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FOURTH SUNDAY OF EASTER 2019

When Jesus says “The Father and I are one” in today’s Gospel from John, the Jewish leaders fetch stones preparing to stone him to death. Of the many statements that Jesus has made to them, this is perhaps the most blasphemous. In these words, he has made himself, a man, equal to God.
This statement violates every perception that the Jewish religion had about God. In many ways, the God of the Jewish is equal to an exalted king of the heavens that had human attributes without being human. He is the majestic God who sits on his throne in heaven surveying all his dominions. God has powers beyond one can imagine for he can control that he views. He is the God who is far above humans that we cannot even identify him by name. He can be the God who is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love”(Exodus 34:6). He can be the wrathful God who punishes for sins and expects a multitude of animal and grain offerings from his subjects in asking forgiveness for their sins. “A jealous and avenging God is the LORD, an avenger is the LORD, full of wrath; The LORD takes vengeance on his adversaries, and rages against his enemies” (Nahum 1:2).
Jesus, in his words and miracles, maybe a great teacher, a wise philosopher, or a prophet from God, but he cannot be the same as God for he shows none of God’s qualities. After all, he is only a carpenter’s son from an inconsequential place in Galilee. If Jesus equates himself to God, then he must be silenced by the Jews for these are blasphemous words.
When Jesus says, “The Father and I are one,” we as Christians should not view this statement as a cold doctrine of religion but as the highest expression of God love for us. As his teachings from the Scriptures are without compare, and his miracles are incontrovertible, Jesus showed us that he was from the Father. God, in his mercy for us, became man so that he could suffer as we do and die in place of us for our sins. Then to prove that Jesus is God, resurrect himself three days after his death in all of his glory.
Jesus preached the Word and performed miracles to prove to us that his words “The Father and I are one” are true. If we believe in his words, then we have only one option, to follow him as sheep follow the shepherd. In humility, we must listen and trust in Jesus for he will always protect us as our shepherd.
The significant word for us to learn in our relationship with Jesus is humility. For us to be part of his flock, we follow where he leads accepting that he guides with assuredness to bring us to the Kingdom. However, we are often like the lost sheep, which going our own way reluctant to surrender our lives into the guiding hands of the Good Shepherd. We head for the greener grass never suspecting we are about to fall into a chasm or to be eaten by wolves. The world is not a safe place without the shepherd to drive away the threats that would take our lives.
Those of us who “hear my voice and follow me” recognize that in Jesus calling to us we make a leap of faith, to place ourselves under his protection. He will he lead us through every storm, through every evil for his our God and we are his children. If we discern that God’s presence is in Jesus, and we know that we are safe because of his mercy and grace and that he will us lead to Paradise, then the words “The Father and I are one” make complete sense.

Deacon Dan Gilbert

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