Second Sunday after Easter 18 April A.D. 2021

Second Sunday after Easter           18 April A.D.  2021              Morning Prayer

Psalm 23         First Lesson. Isaiah 40:1-11        Second  Lesson. John 10:1-10

                             Almighty God, who hast given thing only Son to be
                             unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample
                             of godly life; Give us grace that we may always most
                            thankfully receive that his inestimable benefit, and also
                            daily endeavor ourselves to follow the blessed steps of
                            his most holy life; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ
                            our Lord.                                         Amen

The fifty days after Christ’s resurrection will be the most intense period of learning for the disciples and the other followers of Christ.(40 days with the risen Savior, and ten more waiting for the Holy Comforter, [Pentecost]   It will be during this period that they will begin the long process of learning about what it means to be a true follower of Him.  They will have one object lesson after another that will help them to understand many of the parables that Jesus taught during the three and a half years leading up to his death. 
If you meditate on the following verses from the 23rd Psalm you can then understand what Jesus is trying to say to his disciples and those who will follow them down through the halls of history. 
We should all take time to meditate on these verses and see how David as a prophet, gives us a glimpse of the coming One, He who will redeem His people.  

1 The Lord is my shepherd : therefore can I lack nothing.
2 He shall feed me in a green pasture : and lead me forth beside the waters of comfort.
3 He shall convert my soul : and bring me forth in the paths of righteousness, for his Name's sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil : for thou art
with me; thy rod and thy staff comfort me.
5 Thou shalt prepare a table before me against them that trouble me : thou hast anointed my head
with oil, and my cup shall be full.
6 But thy loving-kindness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life : and I will dwell in
the house of the Lord for ever. 
    Remember right after Jesus was taken, the disciples ran away. Yes Peter did follow Jesus into the area where he would later be tried, but before the first rooster crows, Peter will have denied Christ three times, as Christ predicted Peter would. Peter will also run away.   So now after Jesus has come back from the dead he will gather his followers around and calm them, teach them and prepare them for the coming fury of Satan.  Understand that Satan knows that he is defeated, but he will not go down without trying to take others with him.  He will do his best for the next several millennium to destroy what Christ left behind here on earth.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.
2 But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.
3 To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.
4 And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
6 This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them.
7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.

   In this passage from the tenth chapter of Gospel of John we learn that the man, the one who tries to enter the area where the sheep are safe, is a thief and a robber.  One who wants to deny and take away that which Christ has given us, our salvation.  This is all part of the fight that Satan is engaged in.  Because this parable was spoken several weeks before Jesus went to Jerusalem for the last time, many did not understand what he meant by passages such as “ I am the good shepherd.  The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”  His followers can now understand what he meant.  Look at the verses 17 and 18.  “The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life–only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.  I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”  
 Interesting note as we study this passage of John’s gospel, we even see a prophecy that pertains to non-Hebrew believers.  Notice what Jesus says in verse 16.  “ I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.”   Jesus is referring to non-Hebrew believers here, those of us who are Gentiles.   
This is where the Great Commission comes into play. “Go ye therefore into the world making disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and of the Holy Spirit.. and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you, and surely I will be with you always to the very end of the age.”

It is now clear what he meant, now that the disciples are talking to Jesus, after he came back from the dead.   Over the forty days that Jesus lingers on earth after Easter there will be some four to five hundred witness to his being alive.  This will be so convincing that these people will be willing to give up their own lives when they are confronted and forced to choose between Christ and other choices.  The Hebrew authorities will try to force these early believers to abandon the faith they now have, they will be threatened with death, shame, being cast out of the synagogue and all manner of trouble.  But they will not give up their belief in the Risen Savior.  This willingness to give up their life rather than denounce their faith, will actually cause the Church to grow over the early years of persecution. 
 Many a pagan will come to the Lord after witnessing believers willingly giving up their lives for this risen savior.   Death in the pagan world was to be feared and all omens or signs that pointed to death were to be avoided.  Even the Hebrew people wrote and spoke angrily about death.  David wrote many a time about being dead and not remembered. He does not like the idea of death.  So when these new believers came along and did not fear death, it will cause people to take notice.  “ Surely there must be something about these people that causes them to willingly go to their deaths.”
We must learn from those who have gone before us.  We must read, digest, and use the Word of God, the Bible.  We must follow Jesus, because He is the good shepherd, he will not lead us astray, he will not fail us.  Let us follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back.

Let us pray:

 O God of unchangeable power and light eternal: Look favorably upon the body of thy whole church, and by thy eternal providence accomplish the salvation of man, that all the world may see and know that what was fallen has been lifted up, and what was grown old has been made new, and that all things are restored by him through whom they were made, even thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord.                      Amen.

Almighty and everliving God, ruler of all things in heaven and earth: Hear our prayers for this parish family. Strengthen the faithful, stir up the careless, and restore the penitent.  Grant uss all things necessary for our common life, and bring us all to be of one heart and mind withing the holy church, through Jesus Christ our Lord.                          Amen.        

 The peace of God, which passes all understanding, keep your hearts and minds in the knowledge and love of God, and of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord: And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be amongst you , and remain with you always.   Amen