Year A Easter 4 John 10 2011
A Shepherd to Lead Us
Now let us travel 3000 miles to Israel. In towns very familiar to us because they are biblical towns there is a war going on in the streets. The two sides are deeply religious and yet they are at each other's throats. Even the children there are abused and used as human bombs.
People are saying in Palestine, Jerusalem, Kabul, and in towns all over the east that something is wrong. Why has the religious leadership failed?
Leadership. We all want good leadership. Good shepherds to lead us in and out of green pasture. We vote hoping to elect it, we apply for jobs hoping to work for it, and we go to school hoping to be educated by it. But we do not always find it. The trust we place in our leaders can be broken. So what are we to do? John 10 holds the answer.
Let us ask three questions and see how Jesus answers them.
- What are the needs of the sheep?
- What are the traits of a bad shepherd?
- What are the traits of a good shepherd?
From Temple to Table
John 10:1 10
As the "wilderness" continues to shrink, the highly populated suburbs weirdly become the new "edges" of civilization. Why else would coyotes have become the greatest danger for small dogs and cats? Why else would deer have replaced moles, grubs, and crabgrass as the biggest landscaping challenge all over suburbia?
The only thing worse than having all your flowers nipped off by marauding Bambi's is the absolutely abhorrent smell of deer repellent. To keep deer from munching down your roses, pansies, zinnia's or cosmos, you now have to willingly endure a certain degree of . . . what shall we call it? Stink! Stench! Wretchedness!
It goes by the formal name of "deer repellent." But it a noxious, nasty smelling nostrum, made up of something called "blood meal" and some form of "tough guy" animal urine (you know like cougars, wolves, coyotes, repo guys). It smells disgusting — almost unbearable to humans for the first twelve hours. The good news? It smells disgusting to deer for two to three weeks. The bad news? It smells like Tom Ford Tuscan Leather to dogs. So if you are putting out deer repellant and have dogs, you have to make a choice: More munched flowers, or stupendously stinky dogs sleeping under your bed. What the deer smell as repellant, the dogs believe is canine cologne. So if you have dogs, and flowers, and deer, stock up on both deer repellant and dog shampoo. You will need lots of both.
In today's text, Jesus uses similar familiar information to carry a new message to his listening audience. After bringing sight to a man blind from birth, you would think everyone is now lauding Jesus as a great, miraculous healer. But no. Instead the healed man was subjected to an inquisition and then ultimately was rejected and thrown out of his synagogue because he had been healed by Jesus. Who was it who first said, "No good deed goes unpunished"?
Today's text is offered in the aftermath of that fiasco. It declares that Jesus' way is THE WAY, that Jesus is THE GATE, and that all other attempts to approach safety, to apply for "salvation" and to live THE LIFE are bad entrances. They and all other ways offer "no access," no "gateway" to the good way...