The Fourth Sunday after Easter.
The C ollect.
O ALMIGHTY God, who alone canst order the unruly wills and affections of sinful men; Grant unto thy people, that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be!
fixed, where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
John 8:12-30 (KJV)
12 Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life. 13 The Pharisees therefore said unto him, Thou bearest record of thyself; thy record is not true. 14 Jesus answered and said unto them, Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go; but ye cannot tell whence I come, and whither I go. 15 Ye judge after the flesh; I judge no man. 16 And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me. 17 It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true. 18 I am one that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me. 19 Then said they unto him, Where is thy Father? Jesus answered, Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also. 20 These words spake Jesus in the treasury, as he taught in the temple: and no man laid hands on him; for his hour was not yet come. 21 Then said Jesus again unto them, I go my way, and ye shall seek me, and shall die in your sins: whither I go, ye cannot come. 22 Then said the Jews, Will he kill himself? because he saith, Whither I go, ye cannot come. 23 And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. 25 Then said they unto him, Who art thou? And Jesus saith unto them, Even the same that I said unto you from the beginning. 26 I have many things to say and to judge of you: but he that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of him. 27 They understood not that he spake to them of the Father.
28 Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself; but as my Father hath taught me, I speak these things. 29 And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone; for I do always those things that please him. 30 As he spake these words, many believed on him.
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” (John 8:12) In todays text alone, our Lord refers to himself as the “I AM” in no less than seven times. In fact, the Book of John might be referred to as the Book od “I AM”
Our Lord is a continuous presents from Eternity Past to eternity future. He is not a sometimes Lord. He will never leave us nor forsake us – the Great I AM. (not the I WAS, or the I SHALL BE, but I AM – a constant Presence) “ I AM the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me, shall never die.” (John 11:25-26)
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6 (KJV)
“I am the bread of life.” (John 6:35)
“I am the bread which came down from heaven.” (John 6:41)
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:7-10)
In Hebrews 13:5, He has said: I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (13:5)
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” (John 10:14)
23rd PSALM: 1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. 3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. 5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Let us examine together this powerful Psalm beginning at the first verse:
1 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want Let there be no doubt about that lovely Person who is the sushpehrdbject of this Psalm – it is the Good Shepherd of John 10. “The LORD is my Shepherd.” Just like the “I Am”, “IS my Shepherd” signifies an eternal continuity.If the LORD is our Shepherd, we shall lack nothing of our needs.In Philippians 4:19, we read – But my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Jesus Christ (our Shepherd).Our wants will become the congruent with the Will and desire of the LORD if we love Him. The LORD is the subject of the Psalm and we are the Object or beneficiaries of it.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. It is true that often we do not know what is best for us and the LORD takes our hand and leads us, like a little child, to the place of comfort and safety. The pastures of the Lord are not of weeds and briers, but bright and green. Healthful to our souls and bodies. His pure Word of Life lies verdant before us. The STILL WATERS by which He leads us are not tumultuous and troubled, but calm and smooth. Deep Water is always calm water. The nostrils of a lamb are very close to its mouth. If the water is disturbed, the lamb has difficulty drinking from it without choking on the water that enters its nostrils. So the Good Shepherd takes us to waters that are convenient for our use.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.When we have been too long on the deserts of life, the Lord comes to us as a refreshing Fountain of Pure Waters. We drink from His Wells and are restored. He makes us alive anew. He always prompts us, through His Holy Spirit, to walk in good paths. We are sons and daughters of God the great King. If, as princes and princesses, our behavior is shameful, we dishonor our Father the King. Because we love our Good Shepherd, we are dedicated to living a life that will not bring shame to His Name.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Is a shadow real? It is not. It is only formed by the light that has been blocked by our bodies. Death casts a shadow before us. It is ever near to us. But it is not real to the Christian, but only a shadow. We live in a Wilderness of Sin in this world. It is full of death and suffering, but such specters of death as we imagine are not real to us. We shall not die if we have hope in Christ – we shall only be changed at the moment of mortal death. “I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die (John 11:25-26)
Christ is always nearby His Sheep. I will fear no evil: for thou art with methy rod and thy staff they comfort me. The Shepherd’s staff is like a candy cane – straight on one end and hooked on the other. The straight end is sharp as used as a prod when we go out of the way of safety which the Shepherd has set for us. So He uses the sharp end to chastise us in life. The other hooked end is used to rescue us from rocks and crevices when we have separated ourselves from the Good Shepherd and His Flock.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. The Lord often saves our best wine for last just as He did at the Wedding at Cana of Galilee. Beethoven’s most notable achievement was his last – the ninth symphony, 5th movement. So has He saved the best wine in MY OWN life for the Autumn days and coming Winter of my Soul. He has filled our tables with good things, and He has made our enemies jealous with His graciousness toward us.He anoints us with the Oil of His Holy Ghost and prepares the way for our service to Him.The true blessings in the life of a Christian are like a cup filled to overflowing with the Wine of Love, Mercy, and Grace.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever That Mercy and Grace of God shall be constantly with us all the days of our lives – even that last moment of this mortal life.
THE LAST WORDS OF JESUS SPOKEN ON TERRA FIRMA: “Matthew 28:18-20 (KJV)
18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. 19 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
20 Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.