From the Word 

“I AM I AM the resurrection and the life.  Whoever believes in Me, though He die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die.”  John 11:25-26 

    We live in a time where theory is held in high esteem.  Darwin’s theory of evolution (as it has come to evolve) is passed off as scientific truth without having passed any of the tests that establish scientific truth.  Theory is passed off as truth in the areas of economics, psychology, sociology, and nearly all other social sciences. 
    In the context of such theoretical teaching, it shouldn’t surprise us that there are so called Christian theologians who maintain that it is not necessary that we believe in actual resurrection, as long as our hearts and spirits are raised.  In such Christian settings worship becomes a pep rally to make us feel good, void of substance and any real comfort.  Hope is replaced by positive thinking and self-esteem.  Feeling good about ourselves is considered on par with the confidence of eternal life in heaven.
    WHAT UTTER NONSENSE!!!  The sisters of Lazarus, Martha and Mary, were not experiencing theoretical grief.  Their brother actually died and they were experiencing real grief because they missed the one they dearly loved.  Jesus answer in this text was not to raise their spirits, but to raise their brother.  In so doing He demonstrates His power over death, which He magnifies in His own resurrection.
    We don’t live in theory, we live in reality.  That reality includes the imperfections caused by sin in the world.  Those problems are not theoretical, they are real.  The guilt and shame are real.  The strained relationships are real.  Sickness is real.  Death is real.
    Through “the Resurrection and the Life,” forgiveness is real.  That forgiveness removes what separates us from God, and we use it to be reunited in our personal relationships.  God’s grace is greater than our problems, our guilt, and our shame.  Through the resurrection of Jesus, we are assured of eternal life, body and soul, in the heaven prepared for us by Jesus.  Our worship is an interaction with the present, risen Savior.  Our readings and hymns point us to the reality of Jesus, crucified and risen.  Hope is confidence in the promises of God that assure us as we walk by faith on this earth, and is the confidence of eternity with God in heaven.  THAT’S NO THEORY!!!

 

From the Word 

“I AM I AM the Good Shepherd.  The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” 
John 10:11 

    Jesus identifies Himself as Yahweh in Psalm 23.  He calls us to see Him as the Shepherd of Old Testament fame.  He is Yahweh, the Lord, who called Moses from the burning bush.  He came to earth to be our deliverer from sin.  His name (Yeshua/Jesus) means “Yahweh saves.”  He uses I AM I AM in this text to identify Himself as the Shepherd of Psalm 23.
   I AM I AM is my Shepherd, I shall not be in need.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul.
    God provides for all our needs, body and soul.  The greatest provision is His coming in the person of our Good Shepherd, Jesus, to redeem us body and soul, bringing us to God, and assuring us of eternal life in heaven.  He did this by His death for us and His resurrection.
   He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.  Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.  Your rod and Your staff they comfort me.  You prepare a table for me in the presence of my enemies. 
    Jesus entered the valley of the shadow of death to shepherd us through by dying and rising again.  He has conquered our enemies, sin, death, and Satan.  The Good Shepherd’s death and resurrection has conquered once and for all time.
   You anoint my head with oil.  My cup overflows.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
    Jesus said, “I am with you all the days, even to the end of the age.”  Where He is, so also are His goodness and mercy.  They have followed us all our days in this life, and will continue until this life ends.  As He has dwelt with us, so we will dwell with Him in heaven forever.  All this because the Good Shepherd (I AM I AM) laid down His life for the sheep.  As you walk by faith in this life toward heaven, know you are in the arms of I AM I AM, the Good Shepherd.

From the Word 

“I AM I AM the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and go in and out and find pasture.”  John 10:9 

    How do you get into St. Paul’s Lutheran Church?  The ordinary answer is by opening the red door just off the large sidewalk that goes up to the building.  Since St. Paul’s is the Church in this place, the best answer is by the gate to the kingdom, Jesus Christ.
    In the context of the verse quoted above, we see thieves who try to get in by another way.  So much of the world sees eternal life, heaven, end of life reward as a destination that has many paths leading to it.  So many people think that all religions lead to the same thing, just by different means.  They see many different doors with the same prize behind them all.  Most, if not all of these systems of thought, see their works as the means by which they achieve getting through the door to heaven.
    But Jesus calls such beliefs “thieves.”  There is no entrance into the kingdom of God by any other way than Jesus.  The problem is sin.  Sin is a stain that cannot be removed by trying to overcome it, simply doing more good things than bad.  Jesus alone offers atonement for sin.  He alone came to take our sins, because He alone could do that.  We sinners cannot bear our own sins, let alone the sins of others.  Jesus, the sinless Son of God, has taken our sins away.  He is the only way into the kingdom.
    By faith, we are members of His kingdom, the Church.  According to the text, we go in and out and find pasture.  We know the safety and security of the Church.  We feed on the bread of Life through the Word and the Sacraments present in our worship.  We drink the living water as we focus on His Word, then share it.  We live in a world where the wolves threaten, but we live with the sufficient grace of God to meet the challenges here.  We seek to bring others into the fold as we tell them about the door, Jesus our Savior.
    Jesus is the door to our congregation, to the Church on earth, and the Church in heaven.  He came to open the way by His death and resurrection and has gone to the Father to ensure our entrance by grace through faith.  Every time you see a door, remember Jesus, the door to hope, joy, peace, love, grace, and glory.

 

From the Word 

“Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM I AM.” John 8:58 

    The words quoted above are the culmination of a fascinating conversation between Jesus and the leaders of the Jews.  They discuss true faith in God, and the substance of that faith.  They relied on the fact that Abraham was their father, and that their covenant relationship with God was their obedience to the covenant God made with Abraham.  Jesus was pointing them to the God of Abraham who was standing before them as the fulfilment of the covenant God made with Abraham.
    They condemned Jesus as demonic for contradicting what they thought was true belief in God.  Jesus calls them children of the devil for forsaking true belief in God.  Such conversations go on today, as the religious of the world advance their teachings as the truth, and contradictory religious views as false.  We Christians make our case alongside the rest.  What is the truth?
    When you boil down the teachings of all other religions in the world, you are left with a religion of Law that expects followers to produce their own righteousness by obedience.  There are variations on the theme, but that is the basic premise of Satan’s teaching, since he is the author of all false religion.
    Jesus tells them in our text the truth of God; that He rescued sinners by coming to earth to save them.  This is the faith of Abraham.   Jesus says that Abraham longed to see His day and saw it.  Abraham clearly longed to see the salvation in which he trusted come to pass.  But in what sense did he see it?  He saw it foreshadowed in the event on Mt. Moriah, when God called him to sacrifice his son Isaac, then provided a ram as substitute.  In that event Abraham foresaw what God would do when the Lamb of God took the sins of the world to the cross in our place.
    We try to contemplate eternity after we die, since God has promised it is our future.  But Jesus points us to the eternity before creation when He says that before Abraham was, “I AM I AM.”  He is Yahweh, who has always been and always will be.  The timeless God of all came in time, subjected himself to time, and made His time the “fullness of time” (see Galatians 4:4-7) to save us.  To contemplate him as eternal, sovereign God of heaven and the universe is difficult, if not impossible.  To contemplate Him as Savior who came, suffered, died, and rose to fulfill God’s promise of eternal salvation is not difficult at all.  I AM I AM, the God of Abraham, is our deliverer.  He died!  He rose!  He lives!  Hallelujah!

 

From the Word

 “I Am I Am the Light of the world.  Whoever follows Me will not walk in darkness, but have the light of life.”  John 8:12 

    Fear. Confusion. Loneliness. Anxiety.  These are a few of the things we experience in the dark.  These are also things we experience because of sin.  Sin and darkness are linked throughout Scripture.  While darkness with some light can be peaceful, darkness with no light is terrifying.  The darkness of sin casts its shadow over the world in which we live.  We see the darkness of sin lived out in the faces and the actions of those around us.  We also participate in that we sin daily.
    God, whose first creation was light (see Genesis 1), came as light into the world (see John 1:1-18).  He said, “I Am I Am the Light of the world.”  He came to shine the light of God’s grace into the darkness of sin.  He brought about the darkest moment of human history when He bore the sins of the world, that we might be light in Him.
    Now, by faith, we see, because the Light has lit up our lives.  We see this sinful world for what it is.  We see the pitfalls of sin, lit up by God’s Word.  We see the futility of self-righteousness.  Mostly we see the grace of God in the Light, Jesus.  The Light warms us against the cold of sin.  He lights our path through life, as well as our destination.  He shows us love, defining it by His sacrifice for us.  He brings us joy, seeing His blessings and rejoicing in them with a joy that will have no end.  He gives us peace, dispelling the darkness and assuring us of sufficient grace as we walk the path in this world to eternity in heaven.
    When temptation darkens our path, we have the light of Jesus.  When evil intrudes, we have the light of Jesus.  When disaster threatens, we have the light of Jesus.  When death casts its shadow, we have the light of Jesus.
    People constantly wonder why we Christians are the way we are.  Why are we so accepting of the circumstances of life?  Why are we so unafraid of the evil around us?  Why do we celebrate a death?  We’ve seen the Light.  We walk in the Light.  We are light in the Lord.