Reflections: Saturday of the Third Week of Easter

April 20, 2024

Today’s Reading: Psalm 23; antiphon: John 10:14, 15b

Daily Lectionary: Exodus 40:17-38, Leviticus 1:1-7:38, Luke 8:40-56

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (From the Introit for Easter 4)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Tomorrow, the Fourth Sunday of Easter, is known as Good Shepherd Sunday. It’s when you’re reminded that Jesus guides and shepherds you through this life until He gathers you into the eternal sheepfold of the New Creation. 

Of course, Psalm 23 is the Introit appointed for tomorrow. King David’s comforting words of guidance lead into the Divine Service, making you ready to hear how Jesus’s rod and staff keep you from harm. 

But these words shouldn’t be reserved for one day. Nor should they be reserved for funerals, as it so often seems. These are words that bring everyday Christians hope and peace every single day.

The shepherd’s rod is that which drives away evil—it keeps the hungry lions at bay. It’s there to crack the skulls of those who would devour the sheep. The staff is the iconic shepherd’s crook, that long stick with the hook that is used to pull wayward sheep back onto the path.

Every day of this life on earth, in this sinful world, is one in which the Evil One lurks like a roaring lion, seeking to devour you. And even though he lurks, hidden, Jesus is there with His rod—His club—ready to defend you from the attacks of the Evil One and rescue you.

But don’t forget your own cluelessness. So often, you’re safe, because Jesus is on the case. Never underestimate the collective stupidity of a flock of sheep that darts off in every direction at the slightest provocation, though!

All it takes is one “BOO!” and you’re off. Charging into uncharted territory thinking it is safer there than with the Good Shepherd. Soon enough though, He appears with His staff ready to pull you out of the mess you’ve gotten yourselves into.

Remember when St. Peter thought that forgiving someone seven times was the height of grace? And Jesus said, “Nope. SEVENTY times seven!” That’s how it works with your Good Shepherd. You’re in the valley of the shadow of death. Living this life, knowing that traps and danger are all around, and your Lord Jesus keeps coming into the fray to save you, to deliver you, to snatch you from the clutches of death and destruction.

Yes, the valley of the shadow of death is frightening. But Jesus has already been there for you. He’s made it a safe passage. And He will lead you through to the other side in safety. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

And so through all the length of days Thy goodness faileth never; Good Shepherd may I sing Thy praise Within Thy house forever! (LSB 709:6)

– Pastor Duane Bamsch is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Grass Valley, CA.

Audio Reflections Speaker: Pastor Jonathan Lackey is the pastor at Grace Lutheran Church, Vine Grove, Ky.

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