Miscericordias Domini (Easter 3) - 2013
Delivered By
Pr. Mark D. Lovett
Delivered On
April 14, 2013
Central Passage
John 10:11-16

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit.

The Christian faith is quite simple. There is a God who loves His creation, more specifically He loves you. Our love is a mirror and shadow of God’s love. When we think of love we think of happy moments of blissful romance between two people in love, or the cute – and sometimes not so cute – puppy love of school girls. But we also think of the love of soldiers for their country and dads and moms for their children. We think of grandma’s love in warm cookies and grandpa’s love in fishing trips and sitting on the porch swing with his grandkids. These are pictures of God’s love, shadows of the reality.

We can see God’s love in the blissful romance between two people: not that He loves romantically but where there is romance there is care for the other person. Two people in love give one another their full attention, even to the point of making others sick of it. But it is a picture of God’s love, His desire for you. God desires you, to love you; to lavish you with gifts of His love. So like a school boy wooing his beloved, God woes you with the sweetness of the gospel and the promise of eternal life.

The Lord’s love for you is also like the love of a dad and mom, so enamored and captivated by their children they can hardly stand it. Moved to compassion like a father watching his children sleep, like a mother who receives her daughter’s hugs. God’s full attention is on you and what you do and what you say. So much so that He has numbered all the hairs on your head and has promised to listen every time you speak. Something no earthly father, no matter how much he loves his children, can or even wants to do. Your heavenly Father delights in you.

The Lord also loves you like a soldier that loves his countrymen. He fights for you and for your freedom. He defends you against the enemy by His word and the blood of Jesus. And while soldiers can and do give their lives for your freedom, that is all they can do. That is the end of their love. But your God not only laid down His life for you, and in so doing He destroyed the enemy, He is also risen from the dead for you to lead you to the victory of your resurrection and eternal life. Our love is a shadow of the reality of God’s love in Christ Jesus.

What God’s love isn’t is the tolerance of sinful humanity. His love isn’t the twisted worldly love of sinners that delight in their sin. God’s love is pure. It is holy. The world wants God’s love to be a tolerance of sinners and their sinfulness. And what they mean is not tolerance by putting up with sin and sinners, but by accepting them in their and to treat them as though they aren’t sinners doing sinful things. By tolerance the world really means acceptance and approval and even elevation of sin. But the Lord doesn’t accept and approve of sin. He receives and eats with sinners so that they will no longer be sinners, so that He can change them into saints. Not because He receives and accepts sin. The Lord Jesus laid down His life to rid the world of sin and sinfulness, not to make it okay and acceptable. God isn’t tolerant as the world thinks of tolerance. What He is, is waiting for sinners to repent. He is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. He is merciful, giving time for sinners to turn from their sin and live.

The Christian faith is quite simple, really. There is a God who created all things and who loves His creation. Most especially He loves you. And because He loves you and to give His love to you, He laid down His life for you. That is how God loves you, that is God’s love: Christ crucified for you.

And that is how He is the Good Shepherd, by laying down His life for you. Shepherds lead their flocks. So by His death the Good Shepherd leads you. He doesn’t lead into death but through death for He Himself did not stay dead. He leads you through the valley of the shadow of death. It is only a shadow because the substance belongs to Christ. He swallowed up death in His resurrection so that now only a shadow remains. And just like we tell our children not be scared of the shadows in their windows cast by leafless trees in the winter or by their stuffed animals in the closet, so our Lord God tells us not to be afraid of the shadow cast by death. Don’t be afraid because the Good Shepherd who laid down His life for you also took it up again and leads you through death to life.

And that’s the simplicity of the Christian faith. It’s not about morality and doing good and being a better person, or having a better life, though it touches all these things. It is about the Good Shepherd leading you through death to life.

The Good Shepherd gathers His flock to Himself. He feeds you and waters you with His Word and Sacraments. He guides you and leads you on the path of righteousness, which is the Lord Jesus Himself. Jesus is the path of righteousness because He is the Way. We follow Him in hearing His voice, being gathering by Him into His fold, and lying down and rising up again in His death and resurrection.  He is the Way and He is the true food and drink that sustains and nourishes you in the way.

The food you eat out there in your homes and at restaurants, just like the death that fills the cemeteries and grave yards, is a shadow of the true food and drink. Cheeseburgers and steaks and even garden salads only support and sustain the body. But the food and drink that are true quickens and makes alive the body and soul unto life everlasting.

The Christian faith is quite simple. The God that created the heavens and the earth, the seas and all that fills them, the God who created you, loves you and gathers you to Himself with all His flock to feed, water, and guide you to life eternal by the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Son of God.

+ In Nomine Iesu +