Read Psalm 23, Revelation 7:9-17, and John 10:22-30.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. (Psalm 23:1)
If the Lord is to be your shepherd, you must be his sheep.
If the Lord is your shepherd, he will care and provide for your every need. He
- brings you to green pastures where you may eat and lie down,
- provides cool, quiet water for you to drink,
- leads you by the paths that are best for you,
- protects you in the darkest valley,
- brings you back into the fold with his staff,
- gives you every good gift,
- gives you a place to live in his presence forever.
Then you will sing with the angels and the living creatures and the elders, with every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, “worthy is the Lamb that was slain,” “To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb, be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!”
Is the Lord your shepherd? Are you his sheep? He says that his sheep may be identified in this way: they hear and know his voice. They come when called. Do you hear his voice? Do you know his call? When he calls, do you follow?
The sheep of a shepherd don’t
- determine their own path
- worry about food or drink or danger
- follow the many strange voices they hear, but only his voice
To be his sheep, you must meet the conditions. You must give up self-determination. You will be led, at times perhaps to places you may not want to go, except that you trust your shepherd. You give up self-seeking, for food or drink or protection, and gratefully accept what your shepherd provides. You leave your care to your shepherd. You give up listening to different voices, deciding which to follow. You follow your shepherd implicitly.
You will not be responsible for your own spiritual life. You do not try to measure your progress or fix yourself or feed yourself. You eat what is given to you. You put your care entirely in the hands of your shepherd.
You replace anxiety (or self-confidence) with trust.
Here, now, at this moment, once and forever, cede control of self. Leave care of yourself to your loving shepherd, who gives his life for his sheep. Be at peace. Rest by quiet waters in green pastures. Rejoice!
Lord Jesus Christ, good shepherd, I place myself entirely in your care. Wherever you lead, even into dark valleys, I will follow. What you provide I will eat. When you need to shear me or wash me, I’ll be calm. In your green pastures I will rest.
Fourth Sunday of Easter, Year C