JESUS: OUR GOOD SHEPHERD
(A biblical refection on THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR C] – 12 May 2019)
Gospel Reading: John 10:27-30
First Reading: Acts 13:14,43-52; Psalms: Psalm 100:2,3,5; Second Reading: Revelation 7:9,14-17
The Scripture Text
“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, and no one shall 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.” (John 10:27-30 RSV)
Since Easter, the Sunday Gospel readings have all had something to do with Jesus’ resurrection. Today’s reading seems to be an exception until we look at it more closely.
The reading begins with Jesus saying His sheep know His voice and follow Him. The Bible mentions sheep over 500 times but that’s not so unusual when we consider how important sheep were to everyday life, providing meat to eat, milk to drink, and wool to make clothing. Ancient people even used their horns as containers for oil and as musical instruments.
Because shepherds had a very close relationship with their sheep, all a shepherd had to do was call his sheep and they immediately would come to him even if several flocks had mingled together. The same sheep would not budge an inch if a stranger summoned them.
The sheep in today’s reading represent those people who have a very close relationship with Jesus. Jesus promises to give eternal life to His sheep and He says He will never let them perish just as He Himself will never die again. In other words, Jesus vows that those who are faithful to Him will share in His resurrected life, with death no longer having any permanent power over them either. This eternal life is what we mean when we say we believe in the resurrection of the body and life everlasting.
The reading ends with Jesus claiming He and the Father are one, thus making Himself equal to God. The Jews would have considered this assertion blasphemous and their law required them to stone to death the person who spoke these words. Being good Jews, the apostles also would have had problems with this statement unless Jesus had already died and been raised. Only after the resurrection would they have been able to accept what Jesus was saying. Thus, although we find today’s reading in the middle of John’s Gospel as if Jesus uttered these words before He died, it is more like John is recalling words the resurrected Jesus spoke to His apostles.
(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 264-265.)
Short Prayer: Lord Jesus Christ, You are our faithful Shepherd, because You love and treasure each of Your sheep. With full confidence we place our lives in Your hands. Help us, O Lord, to hear Your voice and follow You into Your pasture. Amen.
Jakarta, 10 May 2019
A Christian Pilgrim