Monday of Easter IV – Prayer of the Week

Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit that when we hear the voice of our Shepherd we may know Him who calls us each by name and follow where He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

This is one of our earliest depictions of Jesus. It is from the tombs outside of Rome called the Catacombs. They were not really where Christians hid from persecution as you may have learned. They were just cemeteries where Christians buried their loved ones. They adorned them with pictures of Jesus, much like cemeteries today have crosses and sometimes images of lambs, lilies, or other symbols.

This image does not quite fit our picture of what Jesus is supposed to look like. This is a youth, a rather stereotypical shepherding type in the ancient world. He has a lamb over his shoulder. It is the Good Shepherd depicted here. But he does not have the familiar beard and what my Sunday School curriculum imagined to be the dress of a first century rabbi. He looks like he might fit into a Roman scene painted in Pompeii or one of the recently excavated villa mosaics in England.

But we do not really know what Jesus looked like and we really do not know exactly what he will look like on that last day. But he assures us that we will know him. We will recognize the voice, not the face so much. Shepherds will tell you that sheep do not see so well, but they do have good hearing. He has been talking to you in sermons, scripture, forgiveness wherever you experience it, and in any who loved you in His name.

This week we celebrate the fact that God has raised our Good Shepherd from death and given him to us. We are able to hear his voice in all sorts of places. We will know him on that last day when he calls the dead to life. We will hear and recognize him. It will be glorious and good.

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