I Know My Sheep

12 May 2019 – Fourth Sunday of Easter

At some point each week in worship, my [childhood] attention would drift from trying to understand the sermon to gazing at the Shepherd. From week to week he was a constant presence gazing back at me from his place in a magnificent stained glass window. The Shepherd I had come to know was larger than life; he was surrounded by sheep and nestled close to his heart was a tiny lamb. Sunday after Sunday this icon moved me beyond the pieces of brightly colored glass to a place of wonder, safety, and love as the Shepherd gathered me into his arms. –– Mark Adams

John 10:22-30

This selection is set in early winter during the Feast of Dedication (Hanuk- kah). Jesus once again is in the temple precincts at the Portico of Solomon. Here “the Jews” ask him to tell them clearly if he is the Messiah. Although Jesus refuses, his brothers request that he perform works to impress people in Judea (7:3–7), and he now declares that they have already been told since his works are his testimony (10:25).

While his claim to have already disclosed the response refers to an elusive answer (8:25b), Jesus now declares that they do not believe because they are not his sheep—they have not been graced by God to believe (10:29). They neither recognize his voice, nor does he recognize them and they do not follow him (10:27).

Jesus then affirms that he gives eternal life to those who follow him and that those who follow him will never perish. –– Regina A. Boisclair

Acts 9:36-43

Peter’s resuscitation of Tabitha was added into the Revised Common Lectionary because those charged with the revision were well aware that the existing three-year Sunday lectionaries suffered from amnesia in the anamnesis of the women in biblical stories. This story, following the account of Peter healing Aeneas, applies Luke’s pattern of juxtaposing stories of men with those of women.

Tabitha—also known as Dorcas—was a leading figure among the women who were Jesus’ disciples in Joppa. This resuscitation shows Peter following in the pattern of Jesus in his resuscitation of the son of the widow of Nain (Lk 7:11–17) since both have the reversal of an untimely death, and echoing the resuscitations of Elijah and Elisha. –– Regina A. Boisclair

Revelation 7:9-17

John experiences a vision of a great multitude . . . who stand before the throne of the Lamb dressed in white garments holding palm branches and crying: ‘‘Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!’’ . . . When an elder asks the seer the identity of those wearing the white robes, John tells the elder, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” The elder then explains that those wearing white robes are those who have . . . persevered through repentance and transformed their lives. They have endured the trials of life and survive in everlasting life. The reading does not imply that all must be martyrs. This reading concludes with . . . the Lamb who leads them to life-giving waters. –– Regina A. Boisclair

Mark Adams is superintendent of the Sierra Pacific Conference of the Free Methodist Church.

Regina Boisclair, a Roman Catholic biblical scholar, teaches at Alaska Pacific University, Anchorage, Alaska.

Homily Service 43, no. 2 (2009): 117-129.

David Turnbloom