Faithlife Sermons

Fourth Sunday of Easter

Easter  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, Lays Down His Life for the Sheep

Seven week structure (West) where you have seven weeks of Easter; 1) resurrection, 2) believing without seeing, 3) Jesus shares meal, as he invites us in the Eucharist, 4) Good Shepherd (today), 5) through Jesus to the Father, 6) life in the Godhead, 7) Jesus our Intercessor

Acts 4.5-12
Acts 4:5–12 RSVCE
On the morrow their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a cripple, by what means this man has been healed, be it known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by him this man is standing before you well. This is the stone which was rejected by you builders, but which has become the head of the corner. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Feasting has a lot of good material, some is squishy but some is ok even good, for example, the writer who said that their (Peter and John) task was difficult because they weren't just upsetting the Sadduccees but the Romans who didn't want tumult in the city. By now there were 5,000 believers. Peter handles it by focusing on God and putting the verbs in the passive. What were we to do but to let ourselves be used by God to demonstrate His power?
Psa 23
Psalm 23 RSVCE
A Psalm of David. The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters; he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil; for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of my enemies; thou anointest my head with oil, my cup overflows. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
(alternate Psa 118.1-2, 19-29 but we read that in liturgy of the palms, just make the point that Jesus is the chief cornerstone) Feasting T says that when we read "the darkest valley" it connects to the part of the Apostle's Creed where it says that Jesus was "suffered under Pontius Pilate, he was crucified, died and was buried." Things look pretty bleak at that snapshot in time. That same writer challenges us to hear the psalm being read by Jesus, even as he is about to be betrayed where he prays "Abba Father, make this cup of suffering pass from me, nevertheless, let your will be done." And to make a powerful third point, this same author says that when we see the still waters and the shepherd leading his sheep, this picture is idyllic, but really this is only part of the picture. There are dark valleys. FP says that goodness and mercy chasing us down is like God cleaning up our messes behind us, but we don't have to be ignorant of him being behind us. FE focuses on what we really need, food, water, a path to travel plus places to rest and be renewed and to be refreshed. He emphasizes darkest valley in Hebrew is tsalmaveth, and that word occurs at least seven times in Job, which in the NLT is often "deepest gloom." FH says that "fear of evil" is almost the same as the "shadow of death." FH also says that whereas all other people return to the dust, Jesus, though he died, rose only three days later so there was no body and no dust. By entering the tomb, Jesus in a sense entered earth's womb. And finally FH says that by dying Jesus passed through death and its shadow, so now he is Lord over it all.
1Jo 3.16-24
1 John 3:16–24 RSVCE
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren. But if any one has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not love in word or speech but in deed and in truth. By this we shall know that we are of the truth, and reassure our hearts before him whenever our hearts condemn us; for God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and we receive from him whatever we ask, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we should believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. All who keep his commandments abide in him, and he in them. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit which he has given us.
Feasting helps us focus on the opening words of 1 John. We know the theme is real love, but listen to the whole phrase, "We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us." Feasting calls this "love in action."
Joh 10.11-18
John 10:11–18 RSVCE
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice. So there shall be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again; this charge I have received from my Father.”
Feasting Theological says this passage brings ethics that ties the theology and the non-material of the Trinity with the practical and observable and material ministry of the Church. Melanchthon said that a pastor can be thought of a Shepherd but it is really Christ because even when, if we focus on preaching here, the pastor is giving a sermon, his words ultimately are from God so God and Jesus are still the Shepherd.
Related Media
Related Sermons