Kruiz edited
He Is the Way
Holy Tuesday
27 March 2018
Against my own nature, I try to follow maps. Of course, as a man I know exactly where I am going. Why should I follow a map? While I was on a road trip with several other men following instructions from Google Maps, more than once my traveling companions and I hurled insults and reproof at the machine telling us where to turn. No deviations from the calculated path were permitted by the monotone voice: "Make a U-turn in 300 yards." We are traveling through daily life with our Lord Jesus, the good Shepherd. But His voice is not a monotone machine-like set of instructions to His wayfaring people. Even if we are not sure where He is taking us, He still leads the way through trouble and trial, so that we shall not be in want (Ps 23:1). We are the sheep of His pasture (Ps 100:3). Maybe we will never know where we are going, but we do know that the good Shepherd leads us and has gone before us through everything that is yet to come. Following the good Shepherd means that we must know Him as the crucified and living Lord (Heb 2:9). Christianity does not come as a set of monotone instructions that we follow to a successful life. It is not a road map to earthly triumph, but the way to eternal life following the voice of the good Shepherd, who is Himself the way (Jn 14:6).
He is the way. He does not merely send us a spiritual global positioning system in the Bible. He Himself leaps into our pastures through the Word to rescue, guide, forgive, and give assurance to those who are suffering for His sake. Every school child is familiar with the story of Sir Walter Raleigh's gallantry, who, when Queen Elizabeth I was confronted by a mud puddle, dashingly undid his cape and laid it in the mud to provide her with a pristine passage through the mire, saving her gown from being fouled. Jesus has done something even greater for the world to give us proper passage through this world's gulfs of filth that confront us on our way. He has not just laid down his cloak, but Himself that we might pass across the chasms of trouble upon the Shepherd's body, sheep absolved clean and unfouled by the world's evil. Jesus does not just give us something to rescue us, but gives us Himself.
If that is so, why should we worry where we are going, how much mud there will be ahead, how deep the fissures of trouble, how treacherous the crevasses of trial? We have a good Shepherd who leads on bridging every difficulty. Our problem is that we can see only the dangers. We walk by sight and not by faith. Faithful walking is always by ear not by sight for the sheep. In the gorse and scrub lands through which we are taken by the Shepherd, we sheep see none of the larger picture. Often, we see only the sheep ahead and a tuft of grass here or there. Could we possibly have the perspective that sees what the Shepherd sees? No, of course not. We must listen for His voice. He calls us by name. Shut your eyes and follow. His voice gives us all we need not to see where we are going. That's okay as long as He is the Way.

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"'How shall I know that the Lord is my Shepherd? I have not experienced that He is as friendly toward me as Psalm 23 says. In fact, I have experienced the opposite. David was a holy prophet and a man dear and precious to God; so it was easy for him to speak of the matter and to believe what he spoke. But I cannot emulate him, for I am a poor sinner.' Answer: in itself a sheep has chiefly this good attribute and fine virtue, that it knows the voice of its shepherd well and is guided more by its ears than its eyes. The same virtue Christ also praises in His sheep, when He says (Jn 10:4): 'My sheep know My voice.' His voice, however, speaks thus: 'I am the Good Shepherd ... and lay down My life for My sheep.... And I give them eternal life. And they shall never perish, and no man shall snatch them out of My hand' (Jn 10:14, 15, 28). Give careful attention to this voice and be guided by it. If you do, then firmly believe that you are Christ's sheep and that He is your Shepherd, who knows you well and is also able to call you by your name. But when you have Him as your Shepherd, you will surely not want. Yes, you already have what you shall have-eternal life. Nor will you ever perish. Nor shall any power be so great and mighty that it could snatch you out of His hand. Of that you can be sure. For this Shepherd's voice will surely not lead you astray. What more could you want?
"But if you ignore this voice and are guided by what your eyes see and your old Adam feels, then you will lose the faith and trust that you ought, as a sheep, to have in Him as your Shepherd. Sometimes this thought, sometimes that one comes to you, so that you cannot be content but must argue with yourself and say: 'If the Lord is my Shepherd, why does He impose this upon me, that the world torments and persecutes me so cruelly through no fault of mine? I am sitting in the midst of the wolves. I am not sure of my life for a moment; but I do not see any shepherd who would protect me.' Again: 'Why does He permit the devil to harm me so greatly with terror and doubts? Besides, I find myself quite unfit, weak, impatient, still laden with many sins. I feel no security but only doubt, no comfort but only fear and trembling because of God's wrath. When will He ever begin to manifest in me that He is my Shepherd?'
"Such strange thoughts and many others will come to you if you fail to heed His voice and Word. But if you hold fast to them, you will be tempted neither by the devil's wiles, the world's disfavor and raging, nor by your own weakness and unworthiness. You will go straight forward to speak freely: 'Let the devil, the world, or my own conscience oppose me as violently as they may. I will not for that reason grieve myself to death. It must be so and it shall be so, that whoever is the Lord's sheep will surely be assailed by the wolves. Be it with me as it may, let them boil or roast me, it shall be my comfort that my Shepherd has given His life for me. Moreover, He has a sweet, kind voice, with which He comforts me and says that I shall never perish, neither shall anyone snatch me out of His hand; I shall have eternal life (Jn 10:28). And He will keep this promise, no matter what happens to me. If because of my weakness some sin or other fault by chance is still found in me, He will not reject me on that account. For He is a friendly Shepherd, who watches over the weak sheep, binds up their wounds, and heals them. So that I may be all the more sure and not doubt, He has given me, as a token, His holy Sacraments.'" 

 Martin Luther, Psalm 23, 23.1
Psalm 71:1-14

In you, O LORD, do I take refuge; let me never be put to shame! In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me! Be to me a rock of refuge, to which I may continually come; you have given the command to save me, for you are my rock and my fortress.
Rescue me, O my God, from the hand of the wicked, from the grasp of the unjust and cruel man. For you, O Lord, are my hope, my trust, O LORD, from my youth. Upon you I have leaned from before my birth; you are he who took me from my mother's womb. My praise is continually of you.
I have been as a portent to many, but you are my strong refuge. My mouth is filled with your praise, and with your glory all the day. Do not cast me off in the time of old age; forsake me not when my strength is spent. For my enemies speak concerning me; those who watch for my life consult together and say, "God has forsaken him; pursue and seize him, for there is none to deliver him."
O God, be not far from me; O my God, make haste to help me! May my accusers be put to shame and consumed; with scorn and disgrace may they be covered who seek my hurt. But I will hope continually and will praise you yet more and more.
Almighty and everlasting God, grant us by Your grace so to pass through this holy time of our Lord's passion that we may obtain the forgiveness of our sins; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
For all those who suffer from recurring fears of abandonment, that they might hear the voice of the good Shepherd
For Robert Bennett of Luther Academy, that he might be upheld in every need and that confessional Lutheranism might continue to grow in the world
For all Christians as they follow the Shepherd's voice to Golgotha, that they might be strengthened through the grace of Christ
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias  Isenheim Altarpiece (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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