4th Sunday of Easter

by Bear Wade

TO WHOM DO YOU LISTEN?
John 10:1-10
(Fourth Sunday of Easter)
analysis by Robin Morgan


1Very 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. 2The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”


DIAGNOSIS: Listening to the Wrong Voices

Step 1 – Initial Diagnosis: Hearing the Voices of Thieves and Bandits
Voices abound, speaking about abundance in the lives of the world’s sheep, even Jesus’ sheep. Everywhere we turn another voice is calling to us, offering us a way, a gate into that life for which the voice knows we have been longing. “Here is the way to financial security. Of course you know how important it is to assure your future and the future of your family, don’t you?” “No, no it’s much more important to climb the ladder, to get above the fuss and bother of the daily grind, to the rarefied air which only top executives are able to breathe. This is the door.” “Why bother with the rat race? Let go of the stress. See the palm trees through this gate? Feel the breeze? Just step through into another world.” Voices abound and the sheep are listening.

Step 2 – Advanced Diagnosis: Tell Me More
But the sheep have a hearing problem. Though no one has “ear lids,” the very fact that the sheep are listening to other voices, considering other gates signals a deeper malady, a faithless struggle in the heart of each one who listens and ponders what they have heard. Even, or maybe especially, those who have heard Jesus’ voice again and again, stop and listen to a new voice that offers another way into the pasture. Though Jesus offers abundant life, we tend to wish for a quicker, less strenuous way into the pasture. After all, that other voice doesn’t sound like a thief, she seems very sincere. He doesn’t sound like a bandit, he said he’s only concerned with our spiritual welfare. How can we turn down such offers?

Step 3 – Final Diagnosis: The Voice Speaks
Having listened to other voices and following false shepherds through other gates, we are climbing into the sheepfold other ways. Yet God will not let such deal-making go unnoticed, “Why have you listened to other voices? Sheep need a true shepherd to guide them to the gate into pasture and abundant life. Yet you have turned from my ways.” And so it is little wonder that God, in his judgment, leaves us to our choices: to our ripped clothes from climbing the fence rather than entering through his gates; to the emptiness of discovering the other voice lied and could not make good on its promise; to the silence in the midst of the myriad voices which have enticed us and drawn us far from our God and his fold.

PROGNOSIS: Hearing the Voice of the Shepherd

Step 4 – Initial Prognosis: The Voice that Acts on our behalf
John begins his gospel with the Word, the living Word sent into the world by God because of the vast love which God has for each of us and for all creation. This Word is not only the message, not only a Voice that speaks to us through his life, death on the cross and resurrection: “I am the gate for the sheep.” It is Voice in Jesus that acts on our behalf, “going out ahead of us” even to the point of laying down his own life – his own credit, if you will – to give to the sheep. The Voice, which is Jesus, loves his sheep. Through his own actions of love and laying down his life, he guides them through the gateway to eternal life – a gateway which had been shut between us and God, a severed tie which we were unable to heal (and which we even had trouble understanding as severely broken). Because of him, we who have strayed in so many ways, can enter through the Cross-shaped Gate into the Father’s arms.

Step 5 – Advanced Prognosis: Voice Over
Over the din rises his call to his sheep and it is now Jesus’ Voice to which our ears dare to listen. Though other voices still abound, we tune to his Voice that calls us to enter into the Gate, to go in and out and find pasture. The sheep will not follow a stranger because they do not know the stranger’s voice. We will hear the other voices, we can’t avoid them, but once we have gone through the Cross-shaped Gate into the true Shepherd’s arms, we can distinguish His Voice from all the rest. Our ears are receptive to his call. His Voice reaches into the lonely places of our hearts where the worldly din has never soothed or nurtured. And what is it about his Voice that is so distinguishable? It is a Voice that knows us each by name, and calls us each by name, for it is for each of us – by name – that he lives, dies, and rises. Our names are woven into the identity of the Shepherd.

Step 6 – Final Prognosis: Look Who’s Talking Now
In fact, now that we can hear his Voice even through the continuous chatter of everyday life, we get the high and holy privilege of being shepherds ourselves. We point to the Gate; we help others navigate the airwaves to the only true Voice who love continues to make a way to the Father where there had been no way. We are, through our Shepherd, shepherds in sheep’s clothing – not hustling, nor shouting, but offering ourselves in service to others who are stumbling through the din. We know what it’s like to wonder if we can really hope to find the Gate into abundant life. So when we see another struggling to find her way, we can speak. “Listen, do you hear Him? He knows your name. He’s saying ‘I am the gate.’ Take my hand, and we’ll go together.”

Author

About Us

In the early 1970s two seminary professors listened to the plea of some lay Christians. “Can you help us live out our faith in the world of daily work?” they asked. “Can you help us connect Sunday worship with our lives the other six days of the week?”  That is how Crossings was born.

 

The Crossings Community, Inc. welcomes all people looking for a practice they can carry beyond the walls of their church service and into their daily lives. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, or gender in any policies or programs.

What do you think of the website and publications?

Send us your feedback!

Site designed by Unify Creative Agency

We’d love your thoughts…

Crossings has designed the website with streamlined look and feel, improved organization, comments and feedback features, and a new intro page for people just learning about the mission of Crossings!