The Anglican Orthodox Communion Worldwide
Second Sunday after Easter THE COLLECT
ALMIGHTY God, who has given thine only Son to be unto us both a sacrifice for sin, and also an ensample 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.
The Epistle. 1 St. Peter 2. 19.
THIS is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? But if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.
The GOSPEL St. John 10:11-18
.11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.14 I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, andone shepherd.17 Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again.18 No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.
As so fully expressed in the Collect for today, though salvation to eternal life is the greatest benefit we may enjoy in Christ, the many additional benefits of His treasury that redound to the believer are boundless. Peace, Joy, Love, Satisfaction, Comfort, etc. are plainly the blessings of a loving God to His Elect people.
Because of those riches in glory which the believer possesses, we are enabled to travel the hard road of life in joy and perseverance. This is elaborated in the Epistle of Peter in today’s lesson. The world is amazed at the resilience of the Christian who suffers loss, humiliation, and deprivation but maintains a glad heart and a happy disposition. The Epistle reveals our Lord as the Plumb Line of Amos 7:7 – “Thus he shewed me: and, behold, the Lord stood upon a wall madeby a plumbline, with a plumbline in his hand. And the LORD said unto me, Amos, what seest thou? And I said, A plumbline. Then said the Lord, Behold, I will set a plumbline in the midst of my people Israel: I will not again pass by them any more.” Jesus Christ is our Plumbline. We measure the Law of Righteousness by that perfectly vertical line which He is. In reality, there is no such office as bishop except as an episcopal division of authority. There are under-bishops (or under-shepherds) but our Lord is the true Bishop of our Souls and the Good Shepherd of the Flock. If you are not familiar with the instrument called a Plumb Bob, ask someone over forty years of age.
I lived more than five years on the high desert of Iran. My responsibilities included the training of military pilots. In flying eastward from our base at 5,000 ft. elevation, we encountered the rocky slopes of mountains towering well above 10,000 ft. We sometimes unintentionally flew over a ridgeline at low level and disturbed the shepherd and his flock feeding on the greener slopes of the desert mountains. Once we discovered the corpse of a shepherd lying dead near the remains and remnants of several sheep. He had apparently been killed by a pack of wolves (the high desert is populated with many such packs) and he seemingly died trying to defend his sheep. Though there were several sheep that suffered death, you can be sure that the shepherd was the first to die. That is the nature of a shepherd who loves his sheep and even names each individually. The sheep KNOW him as he KNOWS them in the same way that we should KNOW the Lord as He knows us. It is not enough to know ABOUT the Lord, we must know Him in a heart relationship. 11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry themin his bosom, andshall gently lead those that are with young. Isaiah 40:11 (KJV) Jesus is our Good shepherd! “11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.”Note theemphatic nature of this statement! He is THEGood shepherd – there are no others!
Just as the shepherd of the high deserts of Iran gave his life to defend the sheep, so does Christ!
Why did the death of Jesus signify the Shepherd giving His life for His sheep? Because the shepherd is so much above the sheep in knowledge, wisdom, and love. Our Good Shepherd is GOOD (sinless) and the only shepherd that is without sin. He is the only One qualified to pay our wage for sin. All others born of woman are guilty of sin and unrighteousness. “23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” Romans 3:23 (KJV) The penalty for even ONE sin is death. There is no living human being that has not sinned in some manner or another. “23 For the wages of sin isdeath; but the gift of God iseternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” Romans 6:23 (KJV) The sinless one died to pay the sin-debt of the sinful.
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, andbecome the firstfruits of them that slept. 21 For since by man camedeath, by man camealso the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming. 1 Cor 15:20-23 (KJV) Not only did our Lord die on the cross to redeem us of our sins, but He also rose from the dead so that we, too, may have that privilege in glory.
It is true that the disciples were scattered and fearfully hunkered down in secret places over the three days of Christ lying in the Garden Tomb. 7 Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that ismy fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones Zech 13:7 (KJV) They were, for a time, scattered. But once the realization dawned on them that the Lord had arisen from the grave and walked among them, there was never another incident of their cowering in fear. They died bravely in propagating the Gospel all over the known world.
Do you know the mystery of life, or death? He knows, and He has prepared a way for us to respond to His call to life!
The Lord has many different flocks. He is the great Shepherd. But regularly, all flocks are gathered into one under the overall owner and shepherd. Whether you are German, Irish, English, French, Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, you have become part of the flock of our Lord if you are called and chosen as His sheep.
Many of varying character and intentions are attracted to the Good Shepherd and His flock. Not all are sheep – some are self-willed goats, and many are wolves in sheep’s clothing. They may be attracted to the wealth of the Great Shepherd, or covet those green pastures to which He leads His sheep. They covet His riches but not His Authority. So these are called ‘hirelings’ who preach for money and not out of love.12 But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.13 The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
The hireling is found in most churches of today, especially the larger churches. They emphasize money in their sermons and not love. They do not care for the sheep. They USEthem. They preach far more frequently on tithing and less on compassion and love.
Once you have belonged to the Good Shepherd, the devil cannot pull you from His care.11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. 12 While I was with them in the world, I kept them in thy name: those that thou gavest me I have kept, and none of them is lost, but the son of perdition; that the scripture might be fulfilled.13 And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. 14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. John 17:11-16 (KJV)
Once you have loved the Lord with a pure heart, you cannot fall from His hands.14 I am the good shepherd, and knowmy sheep, and am known of mine.15 As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. Do you KNOW Jesus Christ? Or do you just know SOME things about Him? I have many FB friends whose name I know, where they live, their jobs – but I do not KNOW them. I only know ABOUT them. Too many in churches today know about Jesus, but do not have a heart knowledge sealed with the virtue of LOVE sufficient to truly LOVE Him.
To know Jesus Christ is to love Him. 19 We love him, because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19 (KJV)
27 All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and heto whomsoever the Son will reveal him. Matt 11:27 (KJV)
Do you know God the Father? You do not unless you know His Son for He is the one who reveals the Father.
Are you feeding in a Presbyterian, a Baptist, an Anglican, or some other fold? You may be part of those other folds the Lord has in other places and churches. 16 And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, andone shepherd.
Suppose you are arrested for murder. You were caught red-handed in the act. The Judge in the case is a great man of compassion and love, but He has no choice but to abide by the letter of the law. He sentences you to death by hanging on the next morning. Can you imagine the anguish of that long night before you meet your fate? You are full of fear and regret. What will your family think? How long will it take to suffocate at the end of that strong rope? Will I be courageous, or cry out in fear at the last minute………
But during the night, the guards come and open the prison doors and invite you to go free, just as they did with Barabbas! How did this happen, you ask? The guard explains, the Son of the Judge, who is a man of pure character and compassionate heart, volunteered to die on the gallows in your place! He has known of your plight and knows your heart that it is feeble and weak to commit such a horrendous crime, so He will die in your place – and, nevertheless, He loves you!
If such a friend dies for you to save you from such a death, how could you not love Him. Well, that friend is Jesus.
Do you have friends? How did you get them? How do we make friends? The Lord knows. He became our friend while we were yet His enemy. He has proven His friendship to His elect. 24 A man that hathfriends must shew himself friendly: and there is a friend thatsticketh closer than a brother.Prov 18:24 (KJV)
Have you reciprocated that friendship to the One who first loved you, my friends?