Easter 4

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John 10:1-10 - Jesus the Good Shepherd

‘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. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.’ 6Jesus 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. 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

There is a danger of thinking that Easter is a day, or at best, a weekend.
But in reality, Easter is not a moment in time!
It's an experience. It’s is something that happens to us, just like it happened to a group of companions long ago,
and has happened to people throughout history. The resurrection experiences are not simply exclusive gifts for people who are specially blessed – those who walked with Jesus, and shared his ministry. The same gift is offered to us. In different ways, at different times in our lives, to experience the presence of God in Christ in ever new ways.

In the Gospel reading set for today (John 10:1-10) are three main images:
that of the shepherd
that of the gatekeeper
that of the known voice.
And all three are significantly helpful for us as we think about the implications of the Easter event for us, and for our world.
The image of the shepherd is one of commitment and provision.
The concept of the gatekeeper brings with it thoughts about security, and protection, and boundaries, and within those boundaries, freedom.The awareness of the beloved voice brings comfort, closeness and confidence.

These three images have connections into the resurrection stories we know well …

  • There is a reminder of Jesus after the resurrection feeding the disciples on the shore, and of his conversation with Peter – “Do you love me? …Feed my sheep”
  • There is a reminder of the what happened to the disciples and to Thomas when the doors were closed, and the disciples were locked away. Jesus comes into the room that is locked, opens the doors that have confined them, and sets them free to discover the One who is “My Lord and my God”.
  • There is a reminder of Mary’s experience in the garden where she’s lost in her grief, and can see nothing clearly, and understand none of the events she’s experienced, until Jesus calls her by name, and love is restored, life is resumed.

And these resurrection experiences are not lost on us.
Jesus the shepherd still provides and cares for us.
Jesus the gatekeeper still opens up for us new ways of living.
Jesus still speaks to us, comforts us, guides us and calls us to new experiences and opportunities.

And so Easter truly becomes an ongoing blessing not simply a weekend wonder, nor even a Sunday surprise.
The reality of Jesus’ presence – the outcome of his sacrifice for us and of God’s act in raising him from death –
is a gift from each of us, every day.

 

Prayer

Help us to hear your voice, Loving Jesus,
as you call us into new life.
Make us ready to respond to every need,
let us see every person as one of your friends,
show us your life continually present in our world.
Help us to acknowledge the boundaries you set, Loving Jesus,
as you shelter us and protect us.
Within those boundaries, set us free to be people of faith and service.
When you open doors for us, may we be eager to come in and go out,
to share with everyone the love and the life you give.
Help us to follow in your way, Loving Jesus,
as you lead us into the experiences of this day and this week.
May we be quick to take note of the blessings
you bestow on us and on all people,
and let our gratitude be seen in the ways we care for our neighbours and our world.
For your love’s sake, we ask it. Amen