Acts 4:5-12, John 10:11-18 – Easter 4, year B
Questions, for individual or group use:
1. (Acts 4) What questions do you imagine were in the minds of the Jewish leaders? What would have surprised them in Peter’s speech? Who does Peter credit with the healing? Is Peter diplomatic? offensive?
2. (John 10) What motivates the “hired hand”? Why is his care for the sheep limited? Why does Jesus “own” us – identify with us so much more closely? What are the results of this? How can we describe them, and how can we respond to them?
A sample sketch on John 10:11-18, for 3 voices: A, B and C
A: You look a bit hot and bothered!
B: I should say so! What a morning! I’ve been trying to get this gadget to work. I bought it on the internet – supposed to be a wonderful thing and very easy to set up. The instructions were terrible, didn’t make sense at all, so I rang them up,
A: Did you get it going?
B: No, that’s the point! It took me two hours to discover that the instructions were for a different model, and to get the right manual off the web. Then, when I’d worked through that, I find out that it isn’t working anyhow! “Manufacturing defect” they said.
C: So what happens now?
B: After twenty minutes on the phone, they agreed to give me my money back, but they can’t collect it until a week next Thursday, and won’t send a cheque until its received at their factory. I don’t know, there’s no service these days – they didn’t even apologise!
A: I know how you feel. In the shops you have to wait for them to finish their gossip before they’ll serve you.
C: I suppose it’s because we want everything cheap. You buy online, and those firms don’t pay to have staff answering questions.
A: But even in the days when we bought everything locally, you didn’t always get much help. It was only when you knew the shopkeeper.
C: It’s a bit like the hired hand in that gospel reading, isn’t it? He’s not going to put himself at risk. He’ll do the shepherding when it’s not too hard, but any problem or risk and he’s off. He can think up some excuse later, but it’s only a job.
B: So what’s the answer? Are we all going to be bad tempered and get high blood pressure?
C: I don’t know if it’ll sort out your shopping, but the reading contrasts the hired shepherd with Jesus, the good shepherd. He talks about knowing his own and them knowing him.
A: What difference does that make?
B: Well, you were saying you got better service when you knew the shopkeeper. Is that part of it – the way the relationship works?
C: I think it is.
A: Doesn’t it help when money isn’t involved? Jesus is saying that there are some things people won’t do for money. You can’t rely on a paid shepherd to fight off the wild animals, he doesn’t have the motivation to take the risk.
C: But who does? You don’t risk your life for next week’s dinner, do you?
A: That’s the strange thing; Jesus does, well at least he gives up his life, and its hard to understand why. It’s not as if anyone was terribly grateful – the crowd at the crucifixion weren’t applauding. So – why did he bother?
B: Well, nobody would do that as a job, so it must have been personal.
B: Yes. There are some things nobody would take on unless it was personal. I had a cousin: nag, nag, nag from morning till night. Nothing was right, couldn’t be told anything. Carers wouldn’t go near, but another relative moved in, cooked, cleaned, took it all.
C: must have been a saint!
A: or very deaf
B: actually she said it gave her something to live for. She got quite fond of the old monster.
A: Is that saying something about Jesus’ death? We agree you couldn’t pay him to do that, and it seems to be personal.
B: But if it’s personal, it ought to go both ways.
C: You mean, there ought to be some sort of response – from us?
B: Yes. It can’t be forced, but he does seem to be offering to get to know us.
A: Wait a minute. I though what we did was to go to church, take Communion,
B: And .
B: and what else? What about knowing him and being known – isn’t that more than going to services?
A: I haven’t thought much about that. I’m not sure I thought he would want to know someone like me.
C: I know what you mean. It can seem a bit – well a bit presumptuous, really. But it is what this gospel is saying. You couldn’t pay Jesus to do what he did, so it must be personal. If it’s personal, he’s involved with us – he must like us, or at least really want to help. Question is, how do we respond?
A: what’s the answer?
B: We’ve got to supply the answer by what we do. He’s ready to get to know us; are we willing?
A & C: Mmmm.
(774 words about 8 minutes) (Click here to return to the Index to Sketches)