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The Could Not See This… Will We Refuse to?

closed eyed man holding his face using both of his hands

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John 9:40–41 (CEV) — When the Pharisees heard Jesus say this, they asked, “Are we blind?” 41 Jesus answered, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty. But now that you claim to see, you will keep on being guilty.”

And what decides it is your love. “In the twilight of our lives, we will be judged on how we have loved”, says John of the Cross, one of the great Christian mystics and lovers. From the beginning to the end, love is the guiding thread that leads us through all the labyrinths of time and life and history.
At the end, when we look into the eyes of our divine Lover, we shall see ourselves in totality, we shall see ourselves as He saw us and designed us from the beginning. At the end we shall touch the beginning. We shall hear Him sing to us something like the popular songwriter Dan Fogelberg’s lovely song “Longer”:
Longer than there’ve been fishes in the ocean,
Higher than any tree ever grew,
Longer than there’ve been stars up in the heavens,
I’ve been in love with you.
Jesus says something very much like this: “Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world’ ” (Mt 25:34).

Some avoid seeing it by locking onto tradition. Others by keeping busy working in the mission field. Others dive deep into academic approaches to theology. Some dive deep into doing things, into being a workaholic, as if over-using the talents of God is pleasing to Him.

I think all of these pursuits allow us to avoid actually interacting with God, much as Israel did at Sinai when they pleased that God speak through Moses. This is the modern version of Phariseeism – avoiding God.

I am not sure why we are afraid to explore the width and length, the height and depth of the love of God, but we are!  We don’t want to know that God passionately loves us, that He desires an intimate relationship with us.  We scoff at such, saying it sounds to sexual or even to effeminate. And we are less likely to talk and meditate on this love that 9 guys are to sit down and watch a Hallmark movie together!

So we remain blind to the immense love of God. We know all about Him, we can defend His existence, but like the Pharisees standing in the presence of the Lord God Almighty, we remain blind.

We are unable to sit and meditate on the love of God – because we are afraid of that love.

Read that line again…

Kreeft’s words get to the heart of the matter. They are glorious to read, yet as glorious as they are, they are challenging.

To look into Jesus’ eyes, and see how He sees us?

To see the depth of love that He has for us when we struggle to know who we really are?.

It is time to stop all that…

It is time to be still, and let your eyes be opened and see that He is God – and that he loves YOU!  Amen!

Peter Kreeft, The God Who Loves You (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2004), 135.

Blinded by Theology: The Case of Perfect Knowledge without the right purpose

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERADevotional Thought fo the Day:

27 “I have already told you,” he answered, “and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Maybe you, too, would like to be his disciples?”
28 They cursed him and said, “You are that fellow’s disciple; but we are Moses’ disciples. 29We know that God spoke to Moses; as for that fellow, however, we do not even know where he comes from!”
30 The man answered, “What a strange thing that is! You do not know where he comes from, but he cured me of my blindness! 31We know that God does not listen to sinners; he does listen to people who respect him and do what he wants them to do. 32Since the beginning of the world nobody has ever heard of anyone giving sight to a person born blind. 33Unless this man came from God, he would not be able to do a thing.”   John 9:27-39 TEV

7  Yet every advantage that I had gained I considered lost for Christ’s sake. Yes, and I look upon everything as loss compared with the overwhelming gain of knowing Jesus Christ my Lord. For his sake I did in actual fact suffer the loss of everything, but I considered it useless rubbish compared with being able to win Christ. For now my place is in him, and I am not dependent upon any of the self-achieved righteousness of the Law. God has given me that genuine righteousness which comes from faith in Christ. How changed are my ambitions! Now I long to know Christ and the power shown by his resurrection: now I long to share his sufferings, even to die as he died, so that I may perhaps attain as he did, the resurrection from the dead.
Philippians 3:7 (Phillips NT)

These are great mysteries and far above all human comprehension. But we know that these holy mysteries have been revealed to the church, in order that we might pray to God properly and consider reasons for this marvelous kindness, that God, by an eternal association, joined a human nature to Himself. Therefore He truly cares for us and loves us and sent this Son that He might be the Redeemer and soften His wrath against sin, as needs to be said repeatedly later.  ( from the section by Melancthon) 

As I grow older, I am coming to realize that the biggest handicap for a pastor may be his intellect and reason, and how it is educated rather than formed.  How area minds are taught to seek the deep mysteries, not to be in awe of God, but to be able to teach purely, to be able to note and correct each other.

While there is a need for such correction and for proper teaching, those resources of intellect and reason, the time invested in education are wasted in the purpose is wrong.

We see this in Melancthon’s words, highlighted in blue above.  Talking about the mysteries of the Trinity, and of Christology, he concludes that the reason for the revelation of the existence of these mysteries, and the depth of our knowledge of them is to one end.

These things are revealed that we could pray, that we could communicate with Lord of love who binds us to Himself eternally as He cleanses us and restores us.  Our pursuit must not be the mysteries that are beyond our comprehension, but the love of God which is clearly seen, and which transformed all that it draws and connects to Him.

This is why the blind man could easily see that Jesus was special, that the miracle he did drew him to be Christ’s disciple as well.  And the Pharisees and leaders of the synagogue, the men the mysteries of scripture were entrusted too, could not get past their own doubts. They remained blinded by their theology and didn’t see that they were in the presence of God.

These weren’t men that pursued knowledge for malicious purposes.   They didn’t study the scriptures daily with the intent of enslaving others to a religious system to take advantage of them.  Even Paul, before encountering Jesus, talked of being righteous according to the Law.  But that righteousness he would set aside, that justification of his own actions, so meticulously laid out, was worthless.

He needed to know God.  He needed God to walk with Him, to comfort and shepherd Him.  He needed the Holy Spirit’s presence to lift him up, to draw him to the reconciliation and transformation, not only being justified completely, but being sanctified.  TO know, as he wrote in Hebrews, that he could boldly walk into the Father’s holy, almighty presence.

That is the purpose of theology, the place it starts and ends.  Prayer, that moment we go to God, in desperate need, humbly asking Him to be here, and hearing a response of a God who our mind can’t fathom.  Yet in whose presence our hearts rejoice, and in front of whom our souls dance, free of sin, and sure that we are home with Him.

So next time you pick up that tome, or search that dataset, know what you are looking for, what you are searching for, that your people need to be taught.  The height, the depth, the width and breadth of God’s love for you, and for them.

That will be made clear in His glorious presence, and make this known as well;  THE LORD IS WITH YOU!



Chemnitz, Martin, and Jacob A. O. Preus. Loci Theologici. electronic ed. St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1999. Print.

It’s time to come home: A sermon on Luke 15

It’s Time to Come Home

Luke 15:1-10

In Jesus Name

 May the grace, the incredible love, mercy, and peace of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, give you confidence and desire to let Him joyfully carry you home!

You are the One:

When you compare the epistle and the gospel lessons this morning, there is a conclusion you can draw that is pretty simple.

Paul didn’t see himself as one of the 99.

He saw himself as the one, the one who wasn’t just lost, but in the process of being destroyed.

He saw himself as the one who was as notorious a sinner as any, yet he realized the incredible patience of God, who searched for him, and found him.

The challenge isn’t thinking we are the ones who get to celebrate Paul’s return, but the fact that we, like Paul, needed to be rescued.  For we like Paul, find ourselves broken, lost and in need of a savior.

And when we trust Jesus, and He joyfully carries us home… then there is a party like none we’ve ever seen.

To get there – there are a few challenges

It’s not “them.”

The first challenge is realizing who we are.  There are two groups mentioned in the gospel.  The first group who work and sincerely dedicate their entire lives to following God’s law – to living as He commanded.  The second group is our group – the group that is notorious sinners.

Now I need to let you know what a notorious sinner is.  It’s not as bad as it sounds…

It’s actually kind of worse.

One of the ways the word is defined in Greek is one who falls off the path, one who can’t stay on it.  We understand that the path is narrow, but I don’t think we realize it is a bridge like this one, with ditches that are about 1000 feet deep to each side.

Sort of like this path in China that they call the glass path.

Here’s another view.

Sin is simply deviating from the path.  It doesn’t matter whether it is using God’s name in the wrong way, murder, adultery or gossip.  It is sin, and you and I fall into it, far too often.

Even as the Pharisees stand there, judging the tax collectors and notorious sinners, they are sinning, denying the very grace of God, the grace they were entrusted with, the grace that should have inspired them to help others come to hear Jesus.

Jesus realizes this, and there is a gentle jab at the Pharisees when he says the shepherd leaves the 99 in the wilderness – for he identifies that all are in the wilderness,

The wilderness – the place of nothingness, the place without any blessing from God.

The ones who determined they are holy enough, that they are truly dedicated to God, find themselves outside… while the sheep who lay dying, is brought home…

And brought home Scripture says – joyfully.

Guess it pays off to admit we need His mercy, that we need God to find us. Doesn’t that sound strange?  That those who depend on their strength are left behind, while those needy are brought to safety and celebration?

There is joy in your transformation

This is the second challenge.  We need to recognize the joy that Jesus has bringing us home and the fact that the work brings more joy to God than the 99 who are righteous. Of course, we know that none are righteous, but even so, the picture of Jesus is one with a grin on his face!

Dad, I’ve brought another one home!

Now imagine him saying it on the cross – it’s finished – Tom’s home, Al’s home, you’ve been brought home.

Remember, the letter to the Hebrews tells us that it was this very joy of getting us into the kingdom of God, bringing us to where we should be, that Jesus endured the cross.

What an amazing thing!

To think that what brings God the greatest joy – and all of heaven with Him is when we trust Him enough to cleanse us, heal us, and bring us into the presence of the Father.

That is what brings God joy, for us to become His children, for us to become His people, for us to realize, and trust the fact that He is our God, our heavenly father.

I don’t know if we understand that all too well.  That when we realize God’s grace, when we have an aha moment when His grace transforms our lives and that is seen, the joy it brings Him and all heaven is greater than our awe, and our joy!

The Feast.

It is so great – that Jesus’s parable mentions a great feast – a great party full of joy, inviting everyone to rejoice with Him.  The same for the lady who finds the reward for her work, that was for a moment – thought lost. They both throw a feast – as they recover something quite precious to them.

I often wondered- for the man who owned the sheep – what did they feast on?  What was the main course?

I mean, it would be a little odd to throw a feast like that and serve lamb chops!

I bring the sermon to a close with this; the man gave his life to bring us home, to carry us with him in His death and resurrection,

and so for this feast- celebrating our homecoming, celebrating our repentant, transformed life, is a feast where the host serves the very best – where He gives His all to us.

His broken body, the blood poured out so that we could be brought home… and this feast is on of great joy, as it celebrates this,

Alleluia! He is Risen indeed
He is Risen!  Indeed!  Alleluia

And therefore,

We are risen alleluia indeed!
And He has brought us home….

Confronting The Inner Pharisee…

Devotional Thought fo the Day:

13 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You lock the kingdom of heaven* before human beings. You do not enter yourselves, nor do you allow entrance to those trying to enter. “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites. You traverse sea and land to make one convert, and when that happens you make him a child of Gehenna twice as much as yourselves. NABRE Matt 23:13-15

I have loved thy beauty, and the place of the habitation of the glory of my Lord, thy builder and possessor. Let my wayfaring sigh after thee, and I say to Him that made thee, let Him take possession of me also in thee, seeing He hath made me likewise. I have gone astray like a lost sheep: yet upon the shoulders of my Shepherd, thy builder, hope I to be brought back to thee. (1) 

As I come to Matthew 23 in my devotions, I feel the necessity to guard my heart.  It is all too easy as Jesus begins to challenge Pharisees and Sadducees to begin to name their modern counterparts.

I know them, as they sit on either end of the spectrum, trying to create a system out of the covenant relationship God calls us into being , as His children, His beloved.   As they create rules and rubrics, best practices and by-laws, assuring others that doing so is faithful and proper, missional and confessional.

I see them as either throwing out the baby with the baptismal water or drowning the baby in it, oblivious to the baby, for the sake of the holy water.

And this is exactly why I have to guard my heart, for Jesus words aren’t just calling them to repentance, but they are calling me to repentance.  For I can lock the door on these Pharisees and Sadducees as quickly as they do for those I find myself akin to, those who are broken, lost and trying desperately to hear His voice of hope. What is worse, my cynical and sarcastic response to the Pharisee or Sadducee sets a horrid example for those I am leading, those who I am discipling.  An example which doesn’t shepherd them into the presence of Christ who would heal them, but away from Him, into the desert where they will trust no one, eventually including me.

So where is my hope, how can I allow my inner Pharisee to be called to repentance, and see God deal with those who would drive people to a place outside the church?

I think Augustine in his simple brilliance showed me an answer this morning.

Focus on the presence of God!  Let him carry you broken back tot he Father.  We have to abandon yourself into His care, His guidance, join Him on the cross, and let Him heal us, including killing off our inner pharisee, or at preferably, purifying that devoted pharisee in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  We need to let the Father remind us that we are in the presence of God, in His dwelling place, and call our mind back from the pigpens where our brothers were living large.

There is hope for Pharisees, and Sadduccees and so many others…

In the cross, in being carried back, physically or spiritually, into the presence of God’s glory, God’s mercy, God’s love.

And that is where we belong….   AMEN!

(1)  Augustine, S., Bishop of Hippo. (1996). The Confessions of St. Augustine. (E. B. Pusey, Trans.). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.


What Child is This? The One Who Causes Blind to See, And to Reveal Others are Blind

Sermon from Concordia Lutheran ChurchMy Church's Building - our goal - to see it restored and filled with people who find healing in Christ Jesus, while helping others heal
march 30, 2014

What Child is This?
The One Who Causes Blind to See, 
And to Reveal Others are Blind

John 9:1-41

 May you rejoice as the grace of God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ opens your eyes to His presence and the restoration of brokenness!


So much talk about sin and its effects!

The gospel reading this morning is one of the longest we have all year, more than half the length of an average sermon.

it reminds me of the Old Testament Book of Job, but not because of the length, it shares the same quality that the Book of Job does, as we look at the discussions that take place.  Discussions that are fascinating, discussions that touch on different theological and philosophical questions.  Discussions that offer little comfort, peace, that are pretty much blind.

But discussions, at the end of it, are blind to the presence of God in the flesh, and blind to the work that Jesus would do. They don’t lead them to the truth, they don’t change their actions, they simply to seek to look back,

It would be like wondering what was responsible for an earthquake, and not bothering to get under a desk, or in a doorway!

Seriously, they while the discussions were going on, incredible things were going on, right there in front of them…..

God, revealed among them, and as we pray in the Kyrie he was helping, saving, comforting, and defending them… even as He does us.

So let’s look at the discussions, and what they missed…..  (click)

Question 1 – who’s responsible for this brokenness

The passage opens up, with a discussion of his committed followers, which they bring to him to answer.

“Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?”
We are well into the gospels at this point, they had heard Jesus’s testimony that he was the fulfillment of Isaiah’s promise that the Messiah would bring healing to the blind and to the broken hearted, and their question is about what is the root cause of the blindness?

They could have asked Jesus if he would have healed him.  Or perhaps asked Jesus to heal him. They could have asked how they could have helped.

But instead they treat him like a …. Object? A Thing to be discussed and a lesson in theology and philosophy.

They don’t see the man, and they certainly don’t see the reason that Jesus will lay out before them,
Answer: Jesus heals the brokenness


“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.
There isn’t a day when I wish such work of God could be done here, that people who have devastating physical issues, couldn’t all be healed, that they couldn’t all be restored.  It would be dangerous to take from this passage the idea that God is only glorified in the physical healing of a person.  We’ll see why in the second discussion.

What I want us to see in this, is not the miracle of a healing, for something greater is about to happen.  Something that will affect the man more deeply, more powerfully.

We need to see though, that Jesus saw the man, the man in great need, and responded.

The disciples didn’t, they hadn’t learned that lesson yet, but Peter would, when Jesus tells him three times to feed my sheep, and when he and John take time to heal the man begging at the Temple’s gates.

CLICK  Discussion lesson number one, Jesus saw the man, not the sin that hinders him.

When we are dealing with people who are broken, as we were, it doesn’t matter how they were broken, whose sin has broken them, or even what the sin was.

It matters that the person was one whom God desired to minister to, to bring them into the kind of transformation where sin could not hinder him from living.  To bring him to the realization that He was God’s child, and NOTHING could separate him from God’s love, revealed in Christ.

Which brings us to the second part of the conversation….the meeting of the Pharisees…

Discussion 2 – how can Jesus do anything about this?

The progress of the discussion went something like this.

A major disagreement about whether Jesus could do such a miracle.  Some say it’s impossible, because Jesus healed on the Sabbath, others are in shock, and can’t explain it… because how does a ordinary man do such things.

The mind works in odd ways, and rather than finding themselves in God’s presence, they decide they don’t have the right information… they call in the Blind man…

“We don’t believe you are the blind man.”  “Yes, I am,”  He responds.

Drats – they were hoping that maybe it was a temporary condition, and reversed itself.  So they call in the parents….

“We don’t believe your son was born blind….”

“Yes, he was, but we don’t know what happened to him,” they say in timid, anxious voices, knowing what the Pharisees don’t want to hear….

ARRGGGHHH – get the young man back in….

And they ask his opinion, as if the opinion of a man who never looked at a night sky, at seen trees and looked into the eyes of those he loved, would say something to detract from the miracle that happened to him…. “Simple, He is from God!”  And so they boot him out of the community.

While the first discussion didn’t see the man, the second didn’t see the God who would claim the man as his own, as one of His people.  They couldn’t see God’s love for this man, this one they discounted as the sinner.  CLICK

Discussion lesson #2 – Don’t miss that God wants to do something in every person’s life. To make himself known to them as real, as loving, as merciful, as their Lord, Savior, Father, Friend, Advocate….

You see, the goal of the interaction wasn’t just to heal the man of His physical ailments.  Remember Jesus’ earlier answer?

“It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.

For to see a man healed of being blind is amazing, miraculous, just as many of Jesus miracles left people stunned,  Yet, something more miraculous happens.  Jesus doesn’t just leave the man with his physical sight….

He establishes a relationship!  The man hears something, that talked of eternity, about the restoration of the people of God.  For in revealing that He is the Son of Man, Jesus reveals that the people of God will be made whole, not some time in the future, but soon, and that Jesus is the long awaited one who will fulfilled the promises revealed in Ezekiel.

Jesus reveals He is the Son of Man the one who knows God’s heart, so clearly revealed in Ezekiel, (CLICK)

21  Suppose wicked people stop sinning and start obeying my laws and doing right. They won’t be put to death. 22  All their sins will be forgiven, and they will live because they did right. 23  I, the LORD God, don’t like to see wicked people die. I enjoy seeing them turn from their sins and live. Ezekiel 18:21-24 (CEV)
Jesus is revealing that it is time for God to make His people, His again, for them to realize that He will be their God, forever.  He will raise them, even as the prophesy at the Valley of Dry Bones, or the chapter before, where God promises to wash us, to replace our hearts of stones, with hearts of flesh, to send His Spirit to live inside of us…

Such a revelation, to this man who simply realized that Jesus was from God.  That is what is glorious, God coming to this man, God revealing Himself to Him.

When others couldn’t see the simple truth, the truth that they claimed expertise, but overlooked the heart of God who would come to the broken and restore them.

Glorious – that God would come to man, that He would assure them of His love, His faithfulness.  It’s not about who was the sinner, or whether man can heal on Sunday, its’ about the love of God for His people, revealed in Christ. That is why we ask what child is this?  And why we know and trust in Him…..
That would bring His people, broken and abandoned, that would bring us into His peace.  The peace of God, which passes all understanding, the peace of God that you are brought into and kept, by Jesus the Christ.


Hear His Voice, Know He Knows You, and Follow Him!

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pan...

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pantocrator; Istanbul, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mos...

English: Jesus Christ – detail from Deesis mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hear His Voice, Know He Knows You, and Follow Him!

John 10:22-30

 † IHS †

May you hear the voice of Christ, calling you to walk with Him into the Father’s presence…and being assured by His love and mercy as you begin to dwell in His peace.

 Hear, Know, Follow

I love the scene described in Revelation, and what I really love even more is that we see a little of it here, this morning.  Consider verse 9, “After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes,

And though we don’t have a great multitude here, we do have people from so many places.  Little Chloe, our newest sister in the faith, here family is from Nigeria, and Helli, who read that passage so beautifully, is from Germany, We have people from the Philippines, Denmark, Switzerland, Indonesia, India, China, Guyana, from Boston and even that really foreign place… Los Angeles!  Five continents, gathered here by God to this place today, to share in His love, a foretaste of the gathering that there will be in heaven!

But there is another part of that reading – that just saw the preliminary fulfillment of today, as this little one was claimed by God, and united to Christ’s death, and His resurrection,

 13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

That’s our little sister, Chloe, and it is us, those who have been gathered by our Shepherd, those who are the sheep He protects and who are given to Him by the Father.  And it is us that Jesus described in verse 27 of our gospel

27,  “. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Remember these words,  Hear.  Know.  Follow.

Hear – passive…yet empowering…

I don’t know if this happens to you ever, but it seems to happen to me more and more as I get older.  Kay is in the kitchen, and she’s about to come into the living room, so I ask her to get me a diet coke on her way.  She says, “okay”, and I go back to reading.  About ten minutes later, I realize I am still thirsty, and remember asking about the soda, but never “getting” it.  So I get up, go and grab another one, and as I go to put it down on the table next to where I sit, I see the one Kay brought for me.

If it was a snake… I’d be bit a thousand times.

Sometimes we can be pretty “oblivious” to that which is going on around us, and I bet I am not the only guy who is occasionally oblivious to the things his wife does for him.  Hopefully the occasionally aren’t more than 2-3 times a …

That is how the people of God were, as they surrounded Him and asked Him to tell them “plainly” if he were the Christ.  I mean – didn’t the healings, the freeing people from demonic possession and oppression, the teaching that was so unlike that others because it spoke with God the Father’s authority – wasn’t that enough “evidence” of the fact that Jesus was the Christ?

It is like the story found in the gospel’s about Jesus healing the man not just blinded – but born blind. When the Pharisees question him about the healing and Jesus,

30  The man replied, “This is amazing! You claim to know nothing about him, but the fact is, he opened my eyes! 31  It’s well known that God isn’t at the beck and call of sinners, but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence and does his will. 32  That someone opened the eyes of a man born blind has never been heard of—ever. 33  If this man didn’t come from God, he wouldn’t be able to do anything.” 34  They said, “You’re nothing but dirt! How dare you take that tone with us!” Then they threw him out in the street. 35  Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and went and found him. He asked him, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36  The man said, “Point him out to me, sir, so that I can believe in him.” 37  Jesus said, “You’re looking right at him. Don’t you recognize my voice?” 38  “Master, I believe,” the man said, and worshiped him.
John 9:30-38 (MSG)


Hear, and specifically hear God when He calls to you, when He invites you to be part of His life, with the understanding that it means that He gets to be part of yours. No, not just part – but He becomes your life – and the focus of it.   But like those people – we need to heard when Jesus tells us He is our Lord, and our life  And we need to believe, we need to trust Him,

Which brings us to the second word….

Know… He’s the one to Know


The first was “hear,” the second is “know”.

Some people have said it isn’t what you know, but who.  In this case it is neither, it is Who knows you.

Hear, Know, Follow.

It is this middle one, this know, that is the key.  We have to learn, to experience that Jesus knows us.  We have to hear His voice – calling us to let Him cleanse us, even as He cleansed Chloe this morning of all sin.

The cross wasn’t just an event in history, it is the call of Christ, like the bugler calling reveille, and like the last trump will be, when He calls us all to come home.

The summons to gather is also because He knows us, He calls us, not to be perfect, not to get our acts straight and be holy and clean all the mud and sin off of our lives. He calls each one of us, knowing the work to be done, to make us clean and pure and holy. That is why He calls us to the cross, the place of cleansing, the place where He invites us, knowing exactly who we are, what we’ve done, good and sinful..

He knows us, and He still chooses to be our Shepherd, to call us to His side…

Follow – you really have little choice!

Hear, Know, Follow……

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

It is evident in the first two words, that we are passive – we are the recipients of incredible blessings.  In order for us to hear – He has had give voice to His love, to call us to be His.  We could do nothing.  Neither could we do anything for Him to come to know us, to do the work to cleanse us, to take care of us, to wrap us in His mercy and love. We are passive in both, recipients, not the gives and one who act,

I am not sure we get the same idea about the word follow.  It sounds like a choice, an action that we have to be continually in, focusing upon it as if our eternal destinies depend on it.

We hear follow – and we think of people on the trail – with Jesus setting the pace, with His deciding which path to take, when there is a branch.  That He is some kind of spiritual trailblazer, giving us the narrow road to follow.

Yet there is another way to hear “follow”, one that seems more akin to the word in Greek.  It is the word as it is used in dancing, where the lady is to “follow” the movement of the gentleman, where the moves are synchronized and yet so fluid, where the man’s gentle guidance turns and leads the woman, as combined He leads her in such a way, that following is not only natural, but incredibly beautiful.  So it is when we hear Christ’s call, and when we realize He does really know us, and invites us to follow Him.

We then find ourselves moving, “following” His lead, feeling His guidance, knowing His presence, for it closer even than any couple has ever danced.

He has made us His own, marked and sealed us in Baptism – united us to Him in such a way that nothing could ever snatch us from Him, that nothing could ever separate us from His love.  For He has joined us to Himself in Baptism, He has untied us to Himself, and therefore following Him becomes truly, how we live.  We simply hear, and respond, all the time focused on our Shepherd…

Hear…. Know… Follow…

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

 Where, in His company, they live in an incredible peace, for He calls and keeps their hearts and minds in that peace, the peace of the Father that goes beyond any explanation.  Even as Chloe has now entered that relationship – may we all remember and hear, and realize we are known, and follow our shepherd’s lead.  AMEN?

(the original intro was…)

When one is trained to preach, there are some simple communication tools given to a pastor.  Some of them, like the KISS principle, we “borrow” from other places where people are trained or taught.  For example – the KISS principle comes from the military and is an acronym for “Keep it Simple… “.

There are other tools – like using repetition and sequence.  That is what we’ve been doing for the past several weeks.  Let’s see if you remember them.  The first is, “The Tomb is….”, therefore we Praise God for He is Risen! (pause) which brings us to the truth that “The Lord is….” And the last one- anyone remember… If the Son sets you ….


Today I am going to go with the KISS principle, for a number of reasons.  Three simple words that I want you to remember, that if you do, will open up your memory and help you recall the gospel reading, and more importantly, the way it reveals Jesus and His love and care for each of us, from young Chloe to Oliver.

If you can do that, I will give all of the praise to God – for it is His heart, His love, that is revealed.

So the three words from our gospel reading to remember today are….


Hear!  Know! Follow!

We find those three verbs describing Jesus’ people in verse 27. )