Homily for 4.26.15
(revised from ahomily first posted
In today’s Lectionary Gospel reading we find a passage of depth and beauty. Here, Jesus calls himself the Good Shepherd, and in so doing he offers us a powerful metaphor for describing his purpose, his calling and his work.
The word here translated “good” is the Greek word: kalos (καλός), and besides “good” it can also be translated, “beautiful,” as in an “outward sign of an inward good.” In this way the word denotes that which is within a person, that which is worthy, honorable and honest, or one that is beautiful because they do the worthy, honorable and honest thing, and in that way they are inwardly good and outwardly beautiful. (for more, go here)
Here we see in Jesus — the Good and Beautiful Shepherd — the one who willingly fulfilled his Father’s calling to lay down his life for the sheep of his fold and for the sheep not of his fold, so that he might restore the world. This shepherd metaphor, therefore, alludes to the calling of Jesus by the Father to be the Jewish Messiah, a calling meant to finally reclaim, restore and fulfill the promises GOD made -- from Abraham through to Israel -- to his chosen people.
Said differently, GOD is in Christ reconciling the world through the cross-work and the resurrection-work of the Good Shepherd, whose finished work on the cross, through the resurrection and in the ascension certainly will restore GOD’s good world as he represents and defends his chosen people, but curiously, not only his people.
That is, because GOD is good (beautiful) he seeks the good of his people both Jew and Gentile, finally succeeding to tear down the barriers that divide us (overturning Babel) and to restore our relationship with him (thus returning us to Eden). In this way GOD has future plans for his good but broken world. Far from turning from away from his world as damaged goods, GOD intends to restore it to that of a beautiful cathedral, and a place of worship, enjoyment and plenty.
Let us move a little farther toward the text, and let us unpack a little more in order to find a way into it. We might do so by asking just what makes a good shepherd?