Original post at http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/blogspot/hYvZi/~3/wukIC0jOqKs/john-1022-30-sermon-hear-my-voice.html
GOD, did you mean for the giraffe to look like that or was
it an accident? GOD, instead of letting
people die and having to make new ones, why don't you just keep the ones you
have now? GOD, I went to this wedding and
they kissed right in church. Is that okay?
GOD, what does it mean you are a Jealous God? I thought you had
everything. GOD, thank you for the baby
brother, but what I prayed for was a puppy.
These are questions that children have asked God. They are funny and to look into a child’s
mind is always entertaining. But we all
have asked God questions at one time or another during our life.
In today’s text we receive another story of people asking
Jesus something. There seems to be a
tread that we can follow in these questions or better yet in the people who are
asking these questions. You can place
the people into three different categories: sincerity, entrapment or mistaken
assumptions. As one looks at the people
who sit there and ask Jesus questions, they fit into these three different
In the third chapter of John we receive a story of a
Pharisee Nicodemus who came to Jesus in the night to ask him questions. Nicodemus asks Jesus how someone can be born
again. He asks this question out of
sincerity. He honestly is looking for the answers. He knew that Jesus was a teacher who came
from God and wanted to know more, so Jesus answered him with care and
compassion. Jesus lead him down a gentle
path full of love and grace. The answer
given befuddled Nicodemus, there was not a huge light that came on that shows
us that he understood what Jesus meant by being born again. But the point is that Nicodemus’ heart was
sincere in the asking.
That is not the case for some of the other Pharisees in the
Jesus’ life. You don’t have to look too
far to see that they try to entrap Jesus in order to bring charges against him. Take Matthew’s recount in chapter 22, this is
a text many of you are familiar with. In
this story the Pharisees use one of their disciples to go and ask Jesus if they
should pay taxes or not. Verse 18 it
states, But Jesus, knowing their evil
intent, said, "You hypocrites, why are you trying to trap me? Show me the
coin used for paying the tax." They brought him a denarius, and he asked
them, "Whose portrait is this? And whose inscription?"
"Caesar's," they replied. Then he said to them, "Give to
Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's."
Jesus doesn’t answer them in the same tone as
he does Nicodemus. Here you can tell
that he is a little shorter with his answer, a little more poignant, and you
can sense the tension.
Then you have the mistaken assumption questions. People ask Jesus questions but frame it in
the wrong context or make assumptions about Jesus that they shouldn’t, and we
all know what kind of trouble you can get into if you assume things. This is the type of tone that today’s
question comes in. The people asking
Jesus a question are not sincere and they are not looking to entrap him, well
not quite yet. Within this question they
assume a lot and are mistaken in their assumptions.
First of all who is asking the question? John tells us that the Jews gathered around him.
Something that we have to remember is that the author of John’s gospel
does not mean the whole Jewish race. Traditionally
when you see the phrase “the Jews” in the Gospel of John it is in reference to
the Jewish religious leaders, the Pharisees and the Sadducees. The picture we receive now is one of the religious
leaders cornering Jesus while he was in the temple. The first verse of this section tells us why
Jesus is in the temple. It states that
it was the Feast of Dedication, or the Feast of Remembrance. It was a winter Feast and since it was probably
a little chilly Jesus found shelter in the south end of the second temple area
called Solomon’s Colonnade or porch.
What happened was the religious leaders may have gotten
caught up in all the celebrating. The
Feast of Remembrance is a time when they would look back at their history and
see their forefather’s victories over huge threats. This might have got the religious leaders
blood going and they wanted to have history repeat itself by getting rid of
their biggest threat, Jesus. In order to
do so they needed to get some things strait, they needed more information. They cornered him in the temple and asked
him, how long will you keep us in
suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.
The thing is with Jesus is that he can see into our hearts,
he knows our souls; therefore he knew why they were asking him what they
did. One of the commentaries I read
restated the question as this, Jesus, do
fit into our criteria of what the messiah looks like?
When they asked this they were demanding that
Jesus answer them on their terms. They
wanted the Son of God to tell them a yes or no answer if he was the
Messiah. Since Jesus saw into their
hearts though he knew the reason why they were asking was not a yes or no
answer, it was much more complicated than that.
Jesus always gives the answers that the people really need, which may
not be what they were looking for. The
main point we need to know is that the religious leaders were trying to push
Jesus into a box. We do this a lot with
God. We expect God to be the God we want
I have stumbled on a blog called Letters from Leavers.
site is dedicated to the rants of people who are fed up with the church. They are so tired of God, ministers, and
church people in their lives that they want to leave organized religion all
together. As I have read through some of
these posts I am convinced that many of these people suffer from the same thing
that these religious leaders did, trying to fit God into their own little box
Listen to one of these letters. I have
had enough. I am leaving for good this
time. I have always grown up in the
church, going to Sunday School, and attending worship. Recently I went through a tragedy and neither
God nor the church was there for me. I
prayed to God but God did not answer. I
reached out for help and all I got was a cold shoulder. I am fed up with this so called God. I always thought God was there to protect
you. God is there make sure bad things
don’t happen to the people that believe in him.
That was not the case though and so I am out. God is dead to me.
And then the letter goes on to rant about the
church and the people in it.
Is it God’s fault that bad things were happening to this
person? No, we live in a fallen world
and Jesus never made the promise that nothing bad would ever happen to us, that
is a huge misconception about God.
This person and so many more on this site all seem to be
asking Jesus questions like, are you the
God that will do things my way? Are you
the God who will shed riches upon me if I follow you? Are you the God who will let nothing wrong
ever happen to me again?
hears these questions his answer is, Am I
the Christ YOU are expecting, definitely not.
But why not? Why
cannot God be the God that we design? The
easiest answer is because we are not the designer, we are the designed, we are
the created, we are the children who cannot create the Father. Add on top of that, that we are humans,
fallen creatures who have a limited ability to fathom the awesomeness of
God. God is the only one who can tell us what God is like and he
does in the second half of this text.
In this part we receive wave after wave after wave of grace
from our Lord and Savior. It shows us
that although the Pharisees expected one thing out of Jesus, Jesus offers them
grace, care, and love for his sheep. Once
again in the tenth chapter of John we get a picture of Jesus as a Shepherd and
we are his lambs. This is a common theme
in John’s gospel and throughout the Bible.
That is the picture we receive from God.
Jesus, or God, is a shepherd and we are his sheep.
What do you picture when you think of sheep. For me I get the picture of the only place
that I have seen a ton of sheep, England.
and I lived over in
England for a year we saw a lot of sheep in a lot of different areas. The town we lived in was right next to the
Moors, a barren and unlivable place for humans, but a great place for sheep to
roam free. As we would drive around
these moors we would always have to be on the lookout for sheep in the road. With
all the grass that is in the moors, some very intelligent sheep would find the
grass nearest to the fast moving machines known as cars to be the
tastiest. Inevitably we would see that
one of these fast moving machines would collide with one of this not so
intelligent creatures and the loser would always be the sheep.
It got me thinking about this image of sheep and shepherd that
we get so much of in the Bible. I looked
at this dead sheep on the road and I would think to myself, I don’t know if I
want to be God’s sheep. I know like a
sheep I will be sheared tonight but I hope I don’t smell as bad as they
do. I hope I have a little more
intelligence, no much but a little bit more than they do. I hope that I don’t just follow God because I
don’t know any better. All of a sudden
this analogy was not working for in my 21st
century mind. The truth is it might not work in many of
your minds too because of your experience with these animals.
As I looked back on this analogy I came to a realization. I am doing it again. I am making it about me.
I am making it about us, instead of making it about God and
learning something about God within this illustration. What do we learn about God as the shepherd
instead of us as sheep. Verse 27 says, My sheep listen to my voice; I know them,
and they follow me.
In the text it
states that Jesus is the kind of shepherd that knows each one of his
sheep. He loves his sheep so much that
he gets to know them personally. God is
a God that is personal and wants to have that personal relationship with
you. It also states that if we are
Jesus’ sheep then we know his voice. We
know when Jesus is calling us. That
tells us that Jesus is talking to us. This
means that our shepherd is active in our lives and cares so much about us, that
he wants to talk to us, call out to us.
What is it though that the shepherd offers his sheep? Eternal life.
Verse 28 states I give them
eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my
hand. Jesus is the type of shepherd
that offers such an amazing gift to his followers. He is so loving, so generous that he wants
his sheep to be with him forever. He offers us a gift that no one else can give us. He gives us eternity, a piece of eternity
that no one can take away. We worship
one loving God.
Can you see the waves of grace now? Can you see the loving care, compassion, and
joy that Christ offers to his sheep? Even though the idea of being a smelly
creature like sheep may be a little outdated, we can understand the care that
Jesus offers. We can understand a little
bit better who our shepherd is. In this
text God is telling us who God is and I don’t know about you all but I like
what I see.
God is telling his followers that we do not have to worry
about eternity. We can loss the fear of
the future. All we have to do is follow
the shepherd. If we do then we will have
eternal life. The thing is though many of us don’t truly believe that in
our hearts. We have been tricked before
in life. We know that people fail to
live up their promises. We have been hurt, lied to, and our hearts have been ripped
out and stomped on. What makes us trust
We can trust God because God has never let us down. God promised to never flood the world again
and sends the rainbows to remind us of that, and God has lived up to that
promise. God promised that when the time
was right he would makes things right again between us and him. He would send his Son to die our death in
order that we may have eternal life. Jesus
came to defeat death by rising again on the third day. We are in the Easter season, a time when we
joyfully proclaim that God did exactly what God said he would do. God has always lived up to his promises. There has never, in this history of the
world, been a time when God has messed up or failed to do what was promised.
This must mean that if verse 30 is true. If Jesus and the Father are one, if they and
the Holy Spirit make up the 3 in 1 God that we worship and they have never
failed in the past, then we can rest assured that they will never fail in the
future. All of God’s energy, strength
and love was put into the sacrifice that was made on the cross. God did not fail and God never fails us. This means that the promise of an eternal
life with God must be true. This means that the Good Shepherd never leaves our side and
is always with us through our life.
We see this in the 23rd
Psalm, the second most
memorized section of the Bible. Even
though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will not fear, for
you are with me. Your rod and your staff,
your shepherd’s crook they comfort me. God’s
grace keeps washing over us.
It is alright to ask God questions, that is how we
understand who God is. Asking God to be
our image of God will always create a God who fails in some way. This means that we need to have God tell us
who God is. Once we do so we need to rest assured that God will live up
to his promises. Jesus, in this text
promises to give his sheep eternal life.
No matter who tries to take that away from us they cannot because it is
God’s grace to give out not ours. It is
our job to accept that grace. It is our
job to hear that voice of hope and love; that voice of salvation and simply say
thank you. Then live a life knowing that
Jesus is there with us all along the way. Live knowing that you are wrapped up in the hands of God no
matter what happens. That is the voice
that calls to each of us. That is God we worship here today.