Summary: In a world of so many false, competing voices, do we recognize, listen to, and follow the voice of our Good Shepherd?
Sermon for 4th Sunday of Easter, Year C
Based on Ps. 23; Rev. 7:16-17; Jn. 10:22-30
By Pastor Garth Wehrfritz-Hanson
“The Good Shepherd”
Our psalm, second lesson and gospel for today all employ the metaphor of God as Shepherd and people as sheep. Most of us find comfort in the metaphor of God as Shepherd. However, when it comes to the metaphor of people as sheep; a lot of us protest and become rather indignant—we’re not dumb and blind like sheep, are we? We don’t easily fall astray or get lost very easy, do we? No one is able to fool, trick or deceive us by “pulling the wool over our eyes,” are they?
In our psalm, second lesson and gospel, the sheep are pictured as following the shepherd, recognizing and listening to the shepherd’s voice. But I wonder, do we as sheep of Christ our Good Shepherd always follow him? Do we as sheep of Christ’s flock always recognize and listen to his voice?
Many of you who’ve watched CBC television for a long time have likely seen the program, “Front Page Challenge.” The program frequently has hidden their familiar guests and attempts to disguise their voices. On a number of occasions, the illustrious panel members have failed to identify the hidden guest’s voice—on other occasions, they have been very discerning by recognizing the voice.
Most of us have also had similar experiences when answering the telephone. Sometimes we receive a call from someone whom we know but maybe haven’t talked with or seen for a long time. Sometimes we might recognize their voice, while at other times, we might not.
Another experience some of you maybe can identify with is getting lost as a child or losing a child in a crowded public place. That’s got to be one of the most terrifying experiences in the world. In panic, the parents will yell out the child’s name or the child will yell out for their parents. One of the most joyful scenes one could ever witness is the reunion of parents and their children when they hear each other’s voices and are led out of their lostness by finding one another.
Jesus says: “My sheep hear my voice, I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand.” These are very comforting words to us all; some of the most comforting we’re ever likely to hear. Yet, I wonder: do we as Christ’s sheep really listen to; really hear Christ’s voice? Do we really follow Christ?
There are so many voices speaking to us in our world today. The mass media, especially through advertising, speaks with a very influential, manipulative, seductive voice. So many people in our society literally “buy into” this voice of the mass media advertising industry. It preaches a message of endless greed and consumerism. It tells us: “You must have this, that, or the other thing. You can have anything you want. Satisfy your every want, you deserve it, you can have it all.” This message is not the voice of Christ. It stops at nothing to exploit people and all of the world’s resources. It is a message of death; it is killing us by making the poor poorer, the rich richer and by polluting our environment and depleting all of the earth’s resources. It is also a lie, because it would lead people to believe that our ultimate needs can be met by buying and possessing consumer goods. Our ultimate needs can only be met be being in loving relationships with God and one another.