Monday, May 12, 2014

Sermon for Easter 4: "Christ the Door Sunday"

+ 4th Sunday of Easter 2014, May 11th +
Redeemer Lutheran, HB
Series A: Acts 2:42-47; 1 Peter 2:17-25; John 10:1-10

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Today is often called Good Shepherd Sunday but what do we hear from John’s apostolic pen?

I AM the door.

How ordinary. I AM the Door? C’mon, really?! What about I AM the good shepherd – now there’s some rich biblical imagery. Or I AM the way, the truth, and the life – there’s something we all need in this post-modern age. Or how about I AM the vine or I AM the resurrection and the life – that’s understandable. Even Jesus saying I AM the morning star or I AM the alpha and the omega – makes more sense.

But I AM the door? What are we supposed to do with that? There are plenty of Christ the Vine, Light of Christ, or Good Shepherd Lutheran churches. Ever seen a Christ the Door Lutheran Church? That’s what I thought. And I’m guessing that for most of us doors probably don’t light your fire. Then again, people are strange.

 I AM the door. What does that mean?

Aren’t doors, as Jim Morrison reminds us, a way for us to break on through to the other side? Aren’t doors just a way to get from point A to point B? There’s nothing significant about a door…or is there.

Although this 4th Sunday of Easter is most commonly known as Good Shepherd Sunday, today could just as well be Christ the Door Sunday. Jesus is behind both titles: Door and Shepherd. Jesus is both Door and Shepherd. And John’s Gospel records the why and how.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is our Door to eternal life.

 Now of course, doors come in all shapes and sizes: round doors that lead to holes in the ground, automatic sliding doors that make you feel like a Jedi knight, doors that open up perhaps from a police box or a wardrobe – into a room or a whole new world that’s bigger on the inside. Doors are an important, a vital part of our daily life. So it is for our life in Christ.

I AM the door.

Doors vary in form and function, but in the Christian church there is only one door and it only comes in one shape: Jesus crucified. This doorway of the cross is an eternal portal. And it’s both narrow and wide.

It is a narrow door through which the last come first; a door through which it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for us who are rich in trespasses to enter in. It is a narrow door and we must be stripped of our self-righteousness, pride, and sin in order to fit through it. We must lose our life in order to find it in Christ.

And yet this door of Christ Crucified is wide. It is wide enough for all sinners to enter and find rest in Christ’s sheepfold. For as bad and as great as our sin is, it’s not greater than Jesus’ cross. There’s no sin and no sinner for whom Jesus did not die. Jesus’ death and resurrection is greater than your sin, my sin, and the sin of the world. Jesus cross is a door large enough to swallow up your death, guilt, and sin. Jesus took it all, nailed it to his body on the tree. And as Jesus’s tomb opened on Easter morning the doorway of death was closed forever.

That’s Jesus’ promise given to each of you in Baptism. Your sin is forgiven. You’re not left outside knocking on heaven’s door. Jesus’ cross is your doorway. The doorway of paradise is no longer guarded by angels and flaming swords. Now the road to the Promised Land runs through the font. The door to the green pastures of Christ’s new creation is opened to you in Holy Baptism. Today, and always, in the water of Baptism you are with Jesus in paradise. For on the cross he opened the vault of his wounded side to pour out his redeeming blood and water upon you. Jesus throws us into the belly of the font, drowns our sin, and then spits us out again in resurrected life. And so Holy Baptism is your door; just as it is for Jonah today. Jonah’s door, your door, my door.

The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. Shepherd. Door. Savior. Jesus does it all for you. Jesus came that you may have life, and have it abundantly.

I AM the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.

Jesus is the entrance to God’ kingdom and the destination all in one. Thy kingdom come. And he does, in your human flesh. In his word you hear today. In his pouring out forgiveness and the Spirit in water and word. In his body and blood which we eat and drink. Jesus the Good Shepherd is also your door, and the door is also your shepherd.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is your Door to eternal life.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.

Jesus contrasts himself with the thief and robber. The Shepherd enters by way of the door, but thieves and robbers climb in some other way. And that “other way” is never the way of Jesus’ death and resurrection. You can always tell a thief or a robber from the shepherd by the message he brings. Listen closely. Anyone who does not preach Jesus Christ to be your Shepherd, who bore you sins on the cross, who laid down His life for your salvation, in whom you are justified before God freely for Jesus’ sake, is not speaking on behalf of the Good Shepherd.

It doesn’t matter if he’s wearing a clerical collar, or flowing robes, a business suit, or a Hawaiian shirt. It doesn’t matter whether he uses PowerPoint or powerful points to make his point. If what he says is not connected to the narrow door of Jesus’ death and resurrection, he is a thief and a robber and a wolf in sheep’s clothing. It doesn’t matter if his church is crowded with people, your bank account swells to new levels, or whatever he says feels good. If he doesn’t preach Christ and Him crucified, he’s a thief and not a shepherd.

Don’t look at the messenger; listen to the message. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. He may sound nice enough, maybe even nicer than the shepherd, but don’t trust him for a second. The devil masquerades as an angel of light.

Jesus is your only door. There is no other. But that doesn’t seem to stop us from looking for another door or another voice to listen to instead. The Lord’s my shepherd, I shall not want...anything, that is, except what I desire and deserve. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, but I spy grass that is greener on the other side of the fence. He leads me beside the still waters, but I know of far more exciting places where I’d love to slake my thirst. He makes me to walk in the paths of righteousness when all I want is to run in the open fields of the world—eating where I want, do what I want with whom I want and whenever I want to do it. He leads me for His name’s sake, but I want to make a name for myself.

All we like sheep have gone astray. Repent of your sinful, sheepish ways. Return to the Shepherd and bishop of your souls. Listen to his voice.

And be not afraid. For Good Shepherd Jesus knows His sheep and our wandering ways. One of the things a shepherd does for His flock is lie in the opening of the pen at night. At night, the sheep are herded into their pen. That’s what Jesus means when He says, “I am the door of the sheep.” He literally lays down His life for the sheep. He lies in the door of death, and through His death, His sheep can go in and out and find pasture. Through the narrow door of Jesus’ death there is life for you, abundant, eternal life. He’s done it for you - died, rose, reigns. And in the Good Shepherd’s flock you are safe forever.

 I AM the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.

 Yes, he occasionally uses his rod for our discipline. But the rod is also there to fend off the devilish wolf. And your Shepherd fought to the death for you. Jesus dove into the jaws of the roaring lion for you. Jesus emerged victorious, bringing you along with him. He uses the crook of his staff to rescue you, pull you out of harm and danger, and lift you up on his shoulders and carry you home.

The Lord is your Good Shepherd. And all He wants is you. I who so often turn my back on the fold and its shepherd? Yes, you. I who have cursed His staff, ignored His call, gone my own way? Yes, you. I who have been more like a wolf than a sheep, angrily tearing away at those around me? Yes, the Good Shepherd wants only you.

Jesus came that you may have life, and have it abundantly. You are the people of his pasture and the sheep of his hand.

For Jesus, the Good Shepherd, is your Door to eternal life.

A blessed Good Shepherd and Christ the Door Sunday to each of you... 

In the Name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.



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