Do Not Fear the Valley - Psalm 23, Luke 8, John 20 - sermon notes
This sermon focuses on the promise of God to walk with his sheep through the valley and the illustration of such care within the ministry of Jesus Christ.
- The sermon for this worship service occurs in three parts and is based on three different, but interlocking, Scripture passages. As you prepare the message, you must have a clear overview of the context and intent of each of the three passages.
- The first brief message dwells on the fourth verse of Psalm 23. Valleys can be beautiful places if you are a photographer looking for scenery. But if you are a sheep valleys can be dangerous and threatening. Predators lurk in valleys. Natural dangers like rockslides and flash floods occur in valleys. So they are known to sheep and shepherds as "valleys of death." David understood the "valleys of death," as did Jesus during his earthly life. So do we. Before the service continues it would be good for us to each identify our "valleys." The time of silence can be used for reflecting on this.
- The second brief message steps into the event on the Sea of Galilee with Jesus and the disciples. Walking through valleys usually involves dread and recoiling from pain and/or fear. When Jesus and the disciples were in the boat during a storm they certainly experienced such fear and dread. Jesus called them not to give in to it, but to rise above it by taking their faith and putting it into action. He expected them to remind themselves of who he was, what they believed, and the care they could count on.
- The third part of the message is based on the John 20 record of Jesus' post-Easter appearances. The disciples had been traveling through a very dangerous valley and were filled with disillusionment. Now they heard the news that he was alive again, and didn't know what to believe. It was a classic "fear event." Jesus answered their fear by stepping into their presence, fixing their attention on him, and speaking his peace! This method is the one he often uses-fixing our attention on him, and promising peace!
- In Psalm 23 David mentions two possessions of the shepherd to complete this thought: the rod and the staff. The rod is a weapon of defense that can be hurled at an enemy with the precision of an arrow. The staff is a tool of caring, with the hook or loop on the top making it suitable to pick up a lamb and lift it back to the mother, or rescue a stray sheep from a dangerous spot.
- Peace is not determined by the absence of valleys, but by the presence of the caring shepherd in the valleys.