Text: John 10:1-10
Voices are recognizable. Children know the voices of their parents. From their time in the womb they have heard their voices. Instinctively, children know and trust and find comfort in their parent’s voice. When they are awoken with terrors at night, when they are in fear, when they feel abandoned and alone, they cry out for them and expect to hear their voices and be comforted.
On the other hand, if the voice is different from the parent’s there is no comfort. Fear can increase, feelings of abandonment and loneliness increase, for they expect the voice of the one they know and trust. So it is for you dear flock. You know the Shepherd’s voice. As much as children grow weary and tired of the sound of their parents, so we grow tired and weary of the same voice of the Shepherd. Weary and tired of being told how we constantly are wondering. Always brought back to the same place. The pen. The place where the sheep are gathered together. Yet, as safe and secure as it is here in pen, there is the temptation and desire to leave. We are prone to leave. Only problem is we need help.
Other voices whisper from outside, promise of greater freedom, greener pastures, better shepherds who have innovative and new ways to keep the mundane life of the sheep entertaining. Then we ask them to climb over and bring us there. There are many who will climb over the wall, many robbers and thieves who will come through any way that is not the door. Only thing is, they come not to provide the security and life given by the Shepherd. They come only to kill and steal and destroy you. They will come with claims of a more relevant Gospel, a Gospel that offers prosperity and a better life now, a Gospel that will promise to answer all your questions of what your purpose in life is to be, a Gospel that something other than the forgiveness of sins and eternal life given freely in the death and resurrection of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
These things are attractive for many reasons. We look around and see things wrong in the church. It’s the same pen. Some sheep smell. Some aren’t as well groomed. Some bite and kick the other sheep. Some want to be shepherds, others want to be sheep without a shepherd. Some seem to wonder in and out as they please. While sheep must travel in pastures, they must travel together and graze the fields together before moving on. Moving on without the sheep provides no protection, and while pastures are new it also takes away from others later on. Though some sheep seem to leave flocks rather than travel together. It’s no wonder sheep want to leave. It is no wonder that sheep willingly are looking to be taken and for escape.
Dear flock of Christ, beware and flee from the thieves and robbers who would climb over the walls, digging through and promising some sort of self-motivational religion, promising that if you do all the right things God will give you whatever you want. These false shepherds are deceptive. Often times they are genuine and believe they are proclaiming the truth rather than leading people astray or into pastures that are mostly good but have deadly plants hidden and are thus to be avoided entirely. There are shepherds that only seek large numbers of sheep, shepherds that only want healthy sheep, shepherds that do not care for the entire well-being of the sheep. Knowingly or not, these false shepherds come as thieves and robbers who will kill and destroy.
You see, our Lord knows these things. He Himself is the door and the shepherd. He is the One who brings you into the fold and through Him is the only way in. T Our Lord has come for you, dear sheep, to be your shepherd. He himself is the door. He uses language that is clear in what he is saying, ego eimi, I am. He is first declaring who he is, he is Yahweh, I am. He is the one who was, who is, and who will be. The one who promised and delivered his people throughout history.
He is the door. Doors seem ordinary at times. We pass through so many that we don’t even think about their functionality and realize what it is that doors actually do. Just this morning to walk in this sanctuary you exited at least one, perhaps two or more doors from your own room in your home. Perhaps a gate door or garage door. Then a car door. In this building you entered through at least two sets of doors, and depending on where you came in from, perhaps more. Yet, doors have a huge function. Doors inherently change things. Depending on the room and the direction, you go from being either on the inside or on the outside. And Jesus is the door. He brings you through and takes you from the outside, as condemned sinner, and brings you inside as dear saint, into his sheepfold. It seems so simple, yet is so miraculous. Brought from the outside in. At one time you were worse than lost sheep of Israel, and you did not know the voice of the Shepherd. “For you were like straying sheep…. Now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. (1 Peter 2:25)
The question remains though, how can you distinguish between the voice of the Shepherd and that of the thieves and robbers? You know the voice of the Shepherd for he has told you and promised how he comes to you and brings you. His is the voice of Law and Gospel. His is the voice that proclaims not your emotions and feelings, not how you must change before being brought in, but proclaims His death and resurrection, His laying down His life for you, forgiving your sin. Bringing you in the door that changes your presence from the world to His Kingdom. He comes and brings you through himself, the door. He brings you in for some of you have heard his voice from the womb, some have only heard it for a short time. Yet, for all of you he has promised to bring you in through himself, the door, here in this place. As you confess your sins, you hear his Word proclaimed, His voice, your sins are forgiven. This Jesus, who is the door and shepherd, has laid down his life for you. You know the voice of the Shepherd for he gives himself to you.
As a child in fear of the dark, lost and alone and away from his parents, so you hear the voice of the Shepherd who brings you through the door and calls you by name, baptizing you in his name and redeeming you from this valley of sorrow and delivering to you the green pastures of eternal life. He leads you, brings you through the door. And the door is more than just something to go through. The door also keeps and preserves you. Satan has incredible reign and will seek to climb over to kill and destroy you. He would seek to lead you to other pastures, making them look good, alluring, and 99% of it is safe, just enough to destroy. Consider that rat poison is 1% poison, a can of Raid is only .2% of active chemical, and the same is true for most chemicals and items that are deadly. The Door keeps them out, the Door keeps you from ingesting them, the door keeps you in. The Door protects and gives you life here.
You know the voice of the Shepherd as he comes and keeps with his Word and promises. Delivers to you the fruits of the cross in the breaking of bread, giving himself to you for the forgiveness of sins, keeping you in true faith. Comes and delivers His Word in the prayers of the church, delivering his Word through worship, this is the Divine Service, God coming to you, bringing you through the door, forgives your sin, delivers you from death and hell, and keeps you in His grace. He brings you all the way through. He comes and gives you life, and gives it abundantly. His is the voice that comforts you in your darkness, brings peace in times of fear and temptation. His the voice that closes the door of sin and death and brings you to life.
When the fears and terrors of this world surround you, when you are terrified because you see no escape, when every earthly voice is shaken, hear the voice of the Shepherd. He is the eternal I am, He brings you through the door, for he is the door, and He shepherds you to hear his voice, giving you forgiveness and life. The peace of God which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, unto life everlasting. Amen.