O give thanks unto the Lord for He is good, His mercy endures forever (1 Chr 16:34). Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church - Winnipeg, MB
Door in the Darkness
Door in the Darkness
Based on John 10:1-10
Preached on May 11, 2014
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Fellow baptized saints, are you afraid of the dark? Well I was. When I was a young boy my mom always left a light on for me in the hall. It gave me comfort - something to focus on when the shadows seemed to close in around me. But one time, and I'll never forget it, we went camping. Say goodbye to the hall light. It was pitch black. Not even a hint of light anywhere I looked. And say goodbye to the comfy bed and the walls too. There we were out in the wilderness where the wolves walked around for all I knew, and it was completely dark. Unable to see, my little ears strained to capture clues as to what was around me. My mind played games with the faintest of sounds and my heart was not at ease. But then I heard it, from the door of the tent, "It's ok Cam. I'm here." It was the voice of my mother. "Jesus is with us. He'll be awake when we fall asleep." At her words, I slept like a baby.
Mothers know, don't they? Thank God for mothers. He knew we would need 'em. And they are His precious gift. God uses our mothers to care for us, protect us and teach us. And the chief thing they teach us isn't even of this world. Jesus is with us. He'll be awake when we fall asleep. God uses our mothers to teach us the faith. You may have first heard the name Jesus from your mother.
Because mothers know, don't they? They know how to comfort, and hopefully they know where they're power to comfort ends and the Lord's begins. Where the words their children need to hear are a promise of God or a simple prayer.
For all you mothers out there, we thank God for you, and remind you that God has made you a mother. He hears your prayers, for He put you there to pray them. And those promises of His that you speak about Jesus - He backs them, because He put you there to speak them. Thank God for mothers. They know how to comfort us even in the dark.
Well, by now you've probably started to wonder how sheep and thieves and door and shepherd have anything to do with dark and fear and mothers and camping. And the answer is - everything. Jesus paints an incredible picture with his figure of speech this morning. A picture so compelling you'll never forget it. This entire season of Easter we have been watching Jesus teach His disciples that they must walk by faith, not by sight. And today He shows us why.
The sheep are in the sheepfold. They're in their pen. And there's only one time of the day that sheep are put in the sheepfold. At night. The reason we must walk by faith, and not by sight is that we can't see a thing. Jesus has painted a picture alright - and he paints it black. This is the way Christ depicts this world. The way He describes the truth of this life. Total darkness - We can't see the big picture. We can't see the shepherd. We can't even see what is right in front of our face. We are blind - from the moment we are conceived to the moment we die. And we need out. For as we sit here in the darkness, our little ears strain to capture clues as to what is around us. Our fretful minds play games with even the faintest of sounds and our hearts are not at ease. We need out of this deathfold. We need out of this darkness, this night, this valley of shadowness. We need a voice at the door. One who can see. Who calls us by name and leads us out.
So Jesus comes. Though all is dark, He comes right through the door, because He is the shepherd of the sheep. He comes right into the midst of the darkness saying, I am with you. I am awake even when you fall asleep. I can see, even though you are blind. I am alive, even though I was dead. And you hear my voice. You hear me call your name. I'm here to lead you out. To take you out of the darkness of this world into the life to come. To green pastures and quiet waters. To a place where no thief or robber may come. Where no night will ever fall. I'm here to lead you out.
But there are other voices trying to trick you. Thieves. Robbers. Strangers. Flee from them. Run from them and their messages of death - those who do not preach Christ crucified. Those who preach in His Church but speak nothing of what He has done. Who heap up rules for living. Preach only about what you should do now, and nothing of what Christ does. Who are quick to preach the Law, but slow to preach the Gospel. If you ever find yourself in a church that isn't showering you in the promises of Christ, that doesn't proclaim to you the forgiveness of sins over and over and over again - run for your life - Jesus says. For these strangers have not come in the door, they don't come through Me, but have climbed in another way.
You know you have the voice of the shepherd when Jesus is the One doing the action. The shepherd is the One who brings. The One who calls. The One who leads. He is the One who goes first - who lays down His life for the sheep only to take it up again. Who ascends into heaven - Who calls Himself the door.
Jesus has made His life the doorway out of darkness. He has come that you might have life and have it to the full, that is, leave this darkness to be with God in His eternal kingdom, where you may see Him face to face. Jesus is the only way out, so He comes to take you through Himself. He comes to recreate humanity in His death and resurrection. To make Himself the ark from which the restored creation will emerge from on the other side. This is why you are baptized. For in baptism you are put into Christ. You go through the door. Your shepherd takes you through the door by washing you with water and His Name. He leads you in paths of righteousness for His Name's sake.
No, you can't see. But you can hear the voice of your shepherd. You trust the voice of your shepherd, and you know His pastures await you.
Perhaps I should ask you again, are you afraid of the dark? Well even if you are, your Shepherd knows how to comfort you. He knows how to speak to His sheep, how to walk them through the valley of the shadow of death. And He is with you. With His rod and His staff to comfort you. He prepares a table before you in the presence of your enemies - right in the midst of darkness and death. Your cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow you all the days of your life, and you shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. Amen.
Rev. Cameron Schnarr