I am The Good Shepherd.
Reading I: Acts 4:8-12
Responsorial Psalm: 118:1, 8-9, 21-23, 26, 28, 29
Reading II: 1 Jn 3:1-2
Gospel: Jn 10:11-18
Liturgical colour: White.
My dearest brothers and sisters in Christ,
Today, the 4th Sunday of Easter, is also known as Good Shepherd Sunday.
The Good Shepherd is the topic which our Holy Gospel is telling us about today.
Let us firstly look at today’s Gospel reading:
John 10:11-18 (NIV)
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
Let us take a closer look at what we being told in John 10:
Christ is telling us what it means for him to be our shepherd and for us to be his sheep in seven wonderful ways.
1. Christ has received you as a gift from the Father.
“My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:29)
Christ’s sheep are a gift that he receives from the Father.
Now how would you know if you are one of Christ’s sheep? How would you know if you have been given by the Father to the Son?
The identifying marks of Christ’s sheep are stated clearly in this verse: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (10:27). But what does it mean to hear his voice?
Jesus says earlier, “You do not believe because you are not among my sheep” (10:26). So it follows that believing is a distinguishing mark of the sheep given to the Son by the Father. Christ’s sheep hear his voice, they believe his Word, and they follow him.
So, if you believe and follow Jesus Christ, you are one of Christ’s sheep. You have been given by the Father to the Son.
2. Christ knows each and every one of us completely.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father…” (10:14-15)
Jesus Christ knows us all completely! There is never a time when we are ever a mystery to Christ.
In the Psalms we read, “The Lord knows our frame…” (Psalm 103:14). Christ knows our temperaments, our moods. He knows what lifts us up, and he knows what gets us down.
There is nothing any of us could ever tell Jesus about ourselves that he does not already know completely.
Here is the joy of following Jesus Christ. Because he knows us so completely, he is able to lead us effectively. The good shepherd knows exactly what we need, and he is able to give us what we need at precisely the time that we need it.
3. Christ gave himself for each and every single one of us.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.…I lay down my life for the sheep.”(John 10:11, 15)
This is something so very wonderful: The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Everything Jesus endured in his passion was for us. When he gave himself into the hands of the arresting party in the Garden of Gethsemane, it was for us. When he was scourged and beaten, it was for us. And when he was condemned to death, it was for us.. When he hung on that cross in agony, it was for us.
We must never ever forget that our Lord and Saviour, Jesus, chose to suffer and die for each one of us. This was not imposed on him. He gave himself willingly. “No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again” (10:18).
Jesus accomplished everything he had come to do and then he gave himself into death. And this is what he has done for us.
4. Christ called us and brought us to himself.
“And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.” (John 10:16)
How does he bring us to himself and make us his sheep? “He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (10:3). The sheep who are called by name in John 10:3 are the same sheep who enter by the door in John 10:9. And Jesus says, “I am the door.” Christ is the door, and “if anyone enters by the door, he will be saved”(10:9).
We each come through the door when we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. But when we believe, we will very quickly have an awareness that there was something going on beyond our believing. Somehow he called us. Somehow he brought us. He did not stand back and wait to see if we would come to him. Like the shepherd who went out to find the lost sheep, he laid us upon his shoulders and brought us back home.
5. Christ owns all of us and will never ever abandon us.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me…My sheep hear my voice…”(John 10:14, 27)
What a marvellous thing to be owned by the Son of God! The contrast here is with the hired hand. The hired hand “does not own the sheep” (10:12). The hired hand has no real investment in the flock. He shepherds the flock because he is paid to do so. The hired hand has to calculate whether it is worth the effort and risk of doing this job for what he gets paid. There is a point when the hired hand may say, “It’s just not worth it.” There are limits to his commitment.
Christ does not care for us because of what he can get out of us. That would be the spirit of the hired hand. Christ cares for us because we truly are his. There will never be a time when he will say, “we aren’t worth it.” He made us his own, at the cost of his life and, having made us his own, he will never leave us; he will never forsake us.
With such a shepherd committed to us for life, what do we indeed truly have to fear?
6. Christ gives us eternal life.
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish…” (John 10:28)
Jesus does not say, “I will give them eternal life at some time in the future.” He says, “I give them eternal life!” If Christ is indeed our shepherd, this precious gift of eternal life is already given to us.
And notice the word give. In other words, we did not earn this priceless gift.Eternal life is freely given by the shepherd and is freely received by his sheep, simply because he is the shepherd and we are the sheep.
The life Jesus gives is eternal. Eternal life, by definition, is a life that never ends, and if we have this life, it’s ours forever!
7. Christ guards us and will keep us forever.
“I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (John 10:28-29)
What reason do we have for confidence as a Christian when all the pressure of life stands against us? Can what is ours in Christ ever be taken away?
Christ’s sheep are in his hand. That’s the answer! And as if that wasn’t enough, our Lord adds, “No one is able to snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” (10:29-30).
The hand of Christ is beneath us, and the hand of the Father is above us. Thus we are forever safe and secure.
Are these things true of your life? Have you accepted the Lord as your Shepherd?
Let us pray:
O Lord Jesus Christ,
good Shepherd of the sheep,
you came to seek the lost
and gather them to your fold.
Have compassion on those who have wandered from you.
Feed those who hunger,
make the weary lie down in your pastures,
bind up those who are broken in heart,
and strengthen those who are weak,
that we rely on your care,
find comfort in your love,
and abide in your guidance to our lives’ end;
for your name’s sake.