Year B Fourth Sunday of Easter

John 10: 11 – 18

Lord help us to realise  that to read the gospel with an open mind is to see beyond all possibilities of doubt that You, Jesus, came to bring us, not only a new life, but also, a new power of acting upon our world.

It is true, that the development of the world can be influenced by our faith in Christ, then Lord, let this power flow through your Word to us and though us to others.

We need to look back at Chapter 9 to understand the context in which John places the teaching about the Good Shepherd.  (Jn10: 1-10; 11-18; 27-30)

Chapter 9

Jesus is the central character.  On the one side of him is the blind man who Jesus cured.  He represents the flock who have heard the voice of the shepherd and come to him.  On the other side are the authorities.  They did nothing to help the blind man, and when he did find help they drove him out.  It is into this uncaring, hostile situation that John inserts the “Good Shepherd” teaching, and what a contrast it is!

READ

Now read the text from your bible, slowly and attentively, a number of times.  Try reading it out loud to yourself so that you can listen to it.  This often helps us to a better understanding of the text.

Did you notice that the story starts with:

10I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.

Jesus comes into this world so that life will become so much easier.  He did not come to make it harder; more rules to keep; more obligations.  No!  He came so that we would be able to live better, kinder, more useful lives.

18 .. this is the command I have been given by my Father.

* * * * * *

In chapter 9 we saw Jesus’ way of doing things compared to the behaviour of the authorities.  The same comparison is made in this text.  We see the attitude of the “Good Shepherd”, compared to that of the “hired man.”

Note the stark contrast between Jesus (Good Shepherd) and the authorities (the hired man).

“Jesus lays down his life for his sheep.”  We can express this in a number of ways.

He devotes his life to us.

The Good Shepherd brings life to his sheep (us).

Jesus invites us to share to share his close relationship with this Father.

Jesus devotes his whole life to ‘my having life to the full’.

His Father has given him a command, a commission, to reveal God and thus save the world. He accepted this command and was faithful to it to the end. 1

He cares for us.

In contrast we have those who are ‘hired”.

They do not recognise that the sheep are their concern.

They abandon.

They run away and scatter instead of helping and building up people.

They make life harder, rather than, making serving God a joyful experience.

Who are we going to follow?

* * * * * *

In the middle of this reading we have a most important teaching.

14I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, 15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for my sheep. 

16And there are other sheep I have that are not of this fold, and these I have to lead as well.  They too will listen to my voice, and there will be only one flock, and one shepherd.

We have just compared the Good Shepherd (Jesus) with the hired man (the authorities)

Now we are again reminded that:

14I am the good shepherd;”

Jesus is the Good Shepherd.

God is the Good Shepherd.

15just as the Father knows me and I know the Father”

(Knowing in the Bible is a deep, intimate, committed relationship.)

We are called into the very same relationship with Jesus as he has with his Father.  We are invited to know the Father and Jesus.  This means that Jesus wants us to enjoy a special friendship with him and the Father.

Here are a few questions to help you reflect on your God:

Do I really know God?

What do I know about God?

Describe what you believe about God; not just what somebody has told you, but what you have experienced about God.

Here is a description of God from Luke’s Gospel. Lk 6: 36 – 38

36Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

37Don’t be a judge of others and you will not be judged;

do not condemn and you will not be condemned;

Forgive and you will be forgiven;

                    38Give and it will be given to you, and you will receive in your sack good               measure, pressed down, full and running over.

Makes your think!!

In the second part, verse 16, we are reminded that following Jesus is not the exclusive right of the few.  Jesus is quite emphatic that ALL are called.  All humanity is called to union with our God.  A God who places no limits on his love.  Jesus shares this love with us and sends us out to share it with others.

* * * * * *

Our prayer and reflection can be summed up in the following scripture texts:

10I have come so that they may have life and have it to the full.

this is the command I have been given by my Father. (and I give it to you)

13: 34 – 35

I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you should love one another.

Surely this is another of the keys to the Kingdom of God. Mt 16: 19

1               Fallon M;  The Gospel According to John,  p 198