December 14, 2019

Sunday’s Gospel: Endless Attention, Meticulous Care

By Chaplain Mike

Each Sunday, we present devotional thoughts based upon the Gospel reading from the Revised Common Lectionary.

Today is the fourth Sunday in Easter, Good Shepherd Sunday.
Today’s Gospel is John 10:22-30.

Gospel Text

At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; it was winter, and Jesus was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon.

The Jews then gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, “How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Christ, tell us plainly.”

Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father’s name, these testify of Me. But you do not believe because you are not of My sheep. My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.” (NASB)

Thoughts

Because of the lectionary readings for today, this fourth Sunday of the Easter season is known as “Good Shepherd Sunday.” Building upon Jesus’ words to Peter that we heard last week, “Feed my sheep” (John 21:17), we look this morning at the Good Shepherd who tends us all.

One of Scripture’s most familiar passages, Psalm 23, begins, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.” It then proceeds to list and describe all the ways our good God takes care of us. In our text this morning, we have Jesus’ claim to be that Shepherd, and his own description of the care he provides to the sheep in his flock.

  • As Jesus’ sheep, we have the privilege of hearing his voice. Our relationship with Christ is a conversational relationship. The words of truth, grace, and peace that he speaks to us are among our greatest treasures. “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life!” (John 6:68).
  • As Jesus’ sheep, we are known by him and led by him. Our Shepherd has a keen sense for what each one of us needs. Therefore, we follow him, knowing he will guide us to the places and through the experiences that will benefit us most.
  • Above all, we have security in the care of our good Shepherd. The food he feeds us brings us life. His strong protection fights off all predators that might separate us from the flock. In full unity and partnership with the Father, he provides an ironclad guarantee: “Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:39).

In W. Phillip Keller’s classic devotional book, A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23, the author tells how he came to own his first flock.

I recall quite clearly how in my first venture with sheep, the question of paying a price for my ewes was so terribly important. They belonged to me only by virtue of the fact that I paid hard cash for them. It was money earned by the blood and sweat and tears drawn from my own body during the desperate grinding years of the Depression. And when I bought that first small flock I was buying them literally with my own body which had been laid down with this day in mind.

Because of this I felt in a special way that they were in very truth a part of me and I a part of them. There was an intimate identity involved which, though not apparent on the surface to the casual observer, nonetheless made those thirty ewes exceedingly precious to me.

But the day I bought them I also realized that this was but the first stage in a long, lasting endeavor in which, from then on, I would, as their owner, have to continually lay down my life for them if they were to flourish and prosper. Sheep do not “just take care of themselves” as some might suppose. They require, more than any other class of livestock, endless attention and meticulous care.

With “endless attention and meticulous care”—this describes how our Good Shepherd watches over us, now and forever. What could be better than that?

Comments

  1. “Loving Shepherd of Thy Sheep”

    Words: Jane Leeson, 1842.
    Music: Leighton Hayne, 1863.

    Loving Shepherd of Thy sheep,
    Keep Thy lamb, in safety keep;
    Nothing can Thy power withstand,
    None can pluck me from Thy hand.

    Loving Savior, Thou didst give
    Thine own life that we might live,
    And the hands outstretched to bless
    Bear the cruel nails’ impress.

    I would praise Thee every day,
    Gladly all Thy will obey,
    Like Thy blessèd ones above
    Happy in Thy precious love.

    Loving Shepherd, ever near,
    Teach Thy lamb Thy voice to hear,
    Suffer not my steps to stray
    From the straight and narrow way.

    Where Thou leadest I would go,
    Walking in Thy steps below,
    Till before my Father’s throne
    I shall know as I am known.

    (Found this today online. I had never seen or heard it before. Seems appropriate for today)

  2. Steve Newell says

    On our own, we do not know the Good Shepherd’s voice. It is Jesus who calls us to him and gives us the ability to know his voice.

    BTW, sheep are really dumb animals. If we are compared to sheep, then we truly need a Good Shepherd.

    • No kidding. We’ve had sheep and now have goats. I would take a hundred goats over one sheep any time. God is not complimenting us in saying we’re sheep. The striking thing about their particular brand of stupidity is that they don’t know what’s good for them and fight against our attempts to keep them safe and happy. Um . . . sound familiar?

  3. Such a meaningful passage of those in Christ. Earlier in the chapter Jesus says he call his own sheep by name. How personal and intimate, whether this is our given name, a name embedded in our Spirit, or a name like “beloved” which is spoke to one and all both individually and corporately.
    I love the simple rhythm of his calling, we recognize/listen, he leads, we follow, he give us…(eternal life).

  4. we are sheep!!!! — we poop on everything & don’t know where we are going!!! Jesus Help us!