place that is not healthy for you. We all do that. Jesus knows that we will do that, and that’s why he continually reaches out with his voice. He continually reaches out in his words in the Bible, which are his voice. He continually reaches out to you through devotions and sermons, and applications, and even the memory of God’s word which is in your heart and your head so that you will know that you have a shepherd who loves you. A shepherd who himself is also the Lamb of sacrifice. The one who shed his blood on the cross to wash every single one of your sins away. A shepherd who loves you so much that sometimes he even will use the rod and the staff of discipline, to bring you back into the right area for yourself. To bring you back hearing his voice, and yes sometimes that will require you to feel some pain. For you to experience some consequences of your priceless behavior. Jesus loves you enough to reach out to you and to bring you back because he is faithful to the covenant promise that he made to you at your baptism. He is faithful to that benediction that is spoken by the pastor at the end of the worship service.
When God has placed his name on you, yes he has done that in a serious manner. If you have his name on you, he is not going to let you go not without a fight. He loves you he wants you to be with him forever. He is your good Shepherd. He gave up his life for you. Yes, he took it back up again too.
Our risen Savior is living for you as well. He lives for you now.
Fourth Sunday of Easter – Good Shepherd Sunday
- Those who enter by any other way are Bad Guys
- We Enter Salvation through Him
SERMON TEXT: John 10:1-10
See Gospel Lesson Below
FIRST LESSON: 1 Samuel 17:34-37
David said to Saul, “Your servant has been taking care of his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and took a lamb from the flock, I went after it and struck it and rescued the lamb out of its mouth. When it rose up against me, I grabbed it by its mane, struck it, and killed it. Your servant struck both the lion and the bear. This uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of the since he has defied the ranks of the living God. “David added, “The Lord, who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” Saul said to David, “Go then! The Lord be with you.”
SECOND LESSON: Hebrews 13:20-21
Now may the God of peace—who brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, in connection with his blood, which established the eternal testament—may he equip you with every good thing to do his will, as he works in us what is pleasing in his sight through Jesus Christ. To him be glory forever and ever. Amen.
VERSE OF THE DAY: John 10:14
Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.
GOSPEL: John 10:1-10
“Amen, Amen, I tell you Anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the door, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens the door for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own sheep, he walks ahead of them. The sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will never follow a stranger, but will run away from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers. “Jesus used this illustration in speaking to the people, but they did not understand what he was telling them.word So Jesus said again, “Amen, Amen, I tell you am the door for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. Whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture. “A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.