Tuesday, May 8, 2012

“The Good Shepherd” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday May 13, 2012

Purpose: To find comfort and guidance in the image of the shepherd

Scripture Text: John 10:7-18

John 10:7-18 (NRSV)
(7) So again Jesus said to them, "Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. (8) All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. (9) I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. (10) The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. (11) "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (12) The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. (13) The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. (14) I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, (15) just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep.(16) I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. (17) For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. (18) No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father."

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

As was often the case Jesus not only addresses the crowd that is present, he also was enlightening those scholars that were present. Compare Jesus words and those of the prophet Ezekiel (Ezekiel: 34:11-12) For thus says the Lord God: I myself will search for my sheep, and will seek them out. As shepherds seek out their flocks when they are among their scattered sheep, so I will seek out my sheep. I will rescue them from all the places to which they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness”. And earlier in Ezekiel 34: (2) Mortal, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel: prophesy, and say to them—to the shepherds: Thus says the Lord God: Ah, you shepherds of Israel who have been feeding yourselves! Should not shepherds feed the sheep?

Jesus had harsh words for the group of leaders that had been leading the Jews worldwide for six centuries, namely the Pharisees, the Sadducee, and the Essenes . He considered them robbers and thieves. They did not shepherd the flock, they profited by being a hired hand. They had been feeding themselves and not the sheep.

Jesus continues to compare himself with those hired to lead, Jesus knows his sheep and those that respond to the voice of Jesus are saved. Sheep are led, and they follow a voice that they recognize.

Verse 16 offers some interesting speculation; I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. While most commentators believe this verse is referring to the Gentiles, it does leave room for much speculation such as colonies on other planets in God's creation that may be unknown to us. (Just saying)

Notice that Jesus is loved by the Father because of his willingness to lay down his life for the flock, or you could say Jesus is loved by the Father because of “obedience.” We too must put ourselves in that same place where we choose to do the right thing even though we have the power to choose not to do the right thing. Obedience is the bond between the Father and the Son, and we can join in that fellowship, when we choose to obey God's call to each of us.

The perfect harmony that occurs between the Father and Son was not a happenstance, it was a plan created together before creation. We too can enjoy that perfect harmony by living the life of abundance referred to in verse 10. When we respond positively to the voice of the Good Shepherd the abundant life begins.

If Jesus is the Good Shepherd, what are we called to be?

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