Sermon 04/25/21, 4th Sunday in Easter

Acts 4:5-2; Psalm 23; 1st John 3:16-24; John 10:11-18

The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of he shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me: your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in he presence of my enemies. You anoint my heard with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all he days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

David’s psalm reveals the many ways God reveals His loving kindness and protecting power to those who need Him. Grace is God’s unmerited blessing, freely given to those who need Him. The psalm also expresses confidence that God will help even in the worst of circumstances, including death and evil. God’s concern for us is illustrated by His being the Good Shepherd and the gracious Host.

God is the loving Shepherd and caring Host. At the beginning the sheep looked to the Shepherd for leadership, guidance, and protection, but in the end the guest, now situated securely in the safety of he Lord’s sanctuary, described the abundance of eternal provision. Life faces us with dangers and enemies. We can face life with confidence in God, for the we gain confidence through prayers of confidence.

In our lesson from Acts, Luke, beginning from verse 5 says, “The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, john, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family.” They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” “Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel; it is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead that this man stands before you healed.” He is “the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.” Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men w which we must be saved.”

While Peter and John were on trial for their faith, the Spirit empowered Peter to preach. Jesus had promised that under these circumstances the Spirit would tell the disciple/s what to say. In truth, beloved, the Spirit leads all those who preach the truth of God’s Word and gives them the words that will touch the hearts and minds of all people who hear the truth. Furthermore, all Christian proclamations are to be about Jesus, and the church is led by the Spirit to proclaim salvation through Christ Jesus. Peter and John were well aware of their power but knew it to be God’s power in them. The lame man, now healed, stood before the religious leaders. All they could do they did: they simply ordered silence about the man’s healing through he was over forty years old. Essentially they pointed from the healing the the Healer. Miracles must be used as opportunities to point people away from people and to God.

From the Lesson from 1st John, “This is how we know what love is. Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers.” In times of war, one soldier will say, “I got your six, you have mine?” This just means, I watching behind you, watch out for anything behind me. Everyone who ever served in the military, whether or not they served in combat or not, signed a blank check for up to and including their life for this country. This is why we ought to respect them for their service.

Jesus taught his disciples and so many followers that traveled along with him, from community to community through His words and especially through His interactions with other people, exactly what true, unconditional love is all about. We still have a lot of work to do, to make this apparent with all people, but that is the goal and the mission He left us with, in addition to spreading salvation through repentance and meaning it.

From the Gospel of John today, Jesus explains to us just what the Good Shepherd is and how much He loves us. If you have ever tried to move sheep from one location to another and they don’t know you, you will never get them to move to where you want them to go. The shepherd or owner of the sheep takes care of them, sees they have enough grass to eat, and move this so they won’t each the grass down to the roots. When the shepherd speaks to the, they begin to move under his direction to where he wants to them to go. If wolves comes up, he will either run the wolves off or kill them as a last resort. The sheep will always respond to the shepherd.

Jesus says, “I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me.” “I now the Father and the Father knows me.” The Father knows I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too, will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock.

All of this means is that there are other flocks. God’s people included others who are different race, nationality, and native religion than those to whom the gospel first came. All these belong to God because Jesus laid down His life for the sheep, all of them. Spiritual unity is God’s ultimate goal and his people will be of all shapes, sizes, colors, genders and that He loves all. Each church has a spiritual mission, and that is to bring all of God’s people together to help reach out to their communities, with the same love of God and His Son, and to share the salvation news with everyone else. The Cross revealed Go’s supreme love for us and for His Son. The cross did not surprise God. It was part of His plan of revelation, a plan to which Jesus totally committed Himself. How about you? Have you set aside all of the differences that we may have and celebrate the love of God through Christ Jesus? I pray so. Amen

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