Posted by on Apr 23, 2021 in Pastor's Blog | Comments Off on Leading and Following

The gospel reading for the 4th Sunday of Easter is from John 10:11-18. This is a very familiar passage to all of us, but there are some interesting items contained in this section that we will discover as we consider it.

In this section of chapter 10, Jesus has been using the phrase “the good shepherd” to describe himself and what he does for his sheep. He uses this phrase or image seven times and always couples that phrase with “I Am” so there is no question as to who Jesus is talking about.

In this section from John’s gospel, we see Jesus telling the people that he will lay down his life for them…which is foretelling Jesus’ death. He is previously told the people that he is the gate by which they enter His fold and that his followers know his voice and will follow him.

However, there are a couple of comparisons in this section that are important for us to consider. Jesus states he is the good shepherd who cares for his flock to the point that he would die to make sure they lived and were saved.

Then, John uses the phrase “hired hand” to indicate that there are leaders who are bad shepherds. They want to have people follow them to build up their own egos and their pocketbooks. However, these leaders do not really care for the sheep. If something evil or bad comes along, the hired hand allows the sheep to leave the flock and die. They are not interested in actually caring for the sheep…only what the sheep will bring when sold in the market.

With Jesus as the owner, there is a hint to us that this shepherd bought his sheep with his own blood. His blood saved the sheep and he loves them. He enters into a relationship with his sheep….he knows them…and they know him.

Another interesting aspect of this portion of the reading for today is that Jesus is talking to the “other sheep” that do not belong to the fold…and he wants them to be part of the fold. In this statement, Jesus was telling the people that he came for everyone. He came for the Gentiles and wants them to be part of his flock, also.

Remember…this is actually Jesus who is making the statement that he wants to bring all people into his flock and knows they will listen to his voice, also. He will know them and they will know and follow him. There will be one flock and a relationship between all who are part of the flock.

What I found interesting and quite eye-opening was the statement Jesus was making in verses 17
and 18 of this passage when he says, “I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”

WOW! Jesus is telling the people and those of us who are reading this that He had the power and authority to give up His life voluntarily for the members of his flock. And he has the authority to resurrect himself from the dead.

This set of statements gave me pause to consider what we have been experiencing during Lent and on Easter Sunday. We have seen Jesus minister to many people…heal people…speak to crowds and then go off by himself to remember what he has the power to do to save all of those (and us) who he has saved and given promise of a new life if we are part of his flock. We have seen Jesus agonize over what will be happening during the week of his crucifixion…the pain and anguish he will experience as well as death. This Jesus is the human gift to us by God…who did this all for us willingly and voluntarily. We see both the Father and His Son active in the death and resurrection of Jesus.

Now, what does this mean for us! This means that we, as followers, are part of Jesus’ family, his flock. All people in this world have been created by God and have the choice to be part of the flock. We, though, as followers are to also be those who can lead others to become part of Jesus family. We are to follow Jesus and He wants us to do for other people. Then, we are to be the leaders in helping others make the same decision.

Do we hear what Jesus is asking us to do? Do we hear too many of the “hired hands” who are only interested in their own selves and want their opinions to direct the world. Do we hear Jesus saying to us that we are to accept everyone into the flock? We are to be forgiving of other people and to act as Jesus wants us to act to them. We are to listen and accept them and work with them to make a change in our world.

The voice of God may be different in different people and in different places. But we are to hear what is said and accept it as God’s direction. Do we listen? But do we really hear? Can our listening and hearing really help make the needed changes in our world? God will help us as we listen to our shepherd and follow his direction in our lives and our world.

God IS with all of us all the time…we are part of his flock and we are safe in his flock.




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