Fourth Sunday of Easter
‘Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Summary – In Eastertide we have seen the themes of Life and Resurrection in the face of doubt and disbelief in the cases of Mary Magdalene, the disciples, Thomas and the Emmaus road travelers. Now in John 10 we have a less explicit case of addressing Life and Resurrection, though v 17 says, “I lay down My life so that I may take it again.” The theme here is Abundant Life. It is established on the ground that Jesus is the Good Shepherd (rather than some impostor, v1).
Insight – Observe three things which are necessary for abundant life (v10):
1) Entering into the Good Shepherd’s Care (v1, 9) – Jesus stresses that He is the way into the abundant life. He is “the door.” There is no other path which leads to abundant life, which includes Resurrection.
2) Listening to the Good Shepherd’s Voice (v3, 8) – The “sheep” of Jesus listen to His voice. There are multitudes of voices crying and bleating, but the sheep hear the one voice that leads them out to “find pasture” or to get all their fill of abundant life.
3) Following the Good Shepherd’s Leading (v3, 9) – It seems as though it is possible to enter into the fold, to hear the Shepherd’s voice, but then instead of following Him, a sheep could stay secure in the pen rather than be led to green pastures. The abundant life in the Lord requires enough faith to follow Jesus into a new, perhaps unfamiliar place, but a place of goodness. Ultimately it comes back down to whether Jesus is really a Good Shepherd.
Child’s Catechism – Who is Jesus and what does He give? Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gives us abundant life?
Discussion – What are some ways you see the goodness of the Good Shepherd in your life?
Prayer – O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people; Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.