The Voice of the Shepherd

This is an adapted form of the sermon I preached on the Fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C), April 17, 2016. The gospel of the day is John 10:22-30. In this sermon, I focus on just how powerful and subversive God’s grace is.

Don’t leave us in suspense anymore, Jesus. Tell us now, plainly. Are you the Messiah? Are you our Savior?

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.

I don’t know for sure if I’m hearing you. How can I tell? Your voice isn’t like other voices.

Listen for something on the wind that says, “I love you.”
Something on the wind that says, “I forgive you.”
Something on the wind that says, “Follow me, and receive life.”
That is my voice.

I do hear that voice sometimes, Jesus, but I also hear many other voices.
Voices that say, “God is angry with you.”
Voices that say, “God is punishing you.”
Voices that say, “You haven’t been good enough.”

You know that those are not my voice.

But many people say that is your voice. And many parts of scripture seem to concur. I want to believe that your voice is one of love and forgiveness, but I’m scared that’s not who you are.

You are my sheep, and I am your shepherd. Listen to my voice. I am the one who gives you eternal life. Follow me, and receive that life.

I believe in you, Jesus, and I’m trying to follow you, but I’m scared that I will slip someday. What if my faith slips? What if I drift away? Will I lose my chance to go to heaven?

No one will snatch my sheep out of my hand. No one will ever snatch you out of my hand. Not the devil, not any earthly leader, not even you. Do you think you are stronger than my love? Do you think you have the power to nullify my promise? There is nothing you can do to take my love away from you.

Jesus, I’m suffering today. Do I have to wait until I die to find peace?

I give my sheep eternal life. Eternal life isn’t only about the afterlife. It’s a different kind of living now. It’s a gift I give you now. Your suffering may not go away immediately, but you will find life, eternal life even in it. Listen to my voice, and you’ll find it.

Jesus, I’ve made too many mistakes. How many times will you forgive me?

I told Simon Peter to forgive seventy-seven times. How much more with your heavenly Father forgive?

Jesus, I’m gay.
Jesus, I’m transgender.
sorrow-699606_1920Jesus, I have cancer.
Jesus, I have schizophrenia.
Jesus, I’m a Republican.
Jesus, I’m a Democrat.
Jesus, I’m black.
Jesus, I’m white.
Jesus, I’m an immigrant.
Jesus, I’m disabled.
Jesus, I’m a soldier.
Jesus, I’m a criminal.
Jesus, I’m a child.
Jesus, I’m retired.
Jesus, I’m rich.
Jesus, I’m poor.
Jesus, what about me?

If you hear my voice, then you are one of my sheep. I love you. Follow me. And together, all of you are my flock. Together, all of you, follow me.

But Jesus, I don’t get along with all these people.

You are my sheep. You are my flock. I am calling you all to follow me. You don’t have to agree with one another. You don’t have to like one another. But I am calling you to love one another. Just as I have loved you, so you should love one another.

But Jesus, what if we don’t love each other?

I love you. I forgive you. I’ll give you another chance. And another. And another. Remember that I love all my sheep. Remember that I forgive all my sheep. Remember that I am guiding all my sheep into eternal life. And no one will snatch any of them away from me.

Jesus, help me to do this.

Yes.

 

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