SERMON TEXT BELOW
Immanuel Lutheran Church, Hamilton, Ohio
Pastor Kevin Jud
May 3, 2020
Acts 2:42-47, Psalm 23, 1 Peter 2:19-25, John 10:1-10
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It is kind of fascinating to think about doorways to other worlds; portals to other lands, times, dimensions. We see this often in movies and dramas. Stranger Things is all about the upside down dimension with various entry points. Alice goes to Wonderland when she falls down a hole. In Back to the Future the portal is a DeLorean with a flux capacitor. In the Wizard of Oz it is a Kansas farm house and a tornado. Dr. Who explores the universe in a blue police box called the TARDIS. In the Chronicles of Narnia it is a wardrobe in the bedroom. In Avengers: Endgame the heroes use a time machine to go back in time to undo destruction of half of the earth’s population.
There are a lot of fictional portals to other times and places. Today, in our Gospel reading we learn about the true portal to the eternal kingdom; the one and only door to paradise.
You live in a broken world. This is a fallen world with many troubles. There is disease. There is violence. There is murder. There is abuse. There is rampant evil. There is death. There is great trouble and turmoil. The Psalmist describes this world as the valley of the shadow of death. Currently all humanity is affected by a virus which is spreading disease and death across the globe. Truly you live in a fallen world.
There is another world; a better world, a Kingdom beyond anything you know in this broken world. There is the Kingdom of Heaven; the Kingdom of God. This is the Kingdom that Jesus teaches about in His parables, and it is not a Kingdom of this world, as Jesus tells Pontius Pilate. This is a Kingdom that has three phases. Phase one is the Kingdom of Heaven while you are still living life in this fallen world. It is a life lived without fear because you know Jesus is your Good Shepherd. In this Kingdom you live in the grace a mercy of God and strive to love God and love one another. Kingdom of Heaven Phase two is the time between your death and the resurrection of the dead. This phase we don’t know much about. Your body is buried in the ground and your spirit goes to be with the Lord to rest in peace until the day of resurrection. Kingdom of Heaven Phase three begins with the resurrection of the dead and it is the full glory of eternal life in the Heavenly City of New Jerusalem. It is the Wedding Feast of the Lamb in His Kingdom. It is the Pearl Gates and Golden streets and Jesus as the light. How do we get to this Kingdom?
Everyone is born into this fallen world of trouble and is, by nature, sinful and unclean. Everyone is, by nature, blind, dead and an enemy of God. You are born into the domain of darkness. How do you get from the domain of darkness to Jesus’ Kingdom? How do you get to the Kingdom of Heaven? What is the way to the Kingdom of God? Where is the portal to this place of grace and mercy and peace? Where is the door to paradise? Jesus tells us today in His story about sheep.
John 10:1-5 (ESV) 1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
Jesus here is continuing to rebuke the Pharisees after they expelled the man born blind and then healed from the synagogue. Jesus is telling the Pharisees that they are thieves and robbers and that there is one shepherd and there is one door. In this world there are many, like the Pharisees, who don’t use the door. These are thieves and robbers who want to hurt the sheep. There is one shepherd and there is one door.
John 10:7-10 (ESV) 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
Jesus is the door. The door is Jesus. He is the only door. Jesus is the portal to the Kingdom of Heaven. If anyone enters by Jesus he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. Where do we hear this language of going in and out? It is in the blessing after baptism. The Lord preserve your coming in and your going out from this time forth and even forevermore. Jesus is the door and Jesus instituted baptism as a portal to the green pastures of the Kingdom of Heaven. This baptismal font is the portal by which many of you entered the Kingdom of Heaven. When you see this font, recognize it as the place where so many have been transferred into the light of the Lord. It is a Holy portal to paradise. Baptism is God marking you as being in Christ. Jesus is the door.
The great Good News is that the door is open for everyone. There is no secret knock. There is no entrance requirement. There is no heroic act you need to perform in order to access the door. The door is open for anyone and everyone. This is great Good News that the door is open for everyone and yet some people find this to be offensive to their sensibilities. Your intelligence, your reason and your common sense want you to believe that you have to do something. So many people cannot believe that they don’t have to do anything. They so much want to believe that they have to have a part in their salvation. But it is not about you, it is about Jesus for you.
The great Good News is that Jesus is the door and the door is open for everyone. The hard teaching is that Jesus is the only door. Jesus is the door. There is no other door. There is no other way into the Kingdom of Heaven. There is no other way to the Kingdom of God. Jesus is the way. Many find this exclusivity offensive. People hate that Jesus is the only way. Out of our compassion we want any way to be a good way, but that is not God’s compassion. God’s ways are not our ways. God has compassion by opening the way to all people, but there is only one way.
The thieves and the robbers want to deceive you by pretending there are other doors. They talk about other ways to the Kingdom. It is as if they have painted beautiful doorways on a concrete wall. This painted concrete looks like a doorway and people talk about it as if it is a doorway; they believe it is a doorway, but it is just a pretty concrete wall and when the time comes to go through the door it will be impossible. There are very sincere people who believe that all these pretend doors are real portals, but it is just fiction. Throughout human history folks have made up religions to control people, exploit people, and pacify people. There are so many false religions all promising that they are the way but those that promote these religions are thieves and robbers. Jesus is the way. How do we know that Jesus is the way; because, Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! Christianity is completely false if Christ is not raised from the dead, but Christ is risen! He is risen indeed! Alleluia! There is only one door and that door is Jesus.
It is like an eternally important game of Let’s Make a Deal. It looks like there are many doors to choose from but only one is really a door. Jesus is the only door. There is no mystery here. You know which door is real. Tell others. Spread the word. Jesus is the door. Jesus is the way. Don’t let the thieves and robbers lead people to false doors which will leave them outside the Kingdom of Heaven. We so want to believe that any way is a good way, but there are not many ways; there is only one way. You know the way. Jesus is the way. Jesus is the door. Amen.
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001
 The Holy Bible : English Standard Version. Wheaton : Standard Bible Society, 2001