Jesus the Good Shepherd is a shepherd of second chances, as evidenced in today’s scripture reading. The setting in which Peter and John find themselves is reminiscent of Jesus’ earlier inquest by the Sanhedrin. (See Matthew 26:57-67.) The high priest and others are questioning the authority and power by which the crippled beggar was healed. It may have been the Sanhedrin’s hubris that initiates the questioning in the first place. After all, it was Caiaphas who suggested to the Jews “that it would be good if one man died for the people” (John 18:14, NIV). They may very well have thought they had snuffed out this whole Jesus movement.
However, Peter, with the Holy Spirit’s strength, recognizes his déjà vu scenario and is emboldened to proclaim the gospel message this time around. (See Matthew 26:69-75.) The memory of a rooster’s crow may have drowned out the line of questioning as he mustered the strength to speak the name of Jesus as the one and only authority by which the crippled man was healed. He recognized his second chance to proclaim the source of his power, Jesus the Christ.
It’s never a good feeling when we recognize missed opportunities to show Christ’s love and compassion to others. We often pile on guilt and remorse until we ultimately can’t pray or even read the scriptures without feeling inadequate and isolated. Jesus understands our frailty and our insecurities, and that’s why he continually seeks us out among the terrain of missed opportunities. As a good and faithful shepherd, he desires to bring us back into the fold. When we acknowledge his love and are empowered to do his will on earth, second chances emerge. Ask yourself this week: What second chances are awaiting me? What will I do to proclaim, with the Holy Spirit’s help, the Author and Source of my being?
Come, Holy Spirit, empower me this week to seek your truth and guidance within life’s second chances. Amen.
This week’s readings open with a confrontation in Acts between Peter and John and some of the religious leaders. Peter speaks in harsh terms to the leaders, stating that they had killed Jesus; yet by the power of Jesus’ name, a man who could not walk has been healed. By that same name spiritual healing happens as well. The other three passages employ the metaphor of the Good Shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd,” the psalmist declares, and the shepherd cares for all our needs. In John’s Gospel, Jesus declares that he is the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for his sheep. First John repeats this imagery. Jesus proved his love when he lay down his life for us. If we truly love one another, we also ought to sacrifice in tangible ways
Read Acts 4:5-12. When have you gotten into difficulty for exercising your Christian faith and values? If never, why not?
Read Psalm 23. What is your first memory of hearing or reading this psalm? Has it had a significant role in your life of faith? If so, what has its role been?
Read 1 John 3:16-24. How do your actions reflect your love for God and for your fellow children of God?
Read John 10:11-18. What “wolves” have you faced in your life? How have you experienced the presence of the Good Shepherd with you as you faced these threats?
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This season, Whitney R. Simpson has given us the gift we must open: a clear, accessible invitation to connect with the divine spark that is within us. This is the best present: being present for Jesus’ birth, God made human.”
Learn more about our newest Advent resource, Fully Human, Fully Divine here.