During the Easter season, we reflect on who the risen Christ is to us, and on this particular Sunday in the church calendar each year we reflect on Jesus as the Good Shepherd, the one who cares for the sheep. This is not an image that’s familiar to Canberrans or indeed to most urban Australians, but to the people of Jesus’ day it spoke of deep care and unconditional love. When we think of ‘sheep’ it’s not normally complimentary. Sheep are seen as not too bright, they can follow the leader blindly rather than think for themselves and they get stuck in precarious situations, and it’s true that throughout Scripture, this is a metaphor to describe human beings. This is a persistent theme in Scripture, and it runs throughout the Old and the New Testaments.
The psalm set for today is the most beloved of psalms. It’s very familiar to us, perhaps too familiar, so that we fail to think about it as carefully as we should. In it we have a picture of God as the Good Shepherd, who exercises a rugged commitment to care for the sheep in all circumstances. It reminds us that we can have complete confidence in God’s protection and love at all times and in all places. The entire psalm is a declaration about what it means to be God’s child – or the sheep belonging to the shepherd.
On this day in the church calendar we acknowledge that God is the one who sustains our life, who restores us and comforts us. We remember that we should love God above all and our neighbour as ourselves. God leads us through this life on earth, where goodness and love follow us always, and where we then share God’s blessings with those around us. Then when this life is done, we are welcomed to the heavenly banquet, and fed at God’s table. What a beautiful image for us to share this Easter!
In peace, Lynda