Easter 2 – The Good Shepherd

Easter 2 - The Good Shepherd. 1930. Henry Ossawa Tanner

1 Peter 2:19-25       St John 10:11-16


You were straying like sheep,
but have now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.


This morning, in our readings we are being compared with sheep.  And it is a certain characteristic of our personality that is being spoken of: we are followers – and we share this quality with sheep – it is in our very nature.

Being followers is not a bad thing, but who are we following?

When we were children, we imitated our parents – copying their virtues and their vices, because of their love for us and our desire to be like them – they were our shepherds.  As teens, there is often some tension with our parents.  Our parents were used to leading and we began to see our parents’ faults for the first time, that they are human.  And so we were disappointed (sometimes we were angry with them for that) and we searched for other models.  Wise parents, will prepare their children for their disappointment with themselves, by continually pointing their children to the great shepherd, Jesus Christ, who will never disappoint them.

If we are not looking at Jesus, we are looking at someone else, whether consciously or unconsciously.  We learn by imitation; we are like sheep.

Do you know who you are following in the decisions that you make in life?  How do we know who is trustworthy?  As we proceed on the spiritual life, how can we not be taken in by false teachers?


I want to do something I don’t normally do, to give an example from my own life of God’s shepherding of my soul.  Some of you will have heard this story before, but please bear with me.  It is my personal witness to the resurrected Jesus Christ.

I was baptized as a child and raised in the Church, but in my later teens I left the Church altogether.  But my soul still desired to be led.  I fell under the sway of a charismatic Buddhist teacher in my mid 20s.  He and his followers led me to sever relations with family and friends.  But I had a dramatic reconversion to Jesus while building a retreat centre for this group.  Though I had left the Church I was continually being nudged inwardly by the Holy Spirit to compare this teacher with Jesus Christ.  I remember he would bristle whenever I mentioned Jesus’ name.

I was reconverted to Jesus when I realized the need for a sacrifice sufficient to cover my sins.  But I remained on my own for a couple of years after this reconversion, a private Christian, reading the Bible on my own and praying daily.  It was not enough.  I also needed to be reconverted to becoming a part the Church that Jesus founded.  My pride that led me astray, was still in the way.

I had re-entered my work as a Professional Engineer, and was doing well in that work, but I realized that what Jesus had done and was doing in me was calling me to serve Him more fully.  I decided to quit my job and travel, asking him to show me what I was to do with my life. I got a one way ticket to Paris and began travelling Europe, North Africa and the Holy Land.

I was in a mountain village in the South of Spain.  I could see there were ruins of a castle on the top of a mountain next to the village.  I climbed to the top, passing through a flock of sheep.  When I got to the top, there was only one room left intact in the castle, among the ruins.  I looked inside the room and there as a lamb there.  He seemed stuck there, so I decided to try and chase him back to the flock.  He ran into a dark corner of the room, I had to really push him out the door.  Then he just started eating grass.  I really had to physically push him back to be with the rest of the flock.

Then I sat down and watched him from a distance and he started moving away again from the flock.  I felt concern for the lamb, and immediately had the sensation, a voice, inwardly, saying to me, “That’s how I feel about you!”

I felt convicted...and seen...and loved by God.  God had set up the whole situation to teach me!  I also saw it as a sign to humble myself and return to the Church which Jesus has founded: to listen to others, to listen to the wisdom found there.  Not to be out on my own.  And so I began the search for which Church to enter back into.  That led me to the Anglican Church for various personal reasons.  On the trip I also began to wonder if I was being called to be a priest.


In the Book of Ezekiel, God speaks through the prophet. Contrasting Himself with the unfaithful shepherds of Israel at that time, God says,

Behold, I, I myself will search for my sheep…I will rescue them…I will bring them into their own land… I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the watercourses… there shall they lie down in good grazing land…I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep …I will seek the lost…bring back the crippled… bind up the injured…strengthen the weak…I will feed them with justice…I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them and be their shepherd. [See Ezekiel 34]

Ezekiel is prophesying about 400 years after the death of King David, so he is not talking about the historical King David, but the coming Messiah, the Son of David – who is God Himself.  There can be no greater mentor, we are to turn our eyes to Him, and join with others who have their eyes fixed on Him.  When Jesus came to us 600 years after Ezekiel, he says very deliberately, knowing that he is the fulfillment of this very prophesy, he says, I am the Good Shepherd.

But how do we know Jesus is that one?  He is the Good Shepherd because he’s not in it for himself, but rather He gives his life for the sheep.  Has any guru, given up his life for his sheep, or have they simply consumed the lives of their sheep?  Do society’s rich and famous and powerful, give up their lives for you?  Some do in ways, by their public service.  They can provide limited leadership.  But will any of them be with you and I when the wolf comes, that is, in the darkest moments in our lives when Satan tempts us, or in the final moments of our lives, even at the moment of our death?  Will any of them see us through the gate of death and bring us through to the other side?  No, but Jesus will.  He has shown us He will by His death for us and by His Resurrection.  No other man has risen from the dead, as Jesus has, and appeared to his disciples for 40 days – His resurrection, is a vindication of his death for us.  We can be sure He is God for us in the flesh – He’s the one to follow.

We are here this morning because we’ve all been captivated in some way by Jesus. We see in Jesus the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and we are right to want to follow Him.  Jesus fulfills in us that part of our soul that is always searching for a mentor, for one whom we can follow absolutely – and Jesus will never disappoint us.

We can trust fully in Jesus – but he has also left to us the Church, of which we are all a part through our baptism and faith.  He guides us by his Holy Spirit inwardly, and by the Word of God, outwardly.  And the Word of God as interpreted, not just by myself, but through the centuries of the Tradition, and as people struggle to understand its application in each generation.

I am the Good Shepherd.  I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.  And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.

We give thanks today that, as St Peter puts it, we were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of [our] souls – Jesus Christ.

But if we remain by ourselves, private Christians, it is impossible to receive the graces that Jesus has left us to grow and be continually sanctified.  He calls us into fellowship with others in the Church.

Now, thanks be to God, in our ancient liturgy, following the pattern shown to us from the earliest days of the Church, we can receive His gifts.  Together, we will now portray publicly Jesus Christ crucified and, through repentance and faith, can prepare ourselves to receive His risen presence.

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

Logo Ascension Optima skewed transparent 2 black


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Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. Psalm 127:1,2