May God’s grace make your life abundant! Jesus came to us so that we may have life. Now the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, is with us. May the Holy Spirit, who is our life, overflow within us!
In John 10, God promises that Jesus will give us a good life. The word of God makes us enliven. Every day God’s grace makes life more abundant in us. Jesus compares himself to a shepherd. It means that he is our true leader and the true provider. We are his sheep, and Jesus wants us to live happy and healthy lives. He guides us on the right path so that we can find peace and happiness. Where does happiness come from? Yes, it comes from God. Jesus provides a good life for us.
What is a good life? What kinds of lives does Jesus want to give us? Let’s look at the context of John 10 to understand its meaning. In John 9, on the way out of the temple in Jerusalem, Jesus sees a blind man and takes pity on him so that Jesus heals him. An amazing thing happens that the blind man could see again. However, religious leaders don’t like it. They find ridiculous excuses to criticize Jesus. And furthermore, the leaders excommunicate the blind man from Judaism. The absurd reason is the fact that Jesus healed the sick on the Sabbath.
In John 10, among the people, Jesus condemns the religious leaders who have expelled the blind man for this ridiculous reason. Jesus declares that the leaders are ruthless, and they don’t care how precious a person’s life is. Jesus, of course, is different from them. So, he introduces people to himself as a true leader. Jesus has warm words of love and truth, and he makes the space where people are gathered with him into a church. He gives people hope and instills a sense of belonging by welcoming everyone and especially the marginalized. We can learn the meaning of a good life through this story and also learn a lesson. If you look at the history of our church, we Christians have condemned people and driven them out of the church community for really absurd reasons. We took away the hope of the weak in the church and in society. Reasons were nonsensical excuses such as being a woman, gay, lesbian, a different race than ours, or having a different skin color than us. Surprisingly, we liked to embellish the reason for driving them out as if it were to keep the gospel pure. But the truth was different. We just didn’t want to give up our privileges. But now we have been trying to get out of that wrong path. Because we know that the privileged life is not rich, but this attitude will lead to the death of others and also lead us to self-destruction.
This gives us a very clear picture of the meaning of the abundant life that Jesus wants to give us. He wants us to offer a sense of belonging to everyone through our community. Our church wants to include all other nations, genders, and those who have different skin colors in the love of God. Jesus gave us the ability to live such a good life. That power will be revealed by the Word of God and the Holy Spirit. When we listen to the Word and establish our will to live such a good life in our hearts, God’s Spirit helps us with infinite energy. As my smartphone needs to be recharged, our emotions will also need daily energy. God’s spirit is our energy and nutrition for our hearts. We can find an example of that power (or force) in the context of today’s text.
Let’s look at John 11. That’s where we can find the example of the power from the story there. Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. And the power reunited them; Lazarus and his sisters. Let me remind you of the story of Lazarus and his two sisters. Lazarus falls ill. His sisters believe that if Jesus has been by their side, Jesus could heal him. So, they quickly ask Jesus to come to their house, but Jesus is late. They lose the golden time. So, Lazarus dies. The two sisters mourn the loss of their brother and fall into deep despair. Everything is over for those two sisters. At least they believe so. But Jesus reminds them of their faith. Jesus instills hope in them. Then Jesus brings the dead Lazarus back to life. It is surely a miracle that Jesus brings him from death to life. But wouldn’t a greater miracle be that everyone gets hope in Jesus? For us who have the power of Jesus, even death cannot separate us who are united in love.
Death is an extraordinary example, but the power of resurrection reminds us of the marvelous potential within us. This power unites our community of faith, welcoming and embracing all. We are unafraid of sacrificing our privileges to care for others, and we eagerly engage with individuals from diverse racial and cultural backgrounds. We are not afraid because we are not alone. Even death cannot separate us from God’s boundless love and grace. Jesus invites us to be part of this captivating community—a rich and harmonious fellowship that grants us abundant joy and peace. God’s transformative work is at play within us through the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, guiding us towards inclusivity in all our relationships. Let us practice inclusivity in our diverse connections.
An abundant and harmonious life flows from Christ. It is not by our own strength but through His grace. Emphasizing God’s grace is truly worthwhile; it is never a waste of time.
God’s grace saves everyone. For example, a friend of mine was abandoned by his mother when he was a baby. At that time, he was only one year old, but he remembered all of his mother’s despair, dark expression, and irritable tone, and it left a lifelong trauma. The hurt of being abandoned and unloved by his own mother eventually led him to the point of suicide, and he attempted suicide several times, but he repeatedly failed. It was the ineffable and mysterious power of God that prevented his death several times. God not only physically prevented his death, but also healed his wounds. From time to time, whenever his sore wounds were exposed, God covered him with love and grace a thousandfold. He mysteriously experienced God and met Him. But also, my friend has healed his wounds through new and healthy relationships God provides for him. God still heals his wounds.
Now I’m going to wrap up my sermon. God is love and the source of life. His grace is boundless. His mercy is so precious, more than anything, incomparable. The unwavering God’s love is within us. You are never alone. Each and every one of you is more precious than the entire universe. I hope that the message of the love from Christ has been delivered to you well today through the Holy Spirit. The love of Christ and His infinite power will make you a more perfect and lovable person before God. May Jesus’ life prosper your faith and life!
10th Sunday after Pentecost, August 6th, John 10:10-11
Pastor John Kim, Lakeridge Lutheran Church