Have you ever watched kids play that swimming pool game “Marco Polo” where one has to close their eyes and try to catch the others just by their sense of hearing? On our youth trip last week, I was reminded how frustrating that game can be, especially when the person who is “it” doesn’t peek. I can only imagine the frustration of truly being blind. The few minutes in the game is plenty frustration and reaching out into the darkness for me.
But just try to imagine that. Paul tells us in our text that that’s what we were: “You were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” You see, we’ve been given our sight. If you’ve been blind and were given the gift of sight again, I’m sure you’d never want to be blind again. So Paul shouldn’t have to say what he does next. He tells us to live as children of light and have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, not even talking about them.
That’s a no-brainer, right? Well, if it is, how do you explain why the news media thinks you’re interested in Brittney’s latest trip to rehab or who is the father of some superstar’s baby? If it really is a no-brainer, why do the paparazzi get paid so much money for their pictures and stars demand so much cash for their “revealing” interviews? Why? Because you pay for them; because by our TV and movie and conversation choices, we beg to hear and see more about the sin other sinners are committing. We love the juicy details. We want to see more, hear more, constantly push the envelope. You know, if we Christians were doing what Paul tells us here — the paparazzi would be out of a job. But the darkness is so intriguing. And the sad thing is, it gets our eyes used to the dark.
On the last day of our youth trip, most of the kids stayed up all night until our 4:30 am wake-up time. Then when we got in the vans, it was pretty quiet, until we had to flip on the lights to find our map. You would’ve thought we had thrown acid on the kids the way they reacted to that light — but I can understand it. Their eyes had become accustomed to the dark, so the light was painful.
That truth is just as true spiritually. Our society has become comfortable with sin, because we’ve seen it so much. What would our great-grandparents say if they saw what was on regular TV these days?
So what’s the solution? What’s the cure to the disease of letting your spiritual eyes get used to the darkness? Well, same thing as for our physical eyes — light. Paul says, “This is why it is said: ‘Wake up, O sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’” Get your eyes used to the light instead. Sometimes that takes an initial shock, but as your eyes adjust to what you are seeing, you’ll never want to look at darkness again.
You see, looking to the light, you’ll see Christ. You’ll see the one who destroyed the darkness of sin, death, and hell with his suffering and death on the cross. He shone the bright light of victory in his resurrection from the dead and his ascension into heaven. And he changes our lives when we realize just how bright that light is.
He has made us children of light. Why would we ever want to give up that beautiful position? Why would we ever choose blindness over sight, the darkness over light? We wouldn’t. We won’t — as long as we keep our eyes adjusted to the light by constantly and consistently looking to the light of Christ shining brightly in his Word, being shared by your brothers and sisters in Christ. And by the way, those brothers and sisters in Christ are looking forward to joining their lights with yours so that together we can shine Christ’s love that much brighter right here in Newton County. Pastor Jonathan E. Scharf
Abiding Grace Lutheran Church
“The Good Shepherd”
In these weeks leading up to Good Friday and Easter, it will do us all well to take a fresh look at who Jesus really is.
Throughout Scripture, God calls himself “I am.” Jesus uses the expression “I am” seven times in the gospel of John to give us insight as to who he is.
He said: “I am the vine, you are the branches.” He also said: “I am the light of the world” and “I am the bread of life”.
Jesus also said: “I am the gate” and “I am the Good Shepherd.” Most of us have problems relating to sheep and shepherds since they are not a part of our culture or relevant to our daily lives in 2008. But they were a major part of the life and times of Jesus, so he often spoke of them.
In fact, the night of Christ’s birth there were shepherds in the fields, keeping watch over their flocks by night.
In John chapter 10, Jesus gives us several important truths relating to sheep:
People are like sheep. He refers to people as sheep, as do many writers in Scripture.
He does so because of the similarities that exist between sheep and people. They are weak, helpless and defenseless creatures. They have no sense of direction and are prone to wander and are easily lost. Once lost, they cannot find their way back to the sheep fold. The prophet Isaiah said: “we all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way.”
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He compares and contrasts false shepherds and all those who came before him as being thieves, robbers, strangers and hirelings. These were religious leaders who scattered the flock and exploited the people for their own selfish purposes. In contrast, Jesus is the Good Shepherd, who has the best interest of the sheep at heart.
He is also the gate or door into the sheep fold. There is no other way into safety and protection except coming through Jesus Christ alone. Others try to get in some other way.
As the Good Shepherd, he also leads and provides for his sheep, leading them in paths of plenty and pasture. He also knows his sheep personally and by name, and they know and recognize his voice and will not follow a stranger’s voice.
Jesus lays down his life for his sheep. Quite unlike the false shepherds and hirelings,
Jesus has the deepest affection for his sheep, to the extent that he is willing to give his life for them.
Jesus is the owner of the flock. In John chapter 10, Jesus often refers to the sheep and flock by the use of personal pronouns such as me, my, and mine. We belong to him.
There is only one flock and fold. In a day of many world religions and many denominations within Christianity, Jesus makes it abundantly clear that there is only one true flock, and it is his, and there is only one path to safety, and that is through him. He is the great Shepherd of the sheep.
Is he your Shepherd? Are you following him? Or are you a lost sheep needing to come back into the fold? Let Jesus be the Shepherd of your life. Come to him; trust him; and allow him to lead you in the right paths. The Rev. Wayne Rutherford LifePointe Church
of the Nazarene