Summary: Jesus helps his listeners to identify faithful shepherds of His Word and how they can know they are true sheep of His pasture.
Easter 4 A
A Test of Authenticity
You wouldn’t think it would be all that difficult. Loading a computer program onto your computer these days is usually as simple as placing the CD in the computer and following the simple instructions on the screen. But this is not always the case, especially when you’re reloading programs that were originally on your computer when you first purchased it.
You see, not too long ago, I had a virus that required me to wipe out everything that I had on my system and start from scratch. It would be time consuming, but easy enough. And it was easy until I actually got started. No sooner had I popped that first CD into the computer it asked me for a number from a certificate of authenticity.
You see, it wasn’t enough for the makers of Microsoft, that I had the program CD. I had to have the original packaging so as to guarantee that I wasn’t using some pirated copy of their program. I needed the numbers on a green and white piece of paper like the ones on this box or the program wouldn’t even begin to load.
Sometimes it’s important to have the real thing. We can put up with generic medications. We can tolerate no-name steaks and Hy-Vee pop, outlet stores and other alternatives. But when we’re sick, we won’t want to settle for the guy who plays a doctor on TV. When we’re in a serious legal matter we won’t just want to just talk to (your local lawyer’s name) next door neighbor. And when it comes to matters of eternity, getting right with our God, knowing the way of salvation; we’ll want to know the real thing too. We’ll want to know a real shepherd who will lead us in the way of life.
Jesus wants us to know as well. That’s what he was up to in our text. To catch up with the context of Jesus’ statements we go back several weeks. It was in the heart of Lent that we heard how Jesus and his disciples had met up with a man who was born blind. The disciples had asked Jesus why the man had suffered this affliction. “Was it because he sinned or his parents?” Jesus had said, “Neither. This has happened that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” Then after speaking with the man and wiping a bit of mud in his eyes, Jesus told the man to go to the pool of Siloam and wash. There his eyes were opened. He could see. But as we know, that was hardly the end of the story. When the man’s friends saw he had been healed and how, they took him to their religious leaders where the incident was investigated. And in the end, because of his testimony concerning Jesus, the man who had formerly been blind was thrown out of the synagogue. He was cut off from the worshipping community.
That’s the background of our lesson today. Following the man’s removal, Jesus sought him out and found him. He confirmed the man’s faith in him. He spoke of the spiritual blindness of the Pharisees and others who rejected him. And in front of his disciples, this man and some Pharisees and other Jews who were following him Jesus now shares this illustrative lesson about His kingdom; about would be shepherds, true shepherds and His sheep.