Episcopal Church in Minnesota

Environmental Stewardship Commission
Lectionary Reflection
Year A, Easter 4, Gospel Lesson

John 10: 1-10

Jesus said, "Very 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. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers." Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So again Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly."

Reflection on John 10: 1-10
by John Gibbs, Ph D

"Becoming People Who Are Safe for the World" (Sheep of the Shepherd)

Our lectionary carries the Shepherd theme, and the theme of God the Provisioner of the People, onward from Psalm 23 and Nehemiah 9 into the Gospel reading. Here a contrast is drawn between the true Shepherd who brings "life" beyond measure, and a thief/bandit/stranger who steals, kills, and destroys.

Sheep recognize the shepherd's voice that "calls his own sheep by name," and on that account they follow him. Messianic pretenders, on the other had, have no such rapport with the "sheep." The true Messiah, then, not only goes before us to lead, but also becomes "the gate" of entrance into God's fold.

What is husk, and what is kernel? That used to be the big question in biblical studies. Often it turned out that "the medium is the message." So in this case, the graphic rural imagery is so much part of the essential message that the latter is hardly the same without those concrete specific images. To such an extent creation and redemption are interwoven in real life.

To Reflections on other Readings for this Sunday:
Old Testament
Nehemiah 9:6-15
Psalm 23
New Testament
1 Peter 2:19-25 or 
Acts 6:1-9; 7:2a, 51-60
John 10:1-10
this page

John Gibbs, PhD, a retired theologian, attends Trinity Episcopal Church, Park Rapids, MN.   He originally wrote this reflection in 2002.  He and we welcome your comments. Please address your comments or additional reflections to John Gibbs or any MEESC member, or mail them to:
c/o C. Morello
4451 Lakeside Drive
Eveleth, MN 55743-4400 USA

The MEESC assumes that all correspondence received is for publication on this web site. If your comments are not for publication, please so note on your correspondence. The MEESC reserves the right to decide which items are included on the web site.

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