Tag Archives: John 11

April 26, 2015 (Year B, Easter 4) Celtic Meditation

John 10:11-18

In this short passage, Jesus twice refers to himself as the Good Shepherd and three times tells his disciples that he, as the Good Shepherd,[1] lays down his life for his people.

Jesus begins this parable by explaining the difference between the hired shepherd and the true shepherd of the flock. The hired shepherd does not defend the sheep from danger but seeks his own safety first. In contrast, the true shepherd of the flock is so invested in the well-being of the flock that he will risk his own life for the flock. From this metaphor, Jesus explains that he, out of his care for his people, willingly sacrifices his own life for our safety. While we, as Christians, are called to imitate Christ, sometimes we forget our place in this parable. In what ways do we, as church, attempt to serve the world in the place of the Good Shepherd rather than as the sheep who are loved by the Good Shepherd?

Jesus’ identity is based upon God the Father knowing him and his knowing the Father. Part of this knowing between God the Father and God the Son is the knowledge that the Son will lay down his life for the people of God. Just as Jesus’ identity is based upon the mutual knowing and being known by God the Father, our identity as Christians is based upon being known by Jesus and knowing Jesus. In this parable of the Good Shepherd, this knowing looks like sheep listening to their Shepherd. The sheep respond to the Shepherd’s voice, not the “bleating of other sheep,”[2] and are joined into one flock. How can we, the non-Jewish fold of sheep[3] known as the church, offer a place where others can join us to hear Jesus’ voice as we worship and serve?

The Son of God is loved by God because, as the Good Shepherd, he lays down his life in order to take it up again. Our Good Shepherd chose to give his life for the sake of us sheep, not merely as a sacrifice, but also as demonstration of his power that he exercises on behalf of his people. This act of power is not only approved by God the Father, but it is integral to God’s plan of salvation. What does it look like for us, the sheep of the Good Shepherd, to demonstrate to ourselves and others that we recognize and trust the Good Shepherd’s power to die and to rise from the dead?

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[1] For a detailed analysis of the development of this metaphor of God as the true shepherd of God’s people, see Andreas J. Köstenberger’s “Jesus the Good Shepherd Who Will also Bring Other Sheep (John 10:16): the Old Testament Background of a Familiar Metaphor,” Bulletin for Biblical Research 12.1 (2002): 67-96.

[2] Philip E. Thompson, “John 10:11-18,” Interpretation, 51 no 2 April 1997, 185.

[3] The “this fold” sheep refers to the Jews; the “sheep that don’t belong to this fold” refers to Gentile believers. What is shared in parable will be revealed fully after Jesus’ resurrection.

© 2015 Donna R. Hawk-Reinhard, All Rights Reserved

March 22, 2015 (Year B Lent 5) Celtic Meditation

John 12:20-33

On his way to Jerusalem for what will be his last Passover, Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead; has been anointed by Lazarus’ sister, Mary, in what Jesus accepts as a pre-burial anointing; and has triumphantly arrived in Jerusalem. As the Passover approaches, Greeks, non-Jewish people, who were attracted to the God worshiped by the Jews, desire to see Jesus.[1] Jesus accepts this recognition from non-Jews as a sign that the hour for his glorification has come. Greek philosophy prized the good life and these Greeks must have heard something about Jesus that indicated that the good life was in him. But this good life is not what the ruler of the world offered then and continues to offer. The ruler of this world offers money, power, prestige, food and things as life, but this is not life that really satisfies. Jesus explains the paradoxical way of true life, eternal life, from an agricultural example.[2] Individual seeds die in order to produce fruit. Jesus was called to really die so that all might really live. Those who follow Jesus are called to die to the life the ruler of the world offers in order to really live. In what ways do we continue to seek after the things offered by the world rather than doing the hard work of following Jesus by living into our baptismal vows of turning from the ways that do not give life?

The work of dying for the sake of the world is not something that Jesus has looked forward to. Yet, the audible answer to his prayer is not for his comfort.[3] For the sake of the Greeks who represent the non-Jewish people of the world as well as Jesus’ disciples, God the Father audibly responds to Jesus’ prayer that the name of God be glorified. When have we, as church, heard the voice of God not for our sake, but for the sake of others?

When Jesus is lifted up, he draws all people to himself. God’s name is glorified at the crucifixion. With the scent of the anointing for his death probably still lingering about him, Jesus knew that he first had to suffer pain before he could enter into joy and his glorification.[4] Yet, in these Greeks who came to see him, Jesus saw the beginnings of the fruit of his death.[5] As followers of Jesus, what are we doing as a church community that demonstrates to us and to those around us that we are living fruit produced by Jesus’ death?

© 2015 Donna R. Hawk-Reinhard, All Rights Reserved

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[1] For a detailed discussion of why the Greeks were not expected to respond and how the coming of the Greeks affected Jesus, see John A. Davis, “The Desire of the Nations—John 12:20-22,” The Reformed Theological Review, 69 no 3 (2010): 151-163.

[2] Last week, we heard the explanation of Jesus’ death on the cross from a Jewish perspective, using the history of the Jewish people to explain that when Jesus is lifted up from the earth on the cross, those who know they are dying from sin and trust God for healing through Jesus’ death, will be made alive.

[3] This is the second time in two chapters that Jesus explains that the purpose of a supernatural event was for the sake of those around him so that they could believe and make sense of what is to come. For the sake of Jesus’ disciples, Lazarus was raised from the dead (John 11:15-44) so that they would know that Jesus is the life-giver (John1:1-4, John 11:25-26), the one through whom the glory of God is revealed (John 11:40).

[4] Book of Common Prayer, Morning Prayer, collect for Friday.

[5] Richard L. Jeske, “John 12:20-36,” Interpretation 43 no 3 (1989): 292-295.