Summary: So you what to be a sheep, baa, baa, baa, ba?
Sermon for John 10:1-10
Fourth Sunday in Easter
April 13h 2008
I love being a Lutheran. Martin Luther is one of my heroes. OK, I’ll admit he was a rather strange bird, sort of like most Lutherans I know. But one of the things I admire is his willingness to make a stand. Luther stood up to the most powerful organization in the world and said, “Unless I am convinced by Scripture or Reason I cannot recant. Here I stand!” Whoa! That took some guts and other things.
However, more than his courage I truly love the way Luther thinks and teaches us about God and our relationship to this God. His theology of the cross is about the only thing that makes sense in the wacky world. Even though this theology may at first glance seem as odd as we Lutherans. Through mostly the writing of the Apostle Paul, Luther came to the conclusion that we basically are in opposition to God. We think opposite. We act opposite.
For example, there is Life through the Cross. There is power in weakness. We receive by giving away. Like Jesus taught—we are first when we are last. Odd uh? Yet Luther points out there is so much hidden from us now, but will someday be made clear in the future. He uses the story of Moses, where Moses asked to see God, and God tells Moses to cover his eyes and then God passes through the rock, where Moses get a brief glimpse of the backside of God. The backside of God—or as Luther calls it the hidden God—hidden in the opposites of what we think and believe.
Once again odd, uh? Some even go as far to claim it is a little harsh, too much law, not enough gospel—good news. However, Luther is quick to point out—No way! Unless we understand the situation. Unless we know how serious the condition—we will never truly experience the solution—Jesus Christ!
So this morning, I’m going to try and say what a thing really is and examine two of the most well known passages of Scripture where we will hopefully learn that we do actually think and behave in opposites, and hopefully be fortunate enough to get more than a glimpse at the backside of God.
Some 3000 years ago a young shepherd boy named David wrote these words that are somewhat familiar to maybe close to 3 billion souls.
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures and leads me beside still waters.
He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his name’s sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me; you have anointed my head with oil, and my cup is running over.
Surely your goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
The second passage was written some 2000 years ago where Jesus says as clearly as possible to approximately 7 billion souls: “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. I am the gate! Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Whoa! Never in want. Green pastures. Still waters. A revived soul. Rest. Right paths. Fear no evil. Comfort. A cup that overflows. Goodness and Forgiveness. And on top of all that: “Dwell in the house of God forever!” Oh my goodness, I want some of that! That’s what I call Gospel. Ah! I want some of that.
There’s a church camp song I don’t really remember, but it sort of goes like this: “I just want a be a sheep, baa, baa, baa. So you want a be a sheep, baa, baa, baa, baa. And here lies the problem. Here is the opposite. We don’t want to be a sheep…baa, baa, baa, ba. For the little I know about sheep, other than I love lamb chops and wool suits, I don’t think it’s an animal I really care to be associated with.
They’re not the most noble of beasts or even the smartest of creatures. Always wandering off, getting lost and in trouble. Sound familiar? I heard about an entire flock of sheep that followed each other right off the edge of a cliff. Yet don’t we sometimes follow the latest craze even if it means going over the edge.
These silly animals will eat themselves sick if you let them graze in one place too long, and they will starve and not go look for food if you don’t lead them to the proper pasture. Again, any semblance of anyone you know? From what I read, an entire flock can be spooked and stampeded by a harmless jack rabbit. Yet aren’t some of our fears more like a jackrabbit than real danger.