Fourth Sunday of Easter
Christ Is Our Good Shepherd
These are the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter.
(This Worship Help aligns with the lectionary readings from Christian Worship 1993 and Christian Worship: Supplement.)
God’s Word for This Week
Good Shepherd Sunday reminds us of the special relationship we enjoy with our Savior. Those whom he has called as his sheep readily recognize his care and concern. Even in suffering, his sheep experience his gracious care and follow him.
Traditional First Lesson – Acts 6:1-9; 7:2a,51-60
What qualifications did the church look for in the men it chose to assist the apostles? (See 6:3.)
They were to be men who were filled with the Spirit of God and wisdom.
What relationship existed between the ministry of the Word and the church’s ministry to those in need?
The ministry of the Word of God was clearly the primary task of the church, while the charitable programs were subordinated to that primary task. This is also borne out by the fact that the book of Acts returns to focus on the work of spreading the Gospel.
How were Stephen’s dying words like those of his Lord?
With stones crashing against his body, Stephen followed his Lord’s example by commending his soul into the Lord’s hands and asking for forgiveness for his persecutors.
Supplemental First Lesson – 1 Samuel 17:34-37
How does the shepherd David remind you of your Good Shepherd?
David shepherded his father’s flock in the wild country. He let no danger stop him from caring for his sheep. No law required a shepherd to fight lion and bear for the sake of the sheep. In fact, David’s and Christ’s words in John 10 are all the more striking because Rabbinic law made it clear that a shepherd was not called upon to expose his own life for the safety of his flock. David, a good shepherd, knew what he spoke of when he extolled the comfort of the Shepherd’s rod and staff in Psalm 23.
Traditional Second Lesson – 1 Peter 2:19-25
How does Peter identify Jesus with that of a shepherd?
Before we knew Christ, we were lost. We were wandering about as stray sheep with no one to care for us or look after us. But we now have a Shepherd. Sheep without a shepherd are doomed, vulnerable to any wild animals (1 Peter 5:8). But with Christ as our Shepherd we are safe. He is leading us toward our eternal home, always aware of our every condition.
Supplemental Second Lesson – Hebrews 13:20-21
What makes Jesus uniquely capable to be the one gate for the sheep? What is the result of us grasping the Easter miracle?
Only one gate leads to life eternal because only Christ provided the blood of the eternal covenant. As we sheep stand looking back at the Easter miracle, we are empowered and equipped to follow our Shepherd wherever he may lead.
Gospel – John 10:1-10
What is the relationship of the shepherd to his sheep?
Because of the hours of tender care, the shepherd would know each of his sheep by name. The shepherd knows the distinct personality of each. The sheep, on the other hand, would recognize the shepherd’s voice as he calls them by name. The sheep follow because they know the voice of the shepherd while wary of the strangers’ voice.
What does Jesus mean by likening himself to a gate for the sheep?
Jesus himself is the gate through which the shepherds must enter to get to their sheep. He is the one through whom the sheep must go in order to find good pasture. All who are truly shepherds (pastors, teachers, and staff ministers) are those who believe in him as their Savior and guide their sheep only by means of his Word.
True shepherds use the gate, preach Christ, and love the sheep. False shepherds refuse the gate, reject Christ, and destroy the flock.