Sermon for Fourth Sunday of Easter

John 10:1-10

In the name of Jesus:

Another church has fallen to their knees to worship at the altar of the world. For those who have not heard, the PC (USA), are now allowing openly practicing lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgenders to be ministers. Late Tuesday night the Twin City Presbytery in MN casted the 83rd vote, out of 173 Presbyteries in the United States, to pass this new false doctrine, this heresy, in their church. A heresy that says ‘your sin is no big deal. You’ll be fine.’ Which ends up meaning that you don’t need Jesus to forgive you or to have died for you.

St. Paul says in Romans “I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them. For such persons do not serve our Lord Christ, but their own appetites, and by smooth talk and flattery they deceive the hearts of the naive.” (Romans 16:17-18)

Another church has fallen and worships at the altar of the world instead of the creator of the world. Today is certainly a sad day.

The 2.1 million members of the PC (USA) join the 2.18 million members of the Episcopalian Church and the 2.25 million members of the ELCA as being sheep whose under-shepherds have become thieves who have come to ‘steal, kill and destroy’. The leadership of the PC (USA), the Episcopalian Church and the ELCA are all wearing “sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).

The leadership of these church bodies has abandoned the Word of God. St Paul says in 1 Cor. 6:9-10 “Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.” and in Romans 1 “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. … Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.” (26, 27, 32)

As St. Paul plainly states, and as the LCMS agrees, homosexuality is a sin. These other churches have gone from calling homosexuality a sin that needs to be repented of, just like theft, murder, and lying that we all do on a daily basis, to saying that it is no longer a sin and that one need not repent of it.   The church leaders who approved this ignoring of the Word of God need to repent. The ministers practicing the LGBT lifestyle need to repent. They need to seek forgiveness and turn from these false shepherds who have snuck in, to the true Shepherd Jesus Christ, The Shepherd who lays down His own life for His sheep, who knows them by name.

These shepherds of heresy, who enter the gate only to steal, kill and destroy, rule by fear. Just like the Pharisees in the days of Jesus Christ who cast the blind man in John 9 out of the Synagogue because he told them the truth about Jesus Christ who healed him from his blindness from birth.

False shepherds do not take care of their sheep. They will not lay their lives down when push comes to shove. Instead they lay down their sheeps’ lives to make theirs better. False shepherds make new ways to be inclusive at the cost of the souls of their sheep that they are given to protect. They ignore their sheep, all in order to bring forth social change, not only in their church, but in the world.

These false shepherds do not enter through the gate. Instead, they go around the gate. They find a place to climb over and get in any way that they can. For many church bodies that means making promises of church growth, or increased cultural impact. They well craft their lies and present them as perfectly as anyone can with tongues of silver, just like their father did in the Garden of Eden, for the Devil is the father of all lies.

Thank God that we have a shepherd who enters through the gate. Our shepherd is not just another shepherd, or an under-shepherd, someone hired to be an assistant. Instead He is the Good Shepherd. Our Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is the Shepherd that will leave the 99 to go find the 1 lost sheep. He knows all of His sheep by name, and they know Him by His voice.

His sheep know His voice. You know His voice, because you have heard Him speak to you. You have heard His voice in His Word that is proclaimed to you. His voice is the voice that tells you, ‘I forgive you all of your sins’ after you have confessed them at the beginning of this service.

His voice is the voice that says, ‘You are mine!’ His voice is the voice that you have heard in His Word, the Scriptures, telling people that He has healed, ‘Go! Your faith has made you well.’ His voice is heard in the Word that is read to you from the lectern. His voice is the Word that is preached to you and proclaimed from this pulpit.

When that proclaimed Word says ‘You are forgiven! You are mine!’ It is saying that all of your sins; the sins of anger that you feel towards your neighbor because that person almost hit your car because they weren’t paying attention while driving. The sins of lying to your spouse, even the small ones like saying that you’re going to do the dishes, but instead say ‘I forgot.’ I’m guilty of that one. To even your sins of arrogance and pride for accomplishing something that has nothing to do with you. You have also sinned in thought, word and deed, by things done and undone. You have fallen short of the Glory of God. You are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24).

The Good Shepherd lays down His life for His sheep. He knows you by name. He has formed your inward parts; He knitted you together in your mother’s womb, you are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:13-14).

That is why He, and He alone took your punishment, the punishment that you have deserved for a lifetime of sin. Christ redeemed you from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for you–for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree (Gal 3:13). For your sake God made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him you might become the righteousness of God (2 Cor 5:21).

Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, accomplishes this with His death and resurrection. This means that Jesus was, as we confess, conceived by the Holy Spirit, and born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died and was buried. He descended into hell. On the third day He rose again from the dead.

It was in this death, life was bought for you. It is from hearing the voice of your Shepherd that you know and believe that out of the death of the Good Shepherd, Jesus Christ, comes your life. He was wounded for your transgressions; He was crushed for your iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought you peace, and with his stripes you are healed (Isaiah 53:5).

From those stripes water flowed. The same water that you were baptized in, making you one of the Good Shepherd’s sheep. The blood that flowed from that same stripe, as well as from this stripes on his back where He was beaten, from the holes in His hands and His feet, as well as where the crown of thorns sat, you drink for the forgiveness of sin at the Sacrament of the Altar. The Sacrament where Jesus, the Good Shepherd is, as Dr. Luther once wrote, “at one and the same time chief, cook, butler, host, and food.”

It is from His voice, the voice of the Good Shepherd, that you know Jesus is Lord. It is from the Good Shepherd’s body and blood, from His water that flowed from His pierced side, that you know that Jesus is the Lord, that your sins are forgiven. You know that this shepherd has laid down His life for His Sheep, so that you may have life and have it abundantly. Amen.

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