Second Sun. after Easter St. John 10:11-16 15 April 2018 / Reverend Dr. Dennis Washburn
Introduction-a popular name for Second Sunday after Easter is Good Shepherd Sunday. The readings contain theme.
Two parts of shepherd theme in Old Testament. A) the LORD God of Israel as a shepherd and His covenant people as sheep. B) some Old Testament passages also call human leaders of Israel shepherds., especially King David, the greatest human ruler of ancient Israel. Because of King David, the title “shepherd” also acquired Messianic overtones.
In St. John 10:11, our Lord boldly proclaims, “I am the good shepherd.” Also two aspects of Jesus’ claim. 1) Jesus was claiming to be the Messiah-a leader like King David in many ways.
2) by calling Himself the Good Shepherd, Jesus of Nazareth was also moving to another level. In John’s Gospel, “I am” sayings from Jesus are reflections of God’s name in Exodus. Furthermore, Jesus does not merely say “I’m a good shepherd.” He says, “I am the good shepherd.”
God Himself is the Good Shepherd of Israel. So this claim by Jesus is a reflection of Jesus’ unique relationship with God the Father.
So Jesus is making a unique and powerful claim. He is both the human Messiah and the divine Son of God. He is the great leader of the chosen people in both ways. He cares for God’s flock. He nourishes their souls.
God’s flock is Christ’s flock. Jesus is not a hired hand who will abandon the sheep in hard times. The sheep recognize Him; they know that He is worthy of their trust. He looks after them even when it hurts Him. He lays down His life for their sakes, and Jesus Christ has the power to take up His life again for the sake of the flock.
In Scripture, a shepherd is a realistic, strong, hard-working, and brave leader. Really good shepherds willingly accepted a lonely and sometimes dangerous way of life. They truly cared for their sheep, especially for the weaker or more vulnerable members of their flock.
Christ does not desert His flock, even in hardship or danger. He cares for them so much that He accepted suffering and death to save them. And He has risen and returned from the grave to care for them and encourage them. Even from heaven, He continues to watch over His human flock, intercede for them, and send His Holy Spirit to guide them.
Easter is a season that stresses our hope in Christ, and knowing that Christ is our Good Shepherd highlights such hope in a special way. All too often we are like wandering sheep, but we do have a leader that we can trust. Easter is a celebration and a proclamation of the depth of our Shepherd’s love and of His victorious power.
In sum, the risen Lord offers each of us a place in His flock. He offers to provide for our souls throughout eternity. He offers us life abundant. So let us heed Him and have faith in Him. Let us be loyal and stay near our Good Shepherd. Let us accept His guidance and nourish our souls with His spiritual food and drink, with His Word and Sacraments.