Fourth Sunday of Easter

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Today we look at Jesus the Good Shepherd who cares for all, cares for us..  (To see the words of the Gospel today, click here.)  You and I have much experience with sheep or shepherds? No. But the idea of shepherd and sheep is in the Bible very often.

Here are some ideas about sheep and shepherd; then we will see how we have the same relationship with Jesus.  Sheep depend on the shepherd a lot.  The shepherd is close to the sheep; he lives with the sheep; he sleeps with the sheep. He is with the sheep 24 hours a day seven days a week.  He knows the name of each sheep; he knows the sheep that are strong, and he knows the sheep that are weak.  But always the shepherd says, “I belong to you and you sheep belong to me.”

Notice: The shepherd is close to his sheep.  So Jesus is close to us.  Sometimes we think Jesus is far away in heaven.  A long time ago he was with us here on earth, but now he is gone back to heaven; Jesus is far away. This is a wrong idea!  Jesus the shepherd in the past is the same as Jesus the shepherd now.  Jesus is still with us, very close to us, not far away. Today we worry about many things, especially about the coronavirus.  Remember Jesus is with us when we worry; he is still taking care of us. When we are afraid, Jesus is with us. When we worry, Jesus is with us. When we are confused about the future, Jesus is with us.  Jesus is with us always.

Jesus says, “I am the gate.”  Means what?  Remember a long time ago the shepherd and the sheep always stay out on the hills.  At night the shepherd leads the sheep into a cage on the hillside; it has no gate. So the shepherd lies down at the entrance in front, why? To keep the sheep inside and safe and to stop wild animals from coming in to hurt the sheep.  The shepherd always wants to protect his sheep.  So Jesus is our gate; he protects us. We feel worried, then ask Jesus for strength.  We are confused, then ask Jesus for help to understand.  We are afraid, then ask Jesus for courage.  Jesus always wants to help us because he is our shepherd with us to protect us.

The shepherd always knew each sheep; he knew their names; he knew some were weak; he knew some liked to run away.  If a sheep ran away, the good shepherd searched a long time to find the sheep and bring it back safe.  Like the good shepherd Jesus knows us, his sheep.  He knows our names; he knows our weaknesses; he knows we make mistakes; he knows we wander off.  Then is Jesus angry? No.  Jesus searches for us, wants us with him, then we will be safe.  Maybe this coronavirus is helping us know we are weak; we can’t control everything.  Sometimes people think, “I am the boss; I can control everything. I do not depend on anyone. I do not need God.  I do not need to pray to God to ask his help.  I can do everything myself.” This virus is showing us we are not very strong; we need a Power greater than ourselves.  We need a Person strong, kind, caring for us,who will always be with us, a Person who wants the best for us always. This Person is Jesus the Lord.  We have a lot of technology, and science knows a lot; but none of it can protect us from a bug we can’t see; the bug is so small we need a powerful microscope to see it.  This coronavirus helps us know we need a relationship with the Lord, a Person more powerful, stronger, more dependable.

Like a bad sheep, we can wander off, sin, ignore God, tell Jesus, “We do not care about You.”  Jesus does what?  He rejects us? Ignores us? Dismisses us? No.  Like the good shepherd Jesus looks for us, finds us, picks us up and gently carries us in his arms and brings us home to be safe.  The sheep is who? You and me. We are weak, sin, make mistakes. No matter.  Jesus picks us up in his arms and carries us home; he gently cares for us; then we are saved.

The shepherds are who? Pope, bishops, priests, yes.  But you are a shepherd.  How? Why?  God wants you to care for others, lead others, help others, many others or few others, no matter.  God calls you to care for them; so be a good shepherd like Jesus, gentle and caring, exactly like Jesus.

Let me tell you a story:  God’s people were slaves in Egypt.  God wanted to lead his people out of slavery in Egypt and lead them to their true home where they could be safe and happy and free.  God looked and looked to find a good leader.  One day he saw Moses.  Moses was taking care of a flock of sheep.  Then one young sheep suddenly ran away.  Moses immediately left the other sheep and ran after the little sheep.  Why?  Moses thought the sheep might get lost, or fall and hurt itself, or be killed by some animal.  Finally Moses found the little sheep by a stream of water drinking.  Moses thought, “I did not know you were so thirsty.”  When the little sheep finished drinking, Moses thought, “You must be tired.”  So Moses picked up the little sheep and carried it home to be with the rest of the sheep to be safe.  God saw Moses do all that and thought, “Moses is a good shepherd, a good leader, brave, strong, willing to care for all the sheep; he is kind, loving, warm, gentle.”  God decided Moses was the right man to lead his people Israel out of Egypt to freedom.

You and I have to become the same kind of shepherd, like Jesus, the Good Shepherd–brave, willing to suffer for the sheep, caring for all, gentle.  That is how Jesus cares for you and for me, and now you and I have to copy Jesus in the same way.  We must become like Jesus the Good Shepherd.

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