Readings for this Sunday, Easter 4B
Acts 4:5-12—Here we see Peter boldly proclaiming the news about Jesus’ resurrection. He and John have been arrested for their failure to stop spreading the news and now appear before the Sanhedrin for their actions. Verse 13 is not included in the reading for this Sunday, but it provides the contrast for what is going on with these two men. Luke reports that, Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. Peter has gone from denial and shame to boldness and zeal. Why the change? Verse 8’, Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit . . . provides the answer, giving us a good intro from Luke for our upcoming day of Pentecost.
Psalm 23—This is the most familiar psalm of all. There seems to be no end to the nourishment derived from this short passage of Scripture. It provides a great background to the John 10 text for this Sunday, helping us understand the shepherding nature of God, especially the protective aspects God has for our bodies and souls. Preachers should explore not only the comfort this provides for end-of-life scenarios, but also the blessing and benefits this provides through daily meditation or recitation.
1 John 3:16-24—John wanted those reading and hearing his first letter here to know what real love was. It was not an expression shared between two people, but was demonstrated in sacrifice. John wanted them to understand it within themselves, fully considering what it meant that they were recipients of the demonstration of God’s love in Jesus. But, he also wanted them to know it wasn’t just about themselves, but for others. This was not an option, but a command for those who believe in Jesus.
John 10:11-18—Images and artwork, from old renaissance to current kitschy, come to mind with the beginning of this Scripture, I am the Good Shepherd. This is the middle part of a conversation John described between Jesus and the Pharisees. He had, as always, used creative means of getting his point across to them about not only missing what God was all about in the world, but of how they were becoming thieves and robbers of God’s flock. They couldn’t get the point, further evidence of their spiritual blindness, so Jesus kept at it with the sheep stories, ultimately pointing the finger to himself to proclaim that he was the good shepherd, that the sheep know his voice, and that he was on a mission to save them as well as other sheep outside of his pen. All of this would require him laying down his life for them, that they may live.