Second Sunday after Easter Morning Service (1 May 2022) John 10:11-16
We know that God separated Abraham from his father’s house. His grandson Jacob’s sons became the twelve tribes of Israel. Israelites were God’s chosen people. The Israelites lived comfortable lives in Egypt. Later, they became slaves in the same land. The LORD God delivered them from their bondage and led them to the promised land Canaan. When the chosen people were in Egypt, they did not have any laws and commandments to follow. The LORD God gave them Ten Commandments and the Old Testament Laws when they were in the wilderness. Instead of focussing on “Thou shalt not…” in the commandments, people gave importance the second part, which was to offer sacrifices. Committing sin and offering sacrifices was a routine cyclic process and the laws and commandments did not fulfil their purpose in their lives. The early sin influenced human race to commit sin against the LORD God. King David was referring to this when he said in Psalm 51:5, “I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me”. God the Father sent Jesus to break the bondage of sin and to save humans from eternal death. Jesus Christ offered Himself as the Passover Lamb as the one-time sacrifice.
Last week, we meditated about the Passover Lamb and the similarities between the Passover meal and Holy Communion. Today’s meditation is based on our Gospel reading, the Gospel according to St. John, chapter 10 verses 11–16. Verse 11 says, “I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” Verse 16 says, “And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd”. In this passage, Jesus says He is the good shepherd. He came to save His flock and also to redeem sheep from other flock and make them all together as one fold in Him. Let us meditate on the Good Shepherd and the Sheep of His Flock. Jesus is the Good Shepherd. All those who trust, obey and follow His commandments are His flock and sheep.
The Good Shepherd
When we hear the word ‘shepherd’, Psalm 23 is the passage that springs to our mind. We know the author of the Psalm, King David, was a shepherd boy. Saul was anointed as the first king of United Israel when he went looking for his father’s donkeys. David was called from the fields where he was taking care of sheep and anointed as the second king of United Israel. In Psalm 23, David tells us about the characters of the Good Shepherd.
The Good Shepherd Guides Us: In Psalm 23 verses 2 and 3, Kind David says that the Lord leads him beside still waters and in the paths of righteousness. Sheep are vulnerable and need constant protection. Shepherds always go before and after their flock to guide the sheep in the right way and to protect them . Sheep know the sound of their master and listen to their master’s voice. When the shepherd strikes their rod, the noise guides the sheep. The sheep are trained to listen to the sounds and signals from the shepherd. Psalm 95 says, “For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand”. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus leads and guides us in the paths of righteousness to inherit eternal life.
The Good Shepherd Gives Us Rest: In Psalm 23:3 David sang, “He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake”. In verse 4 he said, “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me”. David spent most of his life running away from his enemies. He lived in the wilderness. During those times, he only had the Lord God and David put his trust on Him. In all situations, he sang psalms and submitted his petitions to God. In this verse, David says that the Lord restores his soul. In other words, the Lord repairs and renovates his soul. David acknowledges that God leads him in the paths of righteousness even when he is in difficult situations. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus gives us rest when we take our burdens to Him and allow Him to work in our lives.
The Good Shepherd Gives His Life for the Sheep: When tending to his father’s sheep, David fought with a lion or bear to save the sheep. David rescued the sheep from the lion’s mouth. He was not bothered about his life. David was a precursor to the LORD Jesus. Jesus was born in David’s tribe. He came to find the lost sheep and bring them back to the flock. Isaiah 40:11 says “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young”. This prophecy was fulfilled when Jesus ministered in this world. Jesus came to save humans from Satan, who pretends to be a roaring lion. As the Good Shepherd, Jesus did not hesitate to give His life to save humans from eternal death.
Sheep not of This Fold
In John 10:16 Jesus said, “other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd”. Jesus is referring to the Israelites when He says ‘this fold’. When Jesus ministered in this world, He said in Matthew 15:24, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel”. He told His disciples to “go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 10:6). It is true that Jesus came in the tribe of Judah to deliver and save Israel because they were His chosen people. But His own people rejected Him. John 1:11 says, “He came unto his own, and his own received him not.” When the chosen people rejected Jesus, salvation was extended to the gentiles. When Jesus was crucified on the cross, the Father’s will and the purpose of Jesus’ advent was fulfilled and His grace was extended to the whole world.
After resurrection, Jesus commanded His disciples to go and preach the Gospel throughout the world. He said in Mark 16:15, “Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature”. In Luke 24:47 He commanded “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem”. When the disciples and the apostles went out and preached the Gospel of repentance, the early church was established among the gentiles. When the other sheep or the gentiles accepted Jesus as their personal Saviour and washed their garments by the blood of the Lamb of God, they were brought into His fold. The apostles and disciples fulfilled Jesus’s vision of bringing sheep from other folds to Him.
In the past couple of months, we meditated on the various aspects of Lent. We meditated on the reason for the death, passion and resurrection of Jesus. We have celebrated the Resurrection of Jesus. The Good Shepherd laid down His life as the Passover Lamb to bring sheep to His flock – not only sheep from among the Israelites but all over the world. When He ministered in this world, He has spoken about His expectations on us. He has told us what we need to do to inherit eternal life. As the Good Shepherd, He guides us. Isaiah 30:21 says, “thine ears shall hear a word behind thee, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it, when ye turn to the right hand, and when ye turn to the left”. As the Good Shepherd, He gives us rest. He said in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest”. As the Good Shepherd, He gave us His Life. Hebrews 9:22 says, “almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission”. He offered Himself as the one-time sacrifice to redeem us by His precious blood.
Jesus did His part on the Cross. We read in John 10:3 and 4 “the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice”. Are we following the Good Shepherd? As the sheep of His fold, are we listening to His voice? Are we able to differentiate between His voice and other voices? Are we obeying the voice of the Good Shepherd Jesus? Or are we ignoring Him like the Israelites? If we listen and obey His voice, we will be in His fold as His sheep. The disciples and apostles took the Gospel of repentance throughout the world and brought people to Jesus’s flock. Are we taking the Gospel to those around us and bringing them to the Lord’s fold? Or are we turning a deaf ear to the Good Shepherd’s voice and scattering the sheep?
“O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the Lord our maker. For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:” but return unto “the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls” (Psalm 95:6–8, 1 Peter 2:25).
May the LORD Jesus guide, restore, preserve and protect us as the sheep of His fold. May we only hear the Good Shepherd’s voice and lead other sheep also to His fold. Amen!