|Sermon Preparation -
April 25, 1999
"I tell you for certain that only thieves and robbers climb over the fence instead of going in through the gate to the sheep pen. But the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and he goes in through it. The sheep know their shepherd's voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out.
"When he has led out all of his sheep, he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice. The sheep will not follow strangers. They don't recognize a stranger's voice, and they run away."
Jesus told the people this story. But they did not understand what he was talking about.
"I tell you for certain that I am the gate for the sheep. Everyone who came before me was a their or a robber, and the sheep did not listen to any of them. I am the gate. All who come in through me will be saved. Through me they will come and go and find pasture.
"A thief comes only to rob, kill, and destroy. I came so that everyone would have life, and have it in its fullest...." [CEV]
1. The first story concludes with the recognition that Jesus was not understood. If you read on in John you will find that Jesus' further explanation leads folks to take sides -- some for Jesus and some against. That same process of misunderstanding or not understanding leads to the choosing of sides and pitting of one person or group against another.
2. Isn't it amazing how we almost always will give ear to those who would lessen life and find ourselves confused and divided by those who deal with life's larger picture, the fuller life. It is almost a rule of thumb that folks will settle for simpler answers to big questions than for inclusive responses to limiting situations.
3. The middle verses of John's gospel are 10:2-3: "But the gatekeeper opens the gate for the shepherd, and he goes in through it. The sheep know their shepherd's voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out."
Listen for your name being called. You are being called out of your past into life in its fullest. This can be scary. There is also nothing more exciting. Be ready to live in the big, inclusive picture of life at its fullest -- God's realm come on earth as it is in "heaven." What will need to change in your life to so live? What will need to change in the lives of those around you, the world around? Though difficult, those changes will be worth their trouble.
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