For the 4th week of Easter we take a look at John 10: 1-10 (The Book of Common Prayer). Jesus launches into a beautiful metaphor for becoming a disciple of Christ. He starts by talking about sheep and shepherd. But, what Jesus is talking about is his followers and himself. Just last week my niece and myself rescued a 2-3 week old kitten—actually the story is my niece actually rescued another kitten just a few days before but that’s another story all together. She went from having one cat to now being the proud owner of three cats garnering her the title of being a crazy cat lady. My niece spent the night up feeding him with an infant nasal bulb syringe. The next day we took him to the SPCA to see what to do, how to tend to him. One of the workers said she was bottle feeding a small cat at the time and she would take him and bottle feed him and when he was ready we could pick him up.
Today she went to get the first cat who is around 6 weeks old his first shots. And while there we were told that the little kitten was ready to go home as he was eating wet food. So the ride home was quite the adventure with two kittens—one 6 weeks and one between 4 and 5 weeks. As we returned to the house and had supper she fed the little tyke; after he had eaten she called him and he turned and walk to her. He remembered who it was that saved him. He walked not to my mama; he didn’t walk to me; he walked to the one that saved him. He walked to the first one with whom he had human contact. Though I found him I couldn’t reach him, but she could.
He remembered his master. He knew the one he was to follow and go to. And that is what Jesus is stressing in this week’s passage. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out (John 10:3b). Her older cat will run to her also when she calls his name, but if I call him—or even get close to him he will flee! Jesus continues, “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of stranger (John 10:5). True followers of the Messiah will follow him. When they hear the voice of another one trying to get them to follow they will flee. They know his voice and they will flee from the voice of a stranger!
Jesus is the door through which the sheep, his followers—Christians, are to enter. He reminds us that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. But the Christ came that we might have life and have it abundantly (John 10: 10). Just like the little kitten knew where he was granted life, and now he will have it abundantly, the sheep of the Messiah are to know that it is Jesus where we have life and have it abundantly. They know the voice of Christ, their shepherd; they will flee from a stranger; the thief comes to steal and destroy while the Christ came to give life. It is said that the sheep know the voice of their master. He can call them out of a group of sheep where not all of them are his but only his will come. They know where they are fed; they know where they are protected from the strangers and thieves. A kitten of only 4 weeks old knows the voice of the one who saved him. Why do we struggle so much knowing the one that saves us? When the thief comes, the one that destroys—the temptations of life, do we flee?
When we celebrate the Eucharist we come into contact with that good Shepherd whose voice has called us. He calls us from the bread which is body broken for us; he calls from the wine, which is the New Covenant in his blood. We come into the presence of the living, resurrected savior, the good Shepherd, who calls us, protects us from the strangers who come to destroy. If a sheep and a 4 week old kitten can do it why do we struggle?
The Psalm this week is Psalm 23. The Lord is our Shepherd. We are to hear his voice and follow. And when the thief comes—the one that destroys—he will prepare us a table in the midst of our enemies. When we come into the presence of the risen Lord and partake of his body and blood, we hear his voice and follow; allow him to keep you safe from the thief that you might have life in abundance
Until next time may the good Lord bless and keep you; all y’all!