Easter 4B


Voice in the Wilderness:Nicole Cox

Featured Musician:Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

PSALMIST: Richard Bruxvoort Colligan

Tasty Wafer: TNS 5-6: Diana Butler Bass!

Featured Musician:Richard Bruxvoort Colligan


Exegetical Notes

John 10:11-18

Initial Thoughts

  • John 10 is the text for every Good Shepherd Sunday (Easter 4)

    • Year A - John 10:1-10

    • Year B - John 10:11-18

    • Year C - John 10:22-30

Bible Study

  • Hebrew Bible background to Jesus’ words

    • Ezekiel 34 tells us about the opposite of the good shepherd. Provides warning against the current shepherds of Israel who:

      • Do: Drink the milk, wear the wool, slaughter the fat animals

      • Don’t: Tend the flock, strengthen the weak, heal the sick, bind up the injured, bring back the strays, or seek out the lost.

      • Instead: Rule them with injustice, scatter the flock.

    • Isaiah 40, which is an Advent reading, compares God, the giver of comfort, to a shepherd.

      • “Like a shepherd, God will tend the flock; he will gather lambs in his arms and lift them into his lap. He will gently guide the nursing ewes.”

    • Jeremiah 2:8 “The priests did not say, ‘Where is the Lord?’ Those who handle the law did not know me; the rulers* transgressed against me; the prophets prophesied by Baal, and went after things that do not profit.

      • Note says that the word translated as “rulers” in NRSV, and “leaders” in CEB is also Hebrew for “shepherds.”

  • Read John 9:39-10:21 for fuller context

    • Immediately after Jesus heals a man born blind, who is then expelled by teachers who thought he was below them.

    • The one who was born blind is the one who truly sees.

    • Jesus talking to Pharisees, tells them “I have come into the world to exercise judgment so that those who don’t see can see and those who see will become blind.”

    • Pharisees respond “Surely we aren’t blind, are we?”

    • Jesus’ answer then goes into a long metaphor about sheep and shepherds, of which this passage is a part.

  • David Lose suggests starting lection at verse 10

    • “I came so that they could have life - indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest” interesting CEB translation helps move the verse away from materialism of ‘abundance.’

    • ‘Living life to the fullest’ frames the rest of what a Good Shepherd does.

    • Gives motivation for all Jesus does.

    • Why does Jesus lay down his life? So we may live life to the fullest.

  • “I am good shepherd” is a bold statement. In all metaphors in Scriptures of the Shepherd, God is always the good shepherd - or Cyrus (Isaiah 44:28)

    • Good Shepherd:

      • Lays down his life for the sheep

      • Knows his sheep

      • Sheep know him

  • Sheep

    • Not stupid and mindless: Sheep can remember the face of 50 individual people or animals for up to 2 year

    • Sheep must be led - often by goats

    • Sheep are extremely communal animals: “they established firm friendships and looked out for one another in times of need: "Rams were found to form long term relationships… [they] intervened on behalf of weaker colleagues and supported each other in fights," says the 1993 study. These acts of loyalty and friendship-building are driven by emotions. A 2009 report published in Animal Welfare found that sheep are capable of experiencing a whole range of feelings, from fear to anger, despair, boredom and happiness.

    • They are fertile and demonstrate sexual preference with 8% exhibiting a lifelong same-gender sexual preference

    • Understanding Sheep Behavior

      • Sheep are social animals, so try and prevent seclusion.

      • Sheep by nature are followers; let them follow and don’t drive them as you would cattle.

      • Sheep are docile animals by nature.

      • Sheep have good memories; these memories need to be positive ones as much as possible.

      • Sheep like routine, so be patient when introducing something new.

      • Sheep reactions are predictable, so use them.

      • Sheep react negatively to loud noises and yelling.

      • Sheep tend to move in the opposite direction of the handler.

      • Sheep move best when not afraid, so work slowly and calmly.

      • Sheep will move towards other sheep.

      • Sheep have no depth perception, so shadows, dark surfaces and water are an issue.

      • Sheep fear new visual objects

    • Sheep can also be very destructive- there are 1.2 billion sheep in the world

  • Other Sheep

    • Reference to the Gentiles.

    • This shepherd is not just for Israel, but because “God so loved the world.”

    • Jesus may have been referring to the Gentiles, but who are the other sheep in our midst? Those whom have long been rejected but are included in Jesus’ love and grace?

    • What does it mean to be one flock? Is Jesus talking against pluralism? For Ecumenism or something completely different?

    • Perhaps Jesus is encouraging us to move beyond the echo chamber of those with whom we regularly worship and associate with- spend time with some other sheep and remember we are all part of one flock/one family.

Thoughts and Questions

  • What does it mean to “live life to the fullest?”

  • Davide Lose: “But why? Why does Jesus the good shepherd lay down his life? To tell us that we are, in fact, enough. Jesus, especially in John's gospel, doesn't die in order to make some kind of payment to God or to satisfy God's wrath or to pay the penalty for sin. Jesus, in John's Gospel, is the Revealer, the One who comes to make the invisible God visible and the unapproachable God accessible. Jesus comes to reveal that God loves the whole world, no exceptions.”

  • Who are the other sheep for your community? Who have been left “outside” the gate, but now should be welcomed in?

Acts 4:5-12


Initial Thoughts

  • Continuing the story - albeit out of order - that started when Peter and John healed a man.

    • Go back (at least) to verse one to see just why the council was so angry.

  • Cornerstone that you rejected - Again, be careful of the Anti-Jewish track that can be taken with this passage. They rejected, but Peter himself denied, and all of humanity is implicated.

Bible Study

  • Literary Context

    • For full context, go back to chapter 3 and retell the story

      • Peter and John heal a man born crippled at the Temple gate.

      • This draws a crowd, because everyone knows this guy (he was a regular at the Beautiful gate)

      • Peter and John speak to the crowds (3:11-26), telling them that they healed in Jesus’ name (remember, that guy you rejected and had crucified).

        • All humankind is indicted in the death of Jesus, not just the Jews.

      • Sadducees angered by what they were saying. Angered “that the apostles were teaching the people and announcing that the resurrection of the dead was happening because of Jesus.” (Acts 4:3)

      • Arrested, but many who heard became believers (their number grew to 5,000)

        • Acts 1:15 - the family of believers is 120.

        • Acts 2:41 - 3,000 were added

        • Acts 2:47 - The Lord adding daily

        • Acts 4:4 - The number grew to about 5,000

      • This passage happened “the next day” after Peter and John were arrested. Arrested not for healing, but for proclaiming the resurrection

      • After this passage, Peter and John are sent away, but were told to “stop all speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus.” (Acts. 4:18

    • Next week. The Acts text will jump to chapter 8 (Philip and the Eunuch), so this story is over after this week.

  • Angered Sadducees ask, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” (v. 7)

    • Reminiscent of Luke 20:1-8. The Chief Priests, legal experts, and elders ask, “Tell us: What kind of authority do you have for doing these things? Who gave you this authority?”

    • Authority is an important motif in Luke’s gospel

      • 4:6 The devil offers Jesus authority

      • 4:32 They were astounded at his teaching, because [Jesus] spoke with authority

      • 4:36 People amazed at his authority

      • 5:24 Jesus claims the authority to forgive sin

      • 7:8 Centurion describes authority

      • 9:1 Jesus gives the 12 power and authority over demons

      • 10:1 Jesus gives authority

      • 12:5

      • 20:20 Schemes to trap Jesus and submit him to Roman authority

      • 22:25 Jesus describes Gentile authority - “those in authority lord it over them and are called benefactors” (Challenging quid pro quo cultural system).

  • Peter’s response is two fold.

    • “It is only be the Holy Spirit that a man like Peter is able to speak before such an assemblage of the powerful, and when he speaks we wonder if there is a touch of irony in his opening remark.” (Will Willimon, Interpretation: Acts, p. 49)

    • If you’re mad about this healing, that’s on  you.

      • “The authorities could not care less about the formerly disabled man. Their pretended concern for him is a smoke screen behind which they conceal their true anxiety” (James Newsom, Texts for Preaching, Year B, p. 299)

    • It is under Jesus’ authority. Remember, the one you crucified, but now God is using to save the world.

      • Jesus resurrection opens up this kind of power

      • Jesus’ resurrection is open to all.

Psalm 23 

(Notes from Richard Bruxvoort Colligan)

v1 The Lord is my shepherd…

  • — name for kings, a title for YHWH

  • — political

… I shall not want.

  • — Invites a question of us: in what sense do we “not want?”

  • — Revs: how is this disruptive in an entitlement culture

  • — Tension in a world where a great many seem to be in want. Brueggemann- world as it is, as it could/should be?

  • — A life of trust

v2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; he leads me beside still waters;

  • — not necessarily comfort (McCann)

  • — forest of Hereth? (I Sam. 22:5)

v3 he restores my soul. He leads me in right paths for his name’s sake.

v4 Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff—they comfort me.

v5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies…

  • — eating with Jawas and Sandpeople

  • Robot Chicken - lunch with Darth Vadar in the City of Clouds

…you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.

  • — about oil

  • — “I shall not want” theme again

v6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life…

  • — Hesed!

  • — Radaf! YHWH as badass stalker and other uncomfortable metaphors

  • — Have you ever wanted to get away from God? Tevye in Fiddler, Psalm 39

  • — Stuck with covenant God: Ps 139, John 10, I John 3

…and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord my whole life long.

  • — connotations of tabernacle, temple, clan, family

1 John 3:16-24


Initial Thoughts

  • Continuation of 1 John

    • Living in the Light of God

    • Sin and repentance

    • Self-giving love

  • Read 1 John 3:8-15 - for context

  • Just because it doesn’t say shepherd- doesn’t mean avoid this passage! You can keep your 1 John series going

Bible Study

  • Possible commentary on the Gospel of John - interpreting the death of Jesus

    • Jesus died to show us the love we are called to

    • Brian Peterson, Working Preacher, “The author is not interested in explaining just how Jesus' voluntary death benefits us. The point is that Jesus' act is the deepest meaning of "love", and so Jesus himself defines the character of the church's life.”

  • Contrasts Cain and Jesus

    • Cain did not love his brother- killed him- and was not of God (1 John 3:12-15)

    • Jesus loves us - is willing to die instead of kill - is of God

  • Love as a way of Life

    • There is no distinction between believing in God, following Jesus and loving your neighbor - they can never be mutually exclusive

    • “It’s the thought that counts” holds no sway here - love must be shown, not simply expressed

    • Love is about putting the other before the self even unto death

    • Very reminiscent of Matthew 24

  • Pervasiveness of Sin

    • Our hearts may not always support the love we are called to

    • We can “love against our will” by obeying the commandments even when we do not want to do so

    • v. 19b-20 have been used a fear tactic - Be careful because God knows you heart - God knows what you’ve been thinking!

      • true- but this passage is much more focused on comfort than condemnation - yes God knows what we have been thinking and sometimes our hearts betray us, but how we act on those inclinations is what is important.

    • God’s commandments are a way of overcoming our inmost thoughts of anger, hatred, jealousy, greed, etc. God meets us where we are!

Thoughts and Questions

  • How does the church “lay down [it’s life] for our brothers and sisters” v.16?

  • What does it mean to love even when we don’t want to? Can we love someone without liking them? Are we willing to sacrifice ourselves for our “enemies”?

  • God meets us where we are- not expecting perfection, but for us to act in love. How can we similarly promote love without judging people’s thoughts?


Thanks to our Psalms correspondent, Richard Bruxvoort Colligan (psalmimmersion.com,@pomopsalmist). Thank you to Scott Fletcher for our voice bumpers, Dick Dale and the Del Tones for our Theme music (“Misirlou”), Nicolai Heidlas (“Sunday Morning”,"Real Ride"and“Summertime”) and Paul and Storm for our closing music (“Oh No”).