Summary: What is the Good News about Jesus? It is salvation through belief in His sacrificial death and in His resurrection.
Fourth Sunday of Easter B
Ian Simmons in his book on bizarre animal stories tells about a group of Chinese shepherds in Mongolia who were put into a difficult place where their large herd of sheep got it into their minds to jump into a lake 5ft feet deep. In took twenty herdsman three-hours to rescue them, saving 281 sheep, while another 249 drowned. Some of the rescued animals had to be restrained from jumping back into the water so they could rejoin the others.
Remember your mother saying to you something like, “Well, if all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?
Actually your mother’s saying is based on the book of Exodus, Chapter 22, where it says, “You shall not allege the example of the many as an excuse for doing wrong.”
Hearing the voice of the Shepherd is what protects us from dangers to our salvation; from going astray.
A Middle Eastern shepherd was particularly vulnerable to two common external threats: thieves (individuals and gangs) and wild animals. It was not uncommon for wandering individuals or even marauding groups to attempt theft of sheep in such isolated locales.
The sheep recognize the voice of the shepherd but flee at the voice of the stranger, or danger. A common practice among shepherds was the ascription of names to various sheep within the flock, often based on some distinguishing characteristic.
The best parents are “good shepherds.” They love all their children equally, and they really mean it when they say, “You are all my ‘favorites’!” They understand and respect the differences between their children: Jack loves sports, while Tim is a bookworm. Sarah is a tomboy, and Mary likes computers.
At the allegorical level, Jesus is using this as a description of his familiarity with and affection for his followers; this speaks of our intimate union with him in prayer. Satisfied with your experience? Deeply dissatisfied? Somewhat dissatisfied? We increasingly want to experience intimacy with God and it begins first thing in the morning with meditation on the Word.
2. The Good Shepherd says, “I lay down my life in order to take it up again.”
What is the Good News about Jesus? Briefly, it is salvation through belief in His sacrificial death and in His resurrection.
As Paul says (Rom. 5:7-8), “For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Jesus died voluntarily, in obedience to the will of the Father (John 10:18). He wants us to know and to feel His deep, selfless care for us. The word translated “good” has the nuance of excellence or beauty. The beauty of Jesus, the shepherd who gave Himself to rescue us from God’s judgment, should draw our hearts in love to Him.
What are you wrestling with right now in this time and in this season?
Are you willing to have a crucifixion in an area of your life and trust God for a resurrection?