Fourth Sunday of Easter: Acts 9:36-43; Psalm 23:1-6 (or Isaiah 53:1-6); Psalm 114:1-8; Revelation 7:9-17; John 10:22-30
Paul the Apostle points us to Jesus the Saviour.
Saul the persecutor become Paul the Apostle (Acts 13:9). What a great turning-point this was in the life of the early Church! When we read of Paul’s missionary journeys (Acts 13:1-28:31), we may be tempted to think, ‘What a great man Paul must have been’. In his letters, Paul insists that we must not think like this. He tells us that ‘nothing good dwells within’him. Paul never forgot his ‘past’: ‘I cursed Him, persecuted Him, and acted arrogantly toward Him’. Paul describes himself as ‘the worst of sinners’. Paul gives his testimony: ‘The grace of God was poured on me abundantly’(Romans 7:18; 1 Timothy 1:13-15). God’s true servants direct our attention to Christ. Ananias said, ‘The Lord Jesus... has sent me...’(Acts 9:17). Saul ‘preached boldly in the Name of Jesus’(Acts 9:27). Peter said, ‘Jesus Christ heals you...’(Acts 9:34).
Jesus the Saviour is our Shepherd of love.
Jesus Christ has passed ‘through the valley of the shadow of death’ for us (Psalm 23:4). Now, we rejoice in Him, our Shepherd of love - (a) the Good Shepherd who died for us (John 10:11); (b) the Great Shepherd who was raised for us (Hebrews 13:20-21); (c) The Chief Shepherd who is coming again for us (1 Peter 5:4). He restores us. He keeps us from ’straying like sheep’. He leads us ‘in paths of righteousness’(Psalm 23:3; 1 Peter 2:25). For God’s people, there is a glorious eternal destiny: ‘I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever’(23:6). We ‘receive this blessing from the Lord,...the God of our salvation’(Psalm 24:5).
Jesus the Saviour was crucified for us and has risen for us.
In this remarkable prophecy (Isaiah 53), we see Jesus Christ, crucified for us - ‘the Lord has laid all our sins on Him’ - and risen from the dead - ‘After the suffering of His soul, He will see the light of life’(Isaiah 53:6,11). ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’(Mission Praise, 745). We might put this question to Isaiah. In one sense, he wasn’t there. He lived long before the time of Christ. In another sense, he was there. God opened his eyes. God gave him a glimpse of what was going to happen in the future. ‘Were you there when they crucified my Lord?’ In one sense, we weren’t there. These things happened long before we were even born. In another sense, we were there. It was our sins which Christ took with Him to the Cross. It was our sins which He left behind Him when He rose from the dead (Romans 4:25).
In Jesus the Saviour, we see the greatness of God’s love.
‘The Lord is high above all nations... Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high?... Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord, who turns the hard rock into springs of water’(Psalm 113:4-5; Psalm 114:7-8). The Lord is greater than we could ever imagine. There is no greatness like the greatness of the Lord. All human greatness cannot even begin to compare with the greatness of God. His greatness is not only the greatness of His power. It is also the greatness of His love. When we sing, ‘How great Thou art’, we sing not only of His power - ‘Thy power throughout the universe displayed’. We sing also of His love - ‘And when I think that God His Son not sparing, sent Him to die - I scarce can take it in, that on the Cross my burden gladly bearing, He bled and died to take away my sin...’(Mission Praise, 506).
Jesus the Saviour invites us to come to Him.
Christ invites us to ‘come’(Revelation 6:1,3,5,7) - and look at things through His eyes. With Him, we look at earth. With Him, we look at heaven. Troubled world, tremendous worship - These are the things we see when we look through the eyes of our Lord jesus Christ. Our world is deeply troubled. Heaven’s worship is absolutely tremendous. Of all our many ‘troubles’, the greatest is this: We are sinners, and none of us ‘can stand’before ‘the face of Him who sits on the throne’. Our earthly ‘troubles’are nothing compared with this! There is hope. There is a way of ‘salvation’. We can be saved through ‘the blood of the Lamb’. If, however, we turn from Him - ‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world’- there will be no hope. We will face ‘the wrath of the Lamb’(Revelation 4:16-17; Revelation 5:10,14; John 1:29). Will you be saved - or lost?
In Jesus the Saviour, there is eternal life.
The Christian life is not easy. The devil ‘comes only to steal and kill and destroy’(John 10:10). Satan was working through the religious leaders. They were trying ‘to stone’ Jesus (John 10:31). ‘Again’, they failed (John 10:39). They could not take Jesus’life. ‘His hour had not yet come’(John 10:18; John 7:30;John 8:20). When Satan attacks us, we must remember this: God is in control. God has given us great promises (John 10:28-29). Jesus saves. Jesus keeps. His salvation is eternal: ‘He didn’t bring us this far to leave us. He didn’t teach us to swim to let us drown. He didn’t build His home in us to move away. He didn’t lift us up to let us down’. Satan will cause us plenty of trouble. Be on the alert (1 Peter 5:8). Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus (Hebrews 12:2). Looking to Jesus, we are assured of this: Satan will be defeated (Revelation 12:9).
The Bible Readings are taken from the Revised Common Lectionary – Year C.