Reflection: Easter 4, May 12th 2019.
Many years ago when we were travelling in Greece we were in the remote northern area of Thrace where we saw many shepherds with their small flocks of sheep – perhaps around thirty. I recall one shepherd who had built himself a shelter that looked like a wigwam and he was sitting in his shelter on the banks of the Strymon River and his sheep were gathered around his hut. There were other shepherds who sheltered under huge overcoats. They and their flocks were out in all weathers, such was their devotion to their sheep. There was not a sheep dog in sight. The shepherds simply called their sheep as John describes, and applies the imagery to Jesus – ‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me, and I give them eternal life…’ The members of Jesus’ flock are those who believe, as Jesus has just told the Jewish authorities.
To be a believer is to accept the divinity of Jesus, to trust Him, to commit to Him and to follow Him. The early disciples were able to follow Jesus literally; as Peter was told to do by Jesus in last Sunday’s Gospel
(Jn 21.20ff). For us the command to follow must be understood spiritually and morally. The Jews who cannot believe are unable to be part of the flock and receive eternal life. For us Jesus is the Good Shepherd who cares for us. He is trustworthy; He is God. Together with the Spirit He has left us a set of spiritual and moral values like love, faith, moderation, self-control etc which as believers we should follow.
Rev Dr Calum Gilmour