Sermons

Summary: The real question for us today is not, “Will God speak to me, to us today?” Instead, will we listen for that voice that is speaking? Jesus doesn’t say, “Listen and maybe I’ll have something to say.”

On this Fourth Sunday of Easter as you look at the lectionary the gospel lesson shifts from historical recounting of the events following to resurrection to Christological reflection. The goal is to assist us as we, like Mary and the disciples, seek to understand what happened and is happening to us, the flock of the good shepherd.

In the years, decades, and centuries, to our own time, the followers of Jesus have sought for ways to express, in words and images, who was and who is this person Jesus Christ.

John, for example, opened his gospel account with the grand vision of the one who was before all time and through whom all things came into being. Jesus was the very Word of God made flesh.

Some of the earliest images of Jesus found in churches and tombs were NOT portrayals of Jesus on the cross, or the infant in the manger. Rather, they picture Jesus as the gentle shepherd.

1. Jesus Was Using A Timely Example!

When Jesus spoke of shepherds and sheep, he was speaking to people who had everyday experiences with lambs, sheep, goats, and kids. Even if they made their living as a carpenter or fisher, they knew or watched the shepherds all of the time, moving the sheep and goats from the pens to the fields. They drank the milk of those animals, turned that milk into cheese, and eventually ate the animals. Those animals provided not just daily nourishment, they were essential for important religious rituals. All of Jesus’ friends and followers had grown up telling and re-telling the story of Moses and the flight out of Egypt. Each year they heard the call to “take a lamb for each family” (Exodus 12:3b) and prepare the Passover meal.

The truth is if we are going to understand the faith, we have to understand Jesus we are going to have to see Jesus as speaking to the times today. We are going to have to see Jesus as symbol of Hope, Power, Protection, and Love. What does it mean to see Jesus today as;

• a Good Doctor,

• a Good Coach,

• a Good Uncle,

• and a Good Pastor

2. Jesus Exemplified A Good Shepherd

Jesus’ lengthy exploration of what it means to be, and who is the good shepherd is a response to a group of Pharisees. Over and over again people were trying to understand who Jesus was and where he came from.

The Psalm appointed for this Sunday is perhaps one of the best known references, “The Lord is my shepherd.” (Psalm 23:1). The Psalm paints the picture of a loving, caring God/shepherd providing food, comfort, and shelter. They knew that they were “your people and the sheep of your [God’s] pasture” (Psalm 79:13).

The prophet Ezekiel had told them that God was angry with shepherds who took advantage of and abandoned their sheep. God declared, “I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. . . . I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I will make them lie down, says the Lord God.” (Ezekiel 34:11, 15)

You cannot miss that what the Good Shepherd does is provide food. They provide physical food when folks are hungry and Spiritual Food when folks don’t have church or a ministry or a way of getting to Jesus and the Word.

You also can’t miss that the Good Shepherd gives comfort. The Shepherd brings Peace to situation of chaos and crisis! I was on to the White house Faith Leaders briefing this week about Faith Based responses to COvid-19 and it was powerful the ideas that places of faith are bring folks shoots and healing and also comfort during the COVID crisis.

You also can’t overlook that The Good Shepherd provided shelter. The Good shepherd has to deliver on a place where folks can come to get out of the storm, Wesley this building is a blessing there are churches that cannot yet come back, this building where we set today is open we have been providing a place to provide vaccination clicks, COVID testing Site, We have been able to be a place to pass out Food to the hungry we have been a place where young people could come to take test and prepare for the future in the mist of the community wide shut down while other churches are still outside or online only because of your vision for the future you have a place to go! Now we still have work to do doors floors updates but The Good Shepard the Good Church provides Shelter.

3. What Does It Mean To Be A Sheep Of Jesus’ Flock?

It means that we enter through his gate. Jesus is the way to salvation. We know his voice and follow him. He cares for us, keeping us safe. And when we wander away, which we know we do all too often, he comes searching for us. These are wonderful, comforting images, but this passage includes one other challenging thought. The good shepherd decides who is in the sheepfold, we do not. “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold.” (John 10:16) The Pharisees and the disciples alike thought that they knew who the chosen ones of God were. But this shepherd is telling them, and telling us, that there will be “one flock, one shepherd” and it is God, in Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit, not we, who bring together that flock.

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