The Fear Monster – Monster Be Gone; Video Sermon For 4/28/2013

This is the sermon for April 28, 2013, preached at Patterson Avenue Baptist Church – this sermon is based on John 10:22-30 and John 13:31-35.

The text of the sermon follows the video.

John 10:22-30; John 13:31-35

I once had a moment of “parenting brilliance.”

It happened when Michelle was about six years old. One of her best friends, Abigail, was at our house for a sleep-over. The two girls were having a wonderful time together, till it was time to actually go to sleep. They had been telling themselves “monster stories” – and evidently the imaginary monsters of their conversations had became more real when it was time to keep quiet, close your eyes, and go to sleep.

“Daddy, there is a monster under the bed!”

“No there isn’t. Go to bed, be quiet, and go to sleep!” Not the most comforting words, I know…but I was tired.

“Mr. Nieporte, I think there is a monster in the closet!” No there isn’t, Abby, I already checked. There is no monster in Michelle’s closet.

Right behind Abby, without missing a beat, was Michelle. “Well of course you can’t see the monster, Daddy, it’s invisible!”

“Okay, girls, I will be right there!”

This is where the parenting brilliance kicked in. I went to the kitchen and grabbed a can of Lysol from under the sink. I went to my computer and printed a label that said, “Monster-Be-Gone” and covered the word “Lysol.” Then I went into Michelle’s room.
“Ladies, this is a can of ‘Monster-Be-Gone.’ It producing a smell of cleanliness and freshness. Everyone knows that monsters sometimes hang out under kids beds and in their closets, which is why parent keep telling their children to clean up their room.”

“I know it works, because it was developed by NASA scientist. It is guaranteed to scares away the monsters in no time at all.”

With these simple words (commonly call a BOLD FACE LIE) I sprayed almost the entire can under the bed, in the closet, and in very dark corner in the room.

A few minutes later, the girls were sound asleep. It might have been that they were finally at peace and their fears were relieved. Or it could have been that they passed out from the Lysol fumes. In any event, I take it as one of the few achievements and victories I’ve experienced as a parent.

I imagine there are times when we all feel like we could use a can of “Monster-Be-Gone.” Let’s face it, we all life with the reality of fear in our lives. We all have to deal with the reality of monster creeping around the dark corners of our lives, prowling through the recesses of our thoughts, and hanging out in our bedrooms late at night when we are desparate to get some sleep.

Most of the time these fear-monsters are figment of our imagination. They are like the invisible creatures that lived under my daughter’s bed or in her closet. But just because they are imaginary does not make us feel any less afraid.

Sometimes the fears are all about what might happen.

What if I lose my job? How will I keep my child through college?

What if that pain in my side is cancer?

You we are pretty good at panicking over what might happen next week, next month, or next year.

On other occasions, all that fear is the result of a clear and present danger. We’ve already received the pink slip from work. The doctor has already offered his diagnosis. Still, we have a tendency to take bad news and turn it into a bigger and badder monster than it might otherwise have been and at the end of the day our fears end up ruling our lives.

The two passages of scripture that have been read this morning are both from the Gospel of John. John’s gospel was written to a segment of the early church who were, themselves, dealing with danger, difficulty, and fear. They were confronting the monsters of hardship and persecution.

Of, sure, they dealt with the customary distresses of life. They dealt with the same distresses we all deal with. They wondered and worried, a we often do:

What is going to happen to me tomorrow?
Will I make it through this crisis?
How will I make it is I lose my job?
What’s going to happen to me when I die?

They also faced tougher questions…things most of us never have and hopefully never will have to deal with.

Will we be arrested because of our faith declaration?
Will we be whipped to death or forced to face the gladiators?
Will we be fed to the lions?

So, as we consider the two passages read moments ago, let’s explore how John’s Gospel reaches out to deal with the fear and insecurities of his community by relating to them a couple of stories about Jesus.

John 10 contains a teaching commonly referred to as the parable of the Good Shepherd. It is here where Jesus identifies himself as “the Good Shepherd.”

What does that adjective “good” mean in reference to Jesus in this context?

It means that Jesus is trustworthy. He is dependable, reliable, steadfast, and unwavering in his care for his sheep. He is not a simple hireling – a contract worker, a day laborer, an hourly employee. Jesus is not there to simply do the basic work of menial labor. He’s not just in it for the pay-check. Being “shepherd” is not just something Jesus does, it is who he is in relationship to his sheep. “I am the Good Shepherd!”

Jesus is not an hireling. He is the “Good Shepherd” who treats the sheep as though they are his own, because they are. He cares for them to the extent that he will lay down his life for his sheep.

So, Jesus is the “good shepherd,” and WE are his sheep. Jesus words bring our minds back to the words of the Psalmist. Even when times are tough and fear-monsters seem lurking around every dark corner – even when we travel through “the valley of the shadow of death,” the Lord is with us, guiding us through the dark shadows and into green pastures.

Jesus is the “Good Shepherd.” He is our shepherd and we are the sheep under his watchful care. He knows us and we know him. He makes sure we know him. He teaches us from the get-go how to hear and heed his voice. That’s why he says, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

In 1987 I visited most of the countries in the Middle East. While traveling through Jordon, our bus broke down. We exited, gathered our belongings, and waited along the side of the road for a replacement bus.

Just beyond where we were sitting, along a hillside, we saw several dozen sheep grazing with their shepherd nearby. Then we heard music. Coming over the hill was another shepherd, playing a flute, his sheep following him as he walked. The two shepherds meet and exchange pleasantries for several minutes. The two heards began to mingle. You could not tell one heard from the other.

Then the two shepherds parted company. The one with the flute began to play and all of his sheep ran to his side. They knew their shepherd MUSIC and followed Him. They knew his sound and accompanied him.

That’s the picture Jesus was painting. “I am the Good Shepherd. These sheep are like family to me. I take care of my sheep, even if it means laying down my life. They know my voice. They know the song I play. They are mine and they follow me!”

One of the members of our group asked our guide. “Have you ever seen anything like that?”

“Oh, yes!” he said. “Shepherds have all sorts of ways to single their sheep. They teach them music or the unique sound of their voice calling. This is very common!”

“Will the sheep ever follow anyone other than their shepherd?” the lady asked.

“Oh yes,” the guide replied. “Sometimes a sheep gets sick, and then it will follow anyone and wander anywhere.”

That got me thinking about the chorus of others voices – other calls, other songs – that beckon us. Pretend shepherds try to entice us away from the Good Shepherd. They try to lure us away from the joy of his grace and the security of his love. They offer all sorts of false promises and fake strategies for dealing with the fear-monsters of life. Sometimes, when we are weak and confused, we may fall victim to those enticements.

What happens when we wander away? In another place in scripture Jesus speaks about his relationship with lost sheep. When one of Jesus little lambs becomes lost – when we wander away – Jesus sets out to find us, embrace us, and carry us home.

The hireling won’t do that. The hireling will say, “There were 100 sheep when I started. I still have the 99. That’s good enough. I am only paid by the hour, anyways. I am not going to put my life on the line out in the dangerous wilderness for one little lamb that wandered away from the rest of the flock.”

The “Good Shepherd” is not willing that any of his sheep should perish. The “Good Shepherd” is not willing that any of us stay lost. The “Good Shepherd” goes out and find the little lost lamb, no matter what the dangers, so he can carry that lamb home on his shoulders.

“I am the Good Shepherd, I lay down my life for my sheep.”
“I’ve come that you might have life – and have it with abundance.”
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.”

These words of Jesus paints a picture of one who reaches out to us in love so that we might hear his voice (his music) above the cacophony of all the other competing songs and sounds.

So, when you are out there, feeling alone, feeling fearful and apprehensive, feeling a sense of despair and dread…know that your feelings are not the final determiner of what is true.

Jesus is the voice of truth and he plays his song so that we will recognize that he is with us and loves us. He says to us:

“I am here.”
“I am your shepherd and you are my little lamb!”
“You may have lost me, but I have not lost you.”
“You are liked, loved, accepted, included, and adopted.”
“I am for you!”
“I have come across all worlds to enter your darkness!”
“You are mine! I have come to take you home!”
“Let me lift you up on my shoulders and carry you to safety!”
“Come here, my little lamb! Come here.”

The first passage, from John 10, teaches us that Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

The next passage (from John 13) comes from Jesus passion…
…it is the night of his final supper with his disciples
…it is the night of his betrayal by Judas
…it is the night on which Peter will deny him
…it is the night on which all the other disciples will desert him

Earlier we discover that Jesus had a pretty good idea of what was coming. He sensed that soon would be the occasion when he would lay down his life for his sheep.

So, what did he do? Well, let me ask you this question, first: “What do we do?” “What do we do when the darker side of life rears its ugly head?”

We gripe and complain. We cry gloom, despair, and agony on me!
We speak of deep, dark, depression, and excessive misery. We say that if it weren’t for bad luck, we’d have no luck and all!

What do we do? We ask:

Is there any hope for our situation?
Is there any chance things will get better?

Jesus doesn’t do any of that. He knows that he is safe and secure in his Papa’s embrace. No matter what happens – even if it means a cross – he knows that is with the Father and the Holy Spirit – so he’s not going to stop being who he is and doing what he does, no matter what.

So, what does he do? He illustrates the extent of his love by grabbing a towel and a basin of water, then he kneels before each disciple (as a servant or slave might do) and he washes their gritty, grimy, disgusting.

I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of feet. But when my children were born, I would tickle their feet, play with their feet, and kiss their feet. You see those were not just any feet…they were my children’s feet. Each time I grabbed a foot and kissed it, I was communicating to my children that I liked them, loved them, accepted them, and included them. They were MY children. They were a part of me.

So, one of the things Jesus is telling his disciples is that they belonged to him.


But there is something more. Jesus is acting and speaking on this most fearful night of his life – and he is telling his disciples, he is telling the early church, and he is telling us…

That we are to love one another – love the entire world – in the same manner in which he has loved us.

Jesus shows us mercy, grace, and forgiveness. He cares for us and communicates that we are liked, loved, accepted, included, and adopted. Jesus says, “Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.”

This is amazing! In the middle of a world that seems filled with all sorts of fear monsters, Jesus offers two simple lessons.

First, he reminds us that he is the “Good Shepherd.” He says, “Little lamb, I love you. You belong to me!” He tells us that we are welcomed and accepted in his wondrous love and abounding grace.

Next, he reminds us that we are all siblings under his care. We belong to each. We are family. Just as Jesus loves us, we are to love one another.

He’s not just talking about those of us in here. He not just talking about those in the sheep pen. He’s also talking about all those little lambs that have wandered away and are lost in the wild places. When we love those folks – when we love the world in word and deed, through mission and ministry – we might just become the “Good Shepherd’s Song” that will bring that person home to an awareness of God’s grace, love, acceptance, inclusion, and adoption.


“Let Your Faith Be Bigger Than Your Fear” Hanging or Standing Décor Wood Box Sign for the Home – Office – Desk, Wall or Tabletop Display – 5″ X 9″
publisher: Primitives by Kathy
EAN: 0883504194402
sales rank: 114912
price: $14.50 (new)

This decorative wooden box sign reminds you to “Let your faith be bigger than your fear”. Painted to have a rustic and distressed finish, this sign is a great decorative item for your home or cabin. The sign is 5″ long and 9″ tall and 1.75″ deep so it can stand freely on a cabinet, table, or desk or hang for wall display.


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