All of Us Need a Shepherd


Fourth Sunday of Easter

Acts 13: 14, 43-52; Rev 7: 9, 14b-7; John 10: 27-30

Dc. Larry Brockman

Easter Joy!  For 50 days after Easter, we continue to celebrate the Resurrection and the joy that the Resurrection brings.  For the first several weeks, the focus was on the Jesus appearance to the Apostles and on the reception of the Resurrection by the community at Jerusalem.  Today, the focus is on all of us- the Gentiles.  Yes, the truth of Jesus and the Resurrection was offered first to the Jews, but, as we heard in the reading from Acts, most of the Jews rejected the truth.  They did not hear the shepherd’s voice and follow it.  Rather, it was the Gentiles who heard and believed and followed as Paul and Barnabas travelled about preaching the Gospel.  And that is the key.  We have got to first believe, and then follow after Jesus to experience the joy of the Resurrection, the promise of Everlasting Life that it brings.

Now the Book of Revelation gives a vision of Heaven lest any of us doubt its existence and whether the Gentiles share in that promise.  John had a vision of “A great multitude, which no one could count, from every nation, race, people, and tongue”.  Yes indeed, we are destined to join a crowd which no one can count, if we believe and follow the Good Shepherd, Jesus.

Let’s put that into focus:  First, not even all the technology of today can count the multitude.  Wow! That means lots of us are going to be saved!  Yes, everyone who wants to be saved, can be saved.  All people are welcome.   

But second, what else does it take to be saved?  Well, what does Revelation say about the folks who were saved?  It says that they survived the time of great distress.  That’s what they all had in common- not the same nation or race or people or tongue, but that they survived a time of great distress.   

I don’t know about you, but I can relate to the analogy of Jesus as the shepherd and the sheep versus people in a time of great distress.  First, I sometimes feel like one of the sheep.  Sheep are inclined to just wander aimlessly when they don’t have a shepherd.  No matter how hard I try, it is sometimes difficult to see clearly what God’s vision is for me.  So, sometimes I feel that I am wondering, like a sheep.  That’s when I realize that I need a shepherd.  Now, to be sure, I began life as an adult, plotting out my own course, my own dreams of what I wanted to be, and what I could become.  But during the course of life, things happen- sickness, financial problems, family problems, things I didn’t figure on when I planned my future.  And these unexpected things happen over and over again until one day, you look back, and wonder what happened to all your plans.  It is then that you discover that you are not in control.  You need a shepherd.  In effect, you are destined to follow the will of God, whether you like it or not because all these “things” that happen to you are acts of God.  The question is, are you just being dragged along reluctantly, fighting and kicking all the way,  maybe even looking for a way out; or, are you looking for the voice of the Shepherd along the way, whatever the route he takes you on.   

In my life, there are times when the way that God chooses for me seems distressed. It is painful and distressing to experience sickness or health problems- in my case 2 heart attacks, to discover you will not achieve your goals because others are stifling you; and to have family members hurt you.  But that is the reality of life- the environment that we were placed in.  And yet ultimately, all life follows after God’s plan.   

And so life itself is for me, and I suspect for most of you too, a great time of distress.  Not that it doesn’t, and can’t have its joys, but it certainly also has its distress.  The secret is to listen for the voice of the shepherd, and to follow his voice in whatever situation you find yourself.  Follow that voice of conscience deep inside of you, when it tells you to hang in there; bear up; or make a difficult choice that you know is right.  Why?  Because in today’s Gospel Jesus promises us not once, not twice, but three times, that no one can take you away from Eternal Life if you listen to His voice and follow Him.  That is our Easter joy fulfilled. 

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