sheep_13733acEaster 4, 2017 Good Shepherd Sunday – Confirmation Sunday
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May 7, 2017
Psalm 23, Acts 2:42-47,

Sermons online:
Text:                            pastorjud.org
Audio:                         pastorjud.podbean.com
itunes:                         bit.ly/pastorjud
Full Service Audio:    bit.ly/ImmanuelWorship

Sometimes when people want to attack Christians sometimes they will ask the “gotcha” question, “So, is Ghandi in Hell?”  Mahatma Ghandi, the Indian, Hindu civil rights leader, was a good guy.  Ghandi was a peaceful man.  Ghandi did a lot of good stuff.  Is Ghandi destined for Hell?

We so much want Ghandi to be with the Lord awaiting the joys of paradise because Ghandi was a great guy.  We really want it to be true that being a good guy is good enough.  But is it enough to be a good guy?

We live with a very strange way of thinking about being good enough.  We desperately want to believe that being good enough is enough; that we are saved by what we do; that we must have something to do with our own salvation.  And yet, at the same time, we know that we are not good enough.  We know in our hearts that we are indeed natural born sinners.

I wonder if it is sort of like how many Americans look at being poor.  In America, anyone can achieve great wealth given enough hard work and good fortune, therefore poor folks in America often don’t really see themselves as poor but rather as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.

When we find ourselves continuing to struggle with sin perhaps we truly believe that if we just try hard enough we can free ourselves from bondage to sin.  Indeed if we try harder we can become good enough.  Just try harder and you can free yourself from sin.  How’s that working for you?

So, what is the way to heaven?  It really isn’t that difficult.  Jesus explains it clearly in today’s Gospel lesson.

John 10:7 (ESV) 7 … “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.[1]  Jesus is the door.  Jesus is not a door.  Jesus is the door.  And not the door so much as the door way.  Jesus is not shut and locked to keep people out, Jesus is the opening to let people in and all are invited to enter through Jesus, the door.

It’s not about being a good guy.  It is not about being good enough.  It is about Jesus being good enough.

John 10:9 (ESV) 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.[2]

Jesus is the door.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who leads His sheep to still waters and green pastures.  Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through Him.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for the sheep.

It’s not about being a good guy.  It is not about being good enough.  It is about Jesus being good enough.  It is about Jesus being the sacrificial Lamb of God, offered up on the altar of the cross.

As a baptized child of God you are at the same time a saint made holy and perfect by the blood of Jesus, and a sinner who is locked in a lifelong struggle with the devil, the world and your own sinful desires.  The struggle against sin far too often does not go very well.  The devil is well practiced in tempting you to give in to your desires.  And as you struggle against sin in life you soon realize you are not good enough no matter how hard you try to pretend.  You are locked in a desperate struggle with sin and it appears that sin is winning.  What a great relief it is to know that it is not about you, it is about Jesus for you.  It is about Jesus for everyone.  Repent and follow Jesus.  Jesus is the door and the door is open for all people.

What great comfort there is in realizing that Jesus is the door.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  It truly is not about you.  It is about Jesus for you.  You cannot trust your own actions or motivations, but you can rest assured in Jesus’ promise.  What a great comfort to know that you are a sheep in the flock of the Good Shepherd.

The 23rd Psalm brings such great comfort and we often use it at times when we know that we are not in charge.  We speak this comforting Psalm to people who are sick or near death.  Sick and dying people no longer live under the illusion of being in charge of their own lives.  When life is crumbling down around your ears it becomes clear that  of all the things in life, the best thing to be is to be a sheep in the flock of the Good Shepherd.  Even as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death the Good Shepherd is there for you.

The 23rd Psalm shows you it is all about God and what God has done for you.   He is my shepherd.  He makes me lie down.  He leads me.  He restores.  He leads.  You (Lord) are with me.  Your rod and staff comfort.  You prepare.  You anoint.  The major focus of the Psalm is all of what God does for you.  Interestingly the center word of this Psalm in Hebrew is you, referring to God; Thou in the King James.  You are with me.  Thou art with me.  Thou (God) is the center of Psalm 23; twenty-six words before and 26 words after it in the Hebrew.  It is humbling and a great comfort to know that God is in charge and not you.

What an eternal blessing to know that Jesus is the door.  Jesus is the way.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  But this also means that there is only one way.  We want to believe that there are many ways to the Father, but there is only one way and that is through the death and resurrection of Jesus.  That is why we preach this Good News.  This is why we reach out to others.  This is why we have our school.  This is why we support missionaries.

Today is confirmation Sunday for our sister in Christ, Molly Risner.  Molly today will herself confess the promises that were made for her at her baptism July 13, 2003.  Molly will confess that Jesus is the Savior.  Molly chose for her confirmation verse, Psalm 27:1 (ESV) 1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?[3]

What an appropriate verse for Good Shepherd Sunday and confirmation Sunday.  It’s a good one for all of us to memorize.  1 The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

Life is hard in this walk through the valley of the shadow of death.  We are sorely tempted to give up on Jesus being Lord and making something else the most important thing in our lives.  But what else could possibly replace the Lord in Psalm 27 or Psalm 23.

1 Money is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear?

Pride is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?[4]

Lust is my shepherd, I shall not want.

Hatred is my light and my salvation?

My good works are the stronghold of my life.

No.  The Lord is my light and my salvation; who shall I fear?

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.

The Lord Jesus is the shepherd of the sheep.

Jesus is the door for the sheep.

God is in charge and salvation comes through Christ Jesus.  What an everlasting security it is to know that God is in charge.

The way to the Father is through the door that is Jesus.  That is true for you and it is true for all people.  Jesus is the way.  This is the Good News that we confess.  This is the Good News that we bring to this community and to a world that is still looking for the way.  Jesus is the way.  Jesus is the door.  Jesus is the Good Shepherd.  Amen.

 

[1]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[2]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[3]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

[4]  The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001

 

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