You can see all the lectionary readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year B by clicking here. I have chosen to discuss the passage from the Gospel of John.
In today’s passage, Jesus describes himself as the good shepherd, who gives his life for the sheep. He contrasts the good shepherd with a hired hand who doesn’t really care about the sheep and runs away if a wolf comes to attack.
Jesus says he cares for the sheep and knows them as the Father knows him. The sheep also know him as he knows the Father, and he gives his life for the sheep. He also says he has other flock outside this flock to lead. Finally he says,
“No one takes my life away from me. I give my own life freely. I have the right to give my life, and I have the right to get it back again. This is what the Father told me.”
Did Jesus actually predict his own death? Or is that a later claim by his followers as their theology developed? Bible scholars say perhaps not. But I think the importance for us right now is to see what John is trying to tell us in this passage. How great is this love Jesus has for us? We are beloved and cared for like family. We are precious and important to God, not mere useless animals. We need to see ourselves and our fellow humans as beloved members of the family. What a different world it would be if we could have that understanding and see as God sees.
I see people (especially in political discussions) belittling others who disagree with them as “sheeple”. But none of us are sheeple. We are all beloved children of God, and it’s heartbreaking to see some of God’s children belittling and dehumanizing one another (whether calling them sheeple or in other ways). It can be hard to love people. It can be so damn hard. But it’s what we are called to do if we are to be like Jesus.