Hear My Voice

sarah-in-her-dads-handThe lectionary provides an incredibly helpful catechetical pattern by which to teach the faith. The first half of the church year, as you know, focuses on the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus and answers the question, “Who is Jesus?” The second half focuses on his ministry and teaching and answers the follow up question, “What does it mean to follow Jesus?” So here we are in Easter and we have before us a portion of Jesus’ discourse on the good shepherd. Except it’s not, exactly!
It’s actually three months later, during Hanukah (the festival of Dedication), and Jesus is still talking about sheep and shepherds. No wonder, then, that his conversation partners ask, with a translation that probably reflects the common idiom more closely, “How long will you keep on irritating us with this? If you think you are the Messiah, then say it plainly.” In response, Jesus says two very interesting things: 1) he has no need to testify on his own behalf as his works have already done that; 2) his interrogators do not (cannot, will not?) believe because they are not his sheep – he knows his sheep and will not lose them.
On the Fourth Sunday of Easter, we might hear these statements in at least two ways. First, we might hear them as a promise that Jesus knows us — who we are and what we need.Second, we might also hear that there is no testimony to our resurrection faith more powerful than doing the works that Jesus did: healing, comforting, freeing, feeding. After all, if Jesus says that his works testify to his identity, will not ours do the same? Easter reminds us that when we sacrifice ourselves for others, we are never alone; the Good Shepherd is always with us, holding us tightly in his hand.