April 30, 2023

MESSAGE – Fourth Sunday of Easter – A – 30 April 2023

MESSAGE – Fourth Sunday of Easter – A – 30 April 2023


HAPPY EASTER IN YOU! How are we living the resurrection? This week the readings offers a wonderful and rich connection of ideas. In this season of the resurrection, the life of Christ is still uppermost in our minds, and Jesus’ promise that he has come to give life is at the heart of our reflections. The rest of the Gospel, though, and the other readings, all reflect on how life is lived when the care and compassion of God direct us. 

sheep and Shepherd,  suffering and care,  life and togetherness in the community of faith  

Psalm 23: Providing all for us 

(1) want and provision, (2) rest and activity, (3) fear and comfort, and (4) danger and security. 

– we are drawn into recognising that the life Christ offers us is always shared. If we are to know the reality of the resurrection, we will discover it as we care for one another and share life in mutual compassion and protection. 

What do we do? 

This passage describes what happened in response to Peter’s first sermon.  In verse 42, we see four characteristics of the community life of the church, i.e. devotion to (1) the apostles’ teaching, (2) fellowship, (3) the breaking of bread, and (4) the prayers. 

The word in Greek for “fellowship” is koinonia, which means a shared and common life.  We see characteristics of this common life by “all who believed” in the rest of the passage, in that they were together, had all things in common, spent much time together, and so forth (vv.44-46).  It is possible that “the breaking of bread” is a double entendre, that is, it could refer to both the Eucharist and to common meals.  Regarding the former, we are reminded of what happened in Luke 24, where the eyes of the followers were not opened until Jesus had “broken the bread” (vv.31, 35).  Regarding the latter, we see them “[breaking] bread at home” and eating their food with “glad and generous hearts…” (v.46). 

I am the gate. (John 10:9) 

The “I am” sayings of John 10 provide personal and meaningful images of who Jesus is in relation to his people. Many of us live quite apart from the common farm images in the New Testament. Perhaps we can imagine Jesus as a shepherd. Jesus as a door, however, may be a challenge. To our ears a door pictures vertical planks hung that swing open and shut. It seems rather impersonal until you know what first-century people knew. 

Sheep were led out to pastures by day and brought into the sheepfold each night. The sheepfold was a circular stone-wall enclosure with a shoulder-wide opening for the sheep to enter and exit. There was no physical door. The shepherd himself stood in the gap. Each sheep entered by passing between his legs. The shepherd’s hands moved over every sheep to find where there might be wounds from the day’s journey. Any injury would be treated with oil to cleanse, soothe, and heal. During the night, the shepherd laid himself across the opening to keep the sheep safe. How beautiful! 

Notice once again the wide open invitation of Jesus in verse 9, “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” Are you bruised by life’s difficulties? Have you wandered far from the fold? Are your wounds throbbing? Come to Jesus. In him is healing and life. Of the Lord, King David sang, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows” (Ps. 23:5). 

As you pray, ask Jesus to heal your wounds. 

The essential message is clear – the life of Jesus is given and received by mutual care, compassion and protection. The resurrection does not offer some individualised, blissful life. Rather, it calls us into a life that is shared with others who follow Christ, to whom we belong and for whom we are responsible, even as they as are called to care for us. It is only together – in community – that Christ’s life can be known and enjoyed.  

Blessings as we live into the power of Christ’s resurrection. 

Rev Tania