Summary: A sermon fro the 4th Sunday of Easter Good Shepherd
Fourth Sunday of Easter
The cowboy and the shepherd
1 ¶ "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber;
2 but he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the gatekeeper opens; the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.
5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers."
6 This figure Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not heed them.
9* I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. RSV
Grace and peace to your from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen
In American folk lore, we have the cowboy. He rides his horse as he guides his cattle on a cattle drive to market.
In Biblical folk lore, we have the shepherd, He walk ahead of his sheep as he guides them to be sheared of their wool.
"He rears his horse to a stop on the rim of the canyon. He shifts his weight in his saddle, weary from the cattle trail. One finger pushes his hat up on his head. One jerk of the kerchief reveals a sun-leathered face.
A thousand head of cattle pass behind. A thousand miles of trail lie before him. A thousand women would love to hold him. But none do. None will. He lives to drive cattle, and he drive cattle to live. He is honest in poker and quick with a gun. Hard riding. Slow talking. His best friend is his horse, and his strength is his grit.
He needs no one. He is a cowboy. The American hero.
Behold a hero in the Bible: the shepherd.
On the surface he appears similar to the cowboy. He, too, is rugged. He sleeps where the jackals howl and works where the wolves prowl. Never off duty. Always alert. Like the cowboy, he makes his roof the stars and the pasture his homeland.
But that is where the similarities end.
The shepherd loves his sheep. It’s not that the cowboy doesn’t appreciate the cow; it’s just that he doesn’t know the animal. He doesn’t even want to.
Have you ever seen a picture of a cowboy caressing a cow? Have you ever seen a shepherd caring for a sheep? Why the difference?
Simple. The cowboy leads the cow to slaughter. The shepherd leads the sheep to be shorn. The cowboy wants the meat of the cow. The shepherd wants the wool of the sheep. And so they treat the animals differently.
The cowboy drives the cattle. The shepherd leads the sheep. A herd has a dozen cowboys. A flock has one shepherd. The cowboy wrestles, brands, herds, and ropes. The shepherd leads, guides, feeds, and anoints.
The cowboy whoops and hollers at the cows. The shepherd calls each sheep by name.