3rd May 2020
`The way in…the way out… `
Good Shepherd Sunday
Welcome and Grace
`We all, like sheep have gone astray,
each of us has turned to our own way;
and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all`.
Isaiah 53: 6
Ps. 23 Crimond
Ps. 23 – The Divine Shepherd
A Psalm of David.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
3 he restores my soul.
He leads me in right paths
for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff—
they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord
my whole life long]
Shepherd God, Saviour and safety of the sheep,
Spirit of unflinching courage and inspiring tenderness,
You lead us, Your flock, You lead Your folk,
like the selfless, self-giving Shepherd God You are.
We are in awe.
Even though we walk through the shadowed valley…
You are with us.
You guide us – and rebuke us.
You show us the path to life in all its fullness.
For green pastures – even in the darkest of times –
For still waters – even in the most turbulent of times –
We thank You.
Come to us in these anxious times. Restore our soul.
For Your Name`s sake – and for the sake of the world You made and know and love – we ask.
As foolish sheep who wander off, forgive us our sins and help us follow the voice, the words, the Word of the Good Shepherd who gives, who gave His life for the sheep.
In the name and for the sake of this same Jesus, our risen Lord.
Acts 2: 42-47; 1 Peter 2: 19-25; John 10: 1-10
1 Peter 2:19-25 (NRSV)
19 For it is a credit to you if, being aware of God, you endure pain while suffering unjustly.
20 If you endure when you are beaten for doing wrong, what credit is that? But if you endure when you do right and suffer for it, you have God’s approval.
21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you should follow in his steps.
22 “He committed no sin, and no deceit was found in his mouth.”
23 When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered,he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly.
24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the cross, so that, free from sins, we might live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed.
25 For you were going astray like sheep, but now you have returned to the shepherd and guardian of your souls.
John 10:1-10 (NRSV)
10 “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit.
2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice.He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them,and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”
6 Jesus used this figure of speech with them,but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you,I am the gate for the sheep.
8 All who came before me are thieves and bandits;but the sheep did not listen to them.
9 I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved,and will come in and go out and find pasture.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
Two versions of Ps. 23
Reflection for 3rd May 2020 Good Shepherd Sunday – Easter 4
The way in…the way out…
`I am the gate…`
Here is one of the seven `I am…` sayings of Jesus in the Gospel of John. `I am the gate of/for the sheep`. John 10: 7, 9.
(The others you might like to look at…`I am…the bread of life 6: 35; the light of the world 8: 12; the good shepherd 10: 11, 14; the resurrection and the life 11: 25; the way, the truth, the life 14: 6;the true vine 15: 1, 5)
These `I am…` sayings are striking and important declarations made by Jesus. They hark back to Exodus 3: 14 – the moment of God`s self-disclosure of God`s self to Moses in the burning bush
In response to Moses` question God declares `I am who I am`.
Centuries later, no one hearing Jesus speak would have been in any doubt about what Jesus was saying about Himself. Dangerous stuff.
`I am the gate` is possibly the least remarked on of the `I am…` sayings.
We think of `I am the good shepherd` but that is not part of the passage set for today.
Gates are significant in the ancient world. Ancient cities were fortified strongholds with huge, imposing walls – and gates through the walls by which to enter and exit the city were essential. Jerusalem had twelve gates. One of them was so narrow, it was apparently known as `the eyeof the needle`. So when Jesus says it would be easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God, He was making a joke locals would have understood and appreciated. (Matt. 19: 24; Mark 10: 25; Luke 18: 25)
Gates, thresholds, lintels, places of cross over, places of choice,decision, destiny. Remember the speech of King George VI on Christmas Day 1939 `I said to the man who stood at the gate of the year…` It was an auspicious time, a dark time…a time like ours? A timeto decide about priorities, commitments and what really matters..
Jesus speaks about the narrow gate, the narrow door which leads to life. Matt. 7: 13, 14; Luke 13: 24
And in this chapter of John`s Gospel, He says `I am the gate for the sheep…`, `I am the gate.` 10: 7, 9 This is a necessarily narrow way.
It needs to be tight – otherwise dangerous animals might also get in.
When Jesus says `I am the gate for the sheep` He is saying – `I am theway into the safest place for you. I am the gate to safety from all that`s dangerous, all that would harm or hurt you. I am here to protect you, look after you. I am the way into the flock, the way into community, into a place of sanctuary, recognition and belonging.
And, more, I am the safe way out of the sheepfold to good, fresh pasture,
To the world beyond, because I am come that my followers (the sheep) may enjoy life, life in all its fullness.`
What a contrast with bandits and robbers, false shepherds, those who seek only to damage and destroy! And yet, perversely, there are many who prefer these false shepherds – about which the Old and New Testaments have much to say (Isaiah 56: 9-12; Ezekiel 34: 1-10) – to the good shepherd., the best shepherd, Jesus Christ.
There are many allusions to shepherds and sheep in both Old and New Testaments. The echoes of Ps. 23 `The Lord is my shepherd`, of Isaiah 40: 11 `He (Messiah) will lead his flock like a shepherd`, and Ezekiel 34:11-16 `For this is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will search for my sheep and look after them`, resound in this chapter of John.
What does it mean for us today that Jesus says `I am the gate`?
Q and A
Prayer and the Lord`s Prayer
May the love of God the Father surround you.
May the courage of God the Son strengthen you.
May the presence of God the Holy Spirit
comfort and inspire you
today and every day. Amen
What have, who has, been significant gateways in your life?
In your faith?
What do you make of the different `I am…` sayings?
What do they say to you in your life?
How do you respond to this saying of Jesus
`I am the gate for the sheep…I am the gate`?