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Leave The Old Testament And Enter The New

May 2, 2020 Pastor: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Verse: John 10:7–10:11

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Christ Lutheran Church
Cleveland, Ohio
May 3, 2020
by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

Easter 4
Leave The Old Testament And Enter The New

And so Jesus said again to them: "Truly, truly I say to you I am the door for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and criminals but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door! If anyone enters by me he will be saved and he will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and butcher and destroy. I have come so that they might have life; abundant life! I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” (John 10:7-11)

When it comes to the Good Shepherd and the 23rd Psalm Christians sometimes get sentimental about their religion. And while sentiment is not the best lens for understanding the gospel, there is plenty to be emotional about with today’s lessons.

Because this Psalm and this Sacrament have seen our ancestors through every emergency imaginable; and unimaginable. It has pardoned their every sin, given them great peace, made it possible for them to live with confidence, and to go to their graves with hope.

Let us also, then, live and move and have our being in the 23rd Psalm which we do best when we remember that Jesus is the Lord of the Psalm and that the Table he set then, is the same Table that he has set before us today.

But there is another side to this 4th Sunday of Easter. In today’s gospel Jesus was calling those who had been weaned in the Old Testament church to leave it. To leave it and its hired hands who cared nothing for the sheep.

He calls out to them to hear the voice of the gospel; and to follow him out of the Temple courtyards; to the new temple. To “the wondrous cross on which the Prince of Glory died."

Early on in St. John the Lord establishes his own flesh to be the new temple. The place where God is found, where God is worshiped, where sins are forgiven where every cry is heard, and every prayer answered.

He says, “Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again.” And then St. John, the Beloved disciple, and writer of this gospel adds this narration, “But he was speaking about the temple of his body.” (John 2:18-22)

And so, you see, there is an urgency in St. John chapter ten! The end is near. Jesus is coming ever closer to the cross and it is time to fish or cut bait. To hear the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow him out of the Temple, to the saving cross; or to suffer at the hands of what the Lord calls: thieves, wolves and criminals.

Thieves are those predators who sneak in so that they might take their prey by surprise. They love to do that. It gives them a sense of power and makes all their juices flow. But in this case you are the prey.

Sin, death and Satan want to steal your life, your soul, your peace and your eternal confidence in Jesus’ promises. They want to feast on your flesh, and gorge themselves on your blood. They want to destroy the redeemed from the face of the earth, and erase us all from the heart of God.

But that can never happen, Beloved!

That can never happen because the Good Shepherd stands in their way with his “rod and staff”. With his cross that purifies us, and grants us everlasting life.

As his voice called out to them then, it calls to you today. “Truly, Truly I say to you!” With that reverberating repetition you are hearing the voice of God! But the people to whom Jesus spoke that day still did not comprehend.

That is how dead sin makes us. If you hold a dose of Narcan in front of person dead of a drug overdose they are dead, and so that they cannot see it, comprehend it, ask for it, or reach out to take it if offered. That is what sin does to us – until Jesus administers the baptism of his death and resurrection to us, and makes us alive again!

And so the Lord doubles down. He says again, calling out with "the voice of many waters," “Truly, truly I say to you I am the door! ! If anyone enters by me he will be saved and he will go in and out and find pasture.”

And again, “I am the Good Shepherd, the Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

And what does Jesus do for all those who hear his Voice? He leads them out of death into life. From a temple of stone to the altar of his flesh. For there is life, abundant life.

There is no sentiment now, but only urgency, so that sheep who have been led astray by false shepherds might immediately return the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls.

What does that look like?

In today’s first reading we find the infant church, dressed in the swaddling clothes of Christ’s Word and Sacrament.

Who was this church? What did she do? What did she believe? How did she conduct herself? St. Luke teaches us in the today’s first lesson. Listen carefully:

They devoted themselves to the doctrine of the apostles and to the communion of the breaking of bread and the prayers. And all the believers were of one mind and held to the one faith. Moreover they would sell their possessions and belongings and would distribute them to all as any had need. And each day they … met in their houses for the breaking of the bread, which they partook of with glad and sincere hearts, praising God …” (Acts 2:42 ff)

It is the same thing we do today, Beloved.

We assemble for “the doctrine of the apostles” which we call the “Service of the Word: followed by “the communion of the breaking of the bread,” which we call “The Service of the Sacrament.”

But we are not just called into the church to receive O Christians! but also to give and to do. To this day we distribute portions of our labors to the church to secure bread and wine for the Sacrament. To support the clergy. To support the church. And to give to those in need.

But that is not all. Picking up on today’s epistle we are also called to suffer because the old saying is true: that no good deed goes unpunished.

Many times we must suffer for our faith though we have harmed no one, but prayed for and blessed everyone instead – even our enemies.

As often as that happens – as happened to many Christians around the country in the last 2 months; those who were persecuted for worshiping Christ …

… as often as that happens St. Peter assures us that it is a virtuous thing, and he counsels us moreover to do exactly what our Lord did when he also suffered unjustly; namely to entrust ourselves to the One who judges justly.

Then we will not only be believers in Christ but we will also become imitators of Christ. Then we will begin to comprehend in a small way the immeasurable price that our Lord paid as he hung on Tree of the Cross from nine o’clock in the morning until three o’clock in the afternoon – paying the price of our sins, so that we might die to sin, and come alive to righteousness.

By his wounds you are healed! By his wounds you are healed!

And so let us now return now to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls! Take eat! Take drink! Amen