Word to the Wise

Monday, April 23, 2018 - 4th Week of Easter - Mon

[Acts 11:1-18 and John 10:1-10]

MONDAY, APRIL 23, 2018 MONDAY IN THE FOURTH WEEK OF EASTER [Acts 11:1-18 and John 10:1-10] “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly. [John] The Gospel According to John, unlike the other three gospels, has very few “parables.” Scripture scholars argue about the definition of a parable, but I think I am on safe ground when I say that a parable takes an image from everyday life and uses it to teach about something less tangible, such as faith or a moral principle. In the Gospel According to John, the Parable of the Good Shepherd does that rather thoroughly. Jesus takes an everyday shepherding practice and uses it to teach about himself and his mission. In Palestine, even now, a single village may feature more than one flock of sheep, but only one corral for nighttime security. How can the individual shepherds figure out which sheep belongs to which shepherd? That is remedied by individual vocal calls that are recognized by the sheep belonging to each shepherd. At the beginning of the day, each shepherd comes to the gate and makes that call and those sheep belonging to him separate out and follow him. The corral has only one gate and the gatekeeper usually sleeps in front of it, literally laying down his life! This description sets the stage for the parable. Jesus identifies himself not only as the shepherd but also as the gate! This is reinforced by “Amen, amen..” statements. Jesus offers a relationship of trust in this parable. He is the safe way to pasture, and it is his call that we believers respond to. Both elements of the Good Shepherd image lead to the very familiar words at the end of today’s gospel segment: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” The shepherd image will continue tomorrow. The lectionary and the calendar this year break it up a bit, but we have more than enough to consider. Stay tuned! AMEN

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