The Risen One Shepherds Us
These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter.
God’s Word for This Week
Imagine if everyone on earth were a needle: there are well over six billion needles in a huge pile. How can God keep them all straight? How can God keep his eye on you in particular and hear your prayers? He has no trouble at all—and not only because he is Almighty. Jesus is your Good Shepherd. He knows you as well as he knows the Father, and as the Father knows you. That’s why he laid down his life for you.
Traditional First Lesson – Acts 13:15,16a,26-33
Just as with a good pastor’s sermons today, how do the synagogue rulers describe what they hope Paul and Barnabas will share with them?
“Brothers,” they say, “if you have a message of encouragement for the people, please speak.”
From what Psalm do Paul and Barnabas quote?
They quote from Psalm 2, showing that God has eternally been Father and Son. Jesus is that Son, born in time to Mary, yet also having no beginning. He has always been.
What do Paul and Barnabas say that God promised in the Old Testament?
Paul and Barnabas say that God promised clearly that his Son would rise from the dead.
Supplemental First Lesson – Ezekiel 34:25-31
In Ezekiel 34:23,24, God promises to have his eternal Son, Jesus, a direct descendant of King David, tend his flock and be their shepherd. Describe some of the wondrous results. (See 34:25-29.)
Some of the results: God’s people will not have to fear “wild beasts” (they will dwell in safety). They will have lots of fruit to eat. God will rescue them from slave masters. They will not suffer famine or the scorn of other nations.
What will God’s people know then? (See 34:30, 31.)
When all these blessings come, God’s people will know that he, the Lord their God, is with them and that they are his people.
Why does God repeat this? (Why is this so important?)
God reemphasizes that he will be our God and we will be his people, his flock, because our sin separates us from God and keeps us from being his sheep, his people. What grace that God would bring us back to him, all on his own! What eternal praise he deserves for his saving grace!
Second Lesson – Revelation 7:9-17
To whom do the people in heaven give the credit for the fact that they are there?
Heaven’s residents give all credit to God the Father and God the Son, the Lamb who laid down his life in our place.
Why, in John’s vision, do the people in heaven who are coming out of the great tribulation wear white robes?
The people in heaven had washed their robes and had miraculously made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
How many descriptions of life with Jesus before his throne does John give?
John gives ten descriptions of life before Jesus’ throne. Just as when we say, for example, “That was ten times better than I ever hoped,” ten is Revelation’s number for a large quantity. In other words, life before the throne couldn’t be more beautiful for all who follow the Lamb.
Gospel – John 10:22-30
What two testimonies should have convinced Jews of Jesus’ day that he really is the Son of God?
a) Jesus’ repeated statements about his relationship with the Father and b) his miracles both testify that Jesus is the Son of God.
What great comfort does Jesus give to people who, like sheep, are prone to wander?
Jesus assures us that no one can snatch us out of his hand. He will keep us trusting in him as we keep hearing his voice—the voice of our Shepherd.