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Preaching Mission for the 4th Sunday of Easter (May 8, 2022)

To Whom Are We Listening?
by the Rt. Rev. Chris Giesler

Preaching Text: John 10:22-30

There was great confusion and debate going on in Jerusalem. As we come to the setting of today’s text, Jesus has been in Jerusalem for some time, and his message and actions have caused quite a bit of division. For instance, in chapter 5, when Jesus heals the man by the pool of Bethesda, the ensuing debate centers around the fact that the healing occurred on the sabbath and not the miracle itself. This happens several times. As we experience the world today, any event can be seen from different angles, and its meaning can be seen differently. Some in Jerusalem saw Jesus as the promised Messiah, while others saw him as an imposter who needed to be eliminated.

So here in chapter 10, people are asking for a clear declaration from Jesus as to who he was. “If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly,” they ask. Jesus’ response reminds us that he has done what he has done and said what he has said, and it the rest is up to the heart of each witness to determine what this means in their lives. The simple truth is that it is up to each of us to discern who Jesus is to us and how God is moving in our world today.

With this in mind, I see two important lessons that will impact our call to mission.

First, in verse 27, Jesus says, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.” When traveling in Israel several years ago, our tour guide was giving us some commentary as we rode through the countryside.   By chance, we came across a shepherd leading a flock of sheep. He referred us to this text in John and told us that in Jesus’ day, during the hours of the night, all of the shepherds in any particular town would take turns watching all of the sheep in a common sheepfold. And the next morning, each shepherd would come and call to their sheep. Those sheep would recognize their own shepherd’s voice and follow him out. There are many competing voices in our world today. There is God’s voice calling us to serve each other, and there is the world’s call to care first for ourselves and give others what is left over. What voices are you listening to? What voices are you following? How can you turn your attention toward our Savior first and allow Jesus’ love and grace to determine how we view and serve the world?

Secondly, even when we do follow God’s call to serve others, we can’t always count how they will interpret our work. Some will see God’s hand in our work, while others might view us with suspicion. But this should never limit our desire to step forward in Jesus’ name to serve others. The worst thing that can be said about any Christian is that they did nothing when there was clearly something that needed to be done.

We are indeed the body of Christ in the world today. We will lead others into a relationship with God when we care for the sick, feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless, welcome the refugee, and become a friend to anyone in need.

As you make your to-do list for this coming week, whose voice are you listening to?

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