Sunday, April 26, 2015


Acts 4:8-12; Ps 118;  1John 3:1-2; John 10:11-18

Just a few things of note.

As Peter speaks to the leaders of the people and elders he says these words, "if we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, who God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed."

Just notice what Peter says first.  Before he speaks of healing he mentions salvation.  First things first. Salvation, being saved, is always the priority.  Everything else including healing is secondary.

How often do we focus on second things or third things in our life and let the first and most important thing slide down the list of importance.

First things first.  When we are properly ordered, everything is harmony, then we truly begin to experience salvation here and now.  When we put other things first such as health, wealth, prosperity, job, hobbies and then everything is lost and life is in disarray.

What is salvation?  Too often we think of salvation in material terms: eternal delights, eternal disney land of sorts; 72 virgins if you are muslim.  But salvation is simply this: to share the life of God, participation in the divine nature, to be children of God, truly and wholly.

No other religion besides Christianity promises sharing in the very life of God.  This is big.  Jesus says clearly: I have come that you might begin me and I in you and in the Father.

Secondly, Peter in his defense of Christ, quotes Psalm 118, "the stone rejected by the builders, as become the cornerstone."

Psalm 118 is an important hymn. It is one of the Hallel psalms, the psalms used in the passover ritual.  Every year the jews get together and celebrate the passover meal and recite the Hallel psalms as part of the ritual meal they partake.  The psalms are psalm 113-118.

These would have been the very psalms Jesus and his apostles recited and sung on the night he gathered in the upper room prior to being betrayed, arrested, thrown in a dungeon, condemned, crucified, put to death.

In fact, psalm 118 would have been the last psalm recited and sung as Jesus stepped out of the upper room and made that mile mile and half journey across the rocky terrain, through the Kidron Valley, to the Garden of Gethsemane.

As he walked in order to prepare for that moment when he was going to embrace his identity as the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep, he had psalm 118 pressed upon his lips, reverberating in his heart and mind.  This psalm was forming in his attitude as he prepared for hard times to come.

We see great athletes before games wearing headphones to cancel out the noise, to get hyped, to put their game face on.  I wonder what they are listening to to help them get ready.  If Jesus was wearing head phones the night before he died then psalm 118 would have been playing in his ears as he stepped on the field of play that night.

If we look at Psalm 118, we discover that it is very upbeat and positive.  It is filled we hopefulness.

"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good, his mercy endures forever" is a refrain in the psalm. Then is goes on to say, "in danger I called on the Lord and he answered and set me free...The Lord is with me, I am not afraid...I was hard pressed but the Lord came to my help...The joyful shout of deliverance is heard...I thank you for you have answered are my God I give you thanks, I offer you praise...give thanks his mercy endures forever."

These are the words Jesus incorporated in his life as he prepared to become the Good Shepherd who lays down his life.

Imagine if we were to do the same thing when we face hard times in our life.  Rather than complain and moan and gripe, we followed the Good shepherd's lead.  What if we took Psalm 118 and let it become our hymn of preparation and let it transform our attitude and our response to difficulties in life?

Lastly, Jesus uses a comparison between the hire hands and the Good shepherd.  He basically says the hire hand treats the sheep as a commodity: they focus on what they can get from the sheep.  Rather, the good Shepherd focuses on what he can give to benefit the sheep, the sheep are not a commodity but a object of its affection. This is quote a difference.

Let's suppose as sheep we did the same.  We stopped treating Jesus as a commodity, seeking only what we can get and start treating him as an object of affection seeking what w might give.

It might just change our life.  It might just open the path to truer experience of salvation, here and now.

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