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Homily for the fourth Sunday of Easter (Year C) – Good Shepherd Sunday

Updated: May 5, 2022

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Good morning bus riders!


We have reached the half-way point of the Easter season. Today is the fourth Sunday of Easter.


For those of you who read the lessons for today in advance, you will know that the theme of shepherding is presented. For that reason, today is known as Good Shepherd Sunday.


This past week, I asked myself, “Why is Good Shepherd Sunday during the Easter season?” So, I asked that question to the Internet.


All I found was Good Shepherd Sunday was when readings were about Jesus being the good shepherd.


In the realm of logic and critical thinking, that is called a “circular argument” or “circular reasoning.”


It says basically, “If A then B is true, conversely if B then A is true.” It becomes a circle that is meaningless.


Relative to my question, a circular argument says: Good Shepherd Sunday (A) is when the church readings are about Jesus being the good shepherd (B). Conversely, readings on Sunday telling about Jesus being the good shepherd says that is Good Shepherd Sunday.


Neither is a false statement. It just does not satisfy the argument that asks why does this occur in the Easter season? The Internet did not satisfy that question with an answer.


The Easter season (also called Eastertide) is defined as “When the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated.”


The concept of “the resurrection of Jesus” within another soul is not accepted as the meaning of the Easter season. Because of that rejection of meaning the Internet cannot tell me:


The reason Good Shepherd Sunday is in the Easter season is because the resurrection

of the soul of Jesus within the soul of a follower means that follower is a member of

Yahweh’s flock and Yahweh has sent His Son to shepherd that soul and all others like it.


When the Easter season is when the resurrection of Jesus is celebrated, the only way to see Jesus celebrated in the readings chosen to be read today (chosen long ago by church elders) is to see Jesus having been risen within others. The lessons today celebrate the resurrection of Jesus as the good shepherd that guides one’s soul.


With that said, let’s look at the mandatory reading from Acts this week. In it there is no mention of Jesus at all. The story is in line with the theme of Easter being Jesus raising the souls of others from the dead. Thus, Jesus is unnamed, but the power risen within Peter, which allowed Tabitha to be raised from the dead.


Can you see how Peter had to be Jesus reborn, in order to work this miracle?


<Look for nodding heads and astonished faces.>


Now when we read about Tabitha (a.k.a. Dorcas), we are told: “She was devoted to good works and acts of charity.”


The Greek word that has been translated as “devoted” actually means “abounding” or “completely occupied with.” Basically, it says she was “full up with good works.”


Tabitha was a true Christian. This means when Jesus said “only God is good,” Tabitha was “full up” with the Spirit of Yahweh, as a soul married to Him. Thus, as a soul directed by the Spirit, Tabitha did as directed. She was Jesus reborn.


When we are told “she became ill and died,” this should be seen as a sudden illness that quickly took her life. This says that we are all mortals; so, even saints “get ill and die.”


When we learn that Tabitha’s body had been prepared for burial, and placed upstairs in a room, to send a message to Peter that says, “Please come to us without delay,” this does not mean anyone expected Peter to raise Tabitha from death.


The people surrounding Tabitha were also Christians, most likely having been converted by Peter, establishing a relationship between them all. The message calling Peter would have been so he could be present at her funeral, since they learned he was not far away.


When Peter arrived and met all the people who were grieving Tabitha’s passing, we read: “Peter put all of them outside, and then he knelt down and prayed.”


Here, it is important to realize Peter was one of the disciples who had to ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. Rather than think Peter learned and practiced good praying, one should see how the soul of Jesus raised up within Peter and took control over him.


When we read the story of Jesus going to the home of Jarius, because his little girl was gravely ill, when they got there they were confronted by those saying, “She has died.” Jesus said she was only sleeping, which caused them to laugh at him. In that case, Jesus likewise sent everyone outside.


When Jesus taught his disciples to pray, his first instruction was, “when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father who is unseen.”


This becomes important to realize, when so many so-called faith healer evangelists make huge stage productions about laying hands on and having miraculous powers. When they pray, it is with a microphone before their mouths, and some sound system that amplifies every word they say to a paying audience.


There are ten references in the Bible to dead bodies being raised (with Jesus being one of the ten) and there is an element of privacy found in all of them.


Still, all of these miracles where one was raised from the dead needs to be seen as the hand of Yahweh being in force, where one who was filled with the soul of His Son (and Jesus certainly was that, even in death) played a key role in that miracle.


The reason the Easter season has mandatory readings from the Acts of the Apostles is the Apostles acted as Jesus reborn. They had all been raised from the dead (with death without salvation reflecting a souls walking towards repeated deaths) by having the soul of Jesus resurrected within them. Thus, we read about Peter being possessed by the same soul that speaks to Yahweh, as His Son, who can arrange such acts to take place.


In terms of Good Shepherd Sunday, Tabitha was one of God’s flock. Those who contacted Peter are called “the saints kai the widows,” which says they too were of Yahweh’s flock. They were all “set apart by God,” as “sacred” AND they all were “widows” for having sacrificed their souls – their selves – leaving behind souls whose only Husband was Yahweh’s Spirit. They were all “widows” of sin in the material realm.


Peter was the Good Shepherd because his soul was also a “saint kai a widow” that had been reborn as Jesus.


This element of prayer to Yahweh must be seen as vital, when salvation of a soul and the promise of eternal life is desired. Yahweh is the one who raises souls from the death of being trapped within a body of flesh.


Peter knelt and prayed to Yahweh, as Jesus. Yahweh raised Tabitha from death.


This is confirmed in Psalm 23, which is a standard fixture for Good Shepherd Sunday.


When the translation we all learn says, “The Lord is my shepherd,” go search the Internet looking for pictures of that song of praise. Everything you see depicts Jesus with a lamb in his arms. That imagery says “Jesus is my shepherd.”

One example of many.


While David knew the Hebrew word “Yeshua” meant “Yah saves,” he never knew Jesus of Nazareth (born in Bethlehem). David wrote, “Yahweh is my shepherd.”


The imagery projected by Jesus being the shepherd is that where he lets the sheep do whatever they want, until they get in trouble. Then, Jesus comes to save them.


This comes from the simplicity of being taught, “Jesus died on the cross for your sins.” That makes it appear that we are all such miserable failures that we could never be like Jesus. So, Yahweh had to send His Son to die by crucifixion so us sheep can all go and play, knowing whatever troubles we get into, then Jesus is watching and will come save us from our sins.


That is not what David sang about.


When David wrote “He makes me” and “He leads me,” this is not some external suggestion. David became possessed when Yahweh poured out his Spirit unto David’s soul. David’s soul married Yahweh. Yahweh then told David’s soul what to do, so Yahweh “made David lie down in green pastures." and Yahweh "led David beside still waters.”


It is that possessive presence that is what “restored David’s soul.” The word translated as “restores” means “to turn back, return.” In other words, David’s possession of his soul (in a body of flesh) ceased to be. David’s soul was “returned” into the hands of Yahweh.


That ‘exchange program’ means eternal salvation is assured.


When David then sang, “he leads in the paths of righteousness for the purpose of his name,” “his name” is “Yahweh” and the “paths of righteousness” are the product of having one’s soul saved.


The “name” with “purpose” is Jesus – Yahweh Saves.


To then have David sing, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me,” that says the soul of David was not alone. The soul of Jesus was within his soul, so “the shadow of death” was no longer anything to fear. David had sacrificed his soul to Yahweh; so, Yahweh sent David’s soul the Good Shepherd.


This is known by his adding, “your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Those are the tools of a shepherd. The “rod” keeps a soul from straying too far; and, the “staff” is the tool of rescue.


When Peter was called to say his goodbyes to Tabitha, it was his “staff” of prayer that returned Tabitha’s soul to her flesh. The “shadow of death” was removed and she was "comforted."


When David sang, “You spread a table before me in the presence of those who trouble me,” this is the ministry that those who are led by the soul of Jesus enter. This means Peter was no longer afraid to go to places like Joppa and Lydda. In all places there was “trouble” to face, just as a shepherd knows the flock is feeding from spiritual food amid predators.


When David sang, “you anointed my head with oil,” that is the presence of Yahweh’s Spirit, as spiritual "oil." David was literally a Messiah – in Greek, a Christ.


David’s “cup runneth over” with that Spirit of Anointment. He had plenty to share with others. The nation (a word that means the "people" thereof) he led became reflections of his marriage to Yahweh, as if he knelt beside their corpse that had followed Saul the prior king and prayed for them to “Get up.”


That “cup running over’ in Peter was how Tabitha returned to life, so she could continue to serve Yahweh as one of His saints.


By seeing this inner presence that projects outward, rather than an external God that watches our souls from afar, one can understand the vision shown to John in his Revelation.


When we read today: “I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white,” this must be understood as John having a spiritual encounter.


To me, this is reminiscent of the recent reading from Isaiah, where he saw seraphim around the throne, after King Uzziah had died. One of the seraphs spoke to Isaiah’s soul in the same way an elder spoke to John’s soul in his vision read today.


Raise your hand if you have ever had a vision of angels surrounding the throne and the Lamb.


<Look for no hands raised.>


In Isaiah’s divine vision he heard one ask, “Who shall we send?” He immediately replied, “Here I am. Send me.”


Isaiah was sent out in ministry as a prophet; and, he did not go out alone. He went with an accompanying soul within his. It is from divine possession that one has divine visions and dreams.


In the same way, John was a soul divinely filled with the soul of Jesus. So, when we read that an “elder” asked John’s soul, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” John responded by saying, “Sir, you are the one that knows.”


That is actually a bad translation. The literal English of John’s reply was this: “Lord of myself , you know .


That says this “elder” was the “Lord” over John’s soul and body. The “Lord” of John’s soul was Jesus. This means an “elder” – a “presbyterōn” – was the “mature influence of seasoned judgment” (HELPS Word-studies) that was the inner presence in John’s soul that was a Yahweh elohim, making John be an “adonay,” or a teacher of Yahweh on earth.


When it earlier says all those dressed in white robes held “palm branches in their hands,” that (again) is a bad translation.


Rather than “palm branches,” the word “phoinikes” means “palm trees,” more specifically “date palms.” As “trees” they were living, not dead branches. As living trees, they were producers of good fruit. Thus, the use of “hands of themselves” (where “themselves” equates to “their souls”) means those living “palm trees” were the “hands” of Yahweh on earth (or in the flesh).


This has to be seen as a marriage of the souls that serve Yahweh, having received his Spirit, so they wear “white robes.” John was one of their countless numbers. Each was led by an “elder,” with all of the “elders” being Jesus – or the Lamb.


When the “elder” told John’s soul, “the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them,” the throne is the Spirit of Yahweh placed within one’s soul. Yahweh is the King, and the throne is His. However, the “one who is seated on the throne” will be the Lamb, of Jesus’ soul.


This then led to the “elder” adding, “the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd.” This says the Lamb is Jesus, the Good Shepherd, “Good” because he is seated on the throne of Yahweh – the Father.


This confirms that the “shepherd” is not external to one’s being, but within one’s soul, where the throne of Yahweh is. When the Lamb is seated on that throne, the shepherd will be within one’s soul; and, that inner presence is how one gets raised from the dead.


Yahweh saves a soul by sending His Son to shepherd that soul to eternal life.


Now, when John wrote Revelation, he is believed to have been old and blind, imprisoned on the island of Patmos. His Gospel tells an account of Jesus’ life, told from the perspective of a boy: the son of Jesus of Nazareth.


This is how John could write about this event that took place near Herod’s Temple, on the portico of Solomon.


John was also present when Jesus prior told Jews that he was the gate to the sheepfold, while also being the good shepherd. Those remembrances are the Gospel reading selections for the fourth Sunday of Easter, in Years A and B.


In these readings, which all come from John’s tenth chapter, there are three verses that are never read aloud: verses nineteen to twenty-one.


In verse nineteen, John wrote of a “Schizma” or a “Division” or a “Split among the Jews,” based on Jesus telling them the shepherd analogy. That “Split” had half thinking Jesus was possessed with a demon, thus a “madman.” The other half said the words and miracles of Jesus could not be the deeds of someone possessed by demons.


Those verses then state a preexisting condition, prior to Jesus taking John to the Festival of Lights, stated as the feast of dedication. That says the Jews believed in demonic spirits possessing souls, while not having a clue that the Messiah would be the opposite: A Spirit of Yahweh possessing souls, making each become like Jesus – a Christ.


This “Schism” existed then, just as it exists today. People believe evil can possess human beings, because they see it so often, especially in the news. The only time people hear the names of Saints mentioned, they are all dead. So, nobody can fathom the season of Easter as being when the soul of Jesus – a most benevolent Spirit – can possess people, transforming them into Saints.


The Book of Acts – where we read of Peter raising Tabitha from death – tells of this transformation. Jesus being raised in those whose souls merely animated bodies of flesh, bound to die, is each Apostle’s resurrection from mortal death to eternal life.


The reward of eternal life – the true ‘Promised Land’- comes at a price. One must sacrifice one’s soul to Yahweh – become prostrate before the throne – and be reborn as Jesus – receive the elder within who will shepherd one to that end.


The “Schism” is from seeing Jesus as impossible to reproduce; and, that diminishes Yahweh to having lesser powers than Satan.


This reading today from John’s tenth chapter tells of the Jews who saw Jesus as a madman. They were fed up with Jesus making them look bad. They wanted him to confess that he was the Messiah (the Christ).


The Jews demanded that Jesus “tell them plainly.”


Here, he again used the shepherd and sheep symbolism to tell them “plainly,” “I have told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me; but you do not believe.”


Now, for Jesus to use the term “Father,” the Jews figured out that meant Yahweh, but they were not concerned about Yahweh. The wanted Jesus to confess that he was the promised Messiah … which none of them believed would ever come.


Before the conversation got to that aspect of Jesus referring to Yahweh as his “Father” (which the Jews did not do), Jesus brought up the shepherding metaphor, saying their inability to believe Jesus “plainly” was because, “you do not belong to my sheep.”


In that, the Greek stated by Jesus is four words, all in the Genitive case, denoting possession, which literally says, “of this of sheep of this of myself.” The last word can simply mean “mine,” where the possessive is understood.


That “plainly” told the Jews (in plain spiritual terms), "my soul does not possess you, making you mine – as the Father’s sheep – entrusted to me to shepherd."


When Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me,” this is spoken just like the “elder” spoke to John’s soul, saying, “the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them.” Now, this guidance is an inner voice, not Jesus standing in front of Jews who disbelieve.


If Jesus told those Jews what to do, they would not do it. That says they were not his sheep. They refused to be guided by the external voice of Jesus.


To think those Jews were any different than most Christians are today is to be naïve.


The same view today is held by Christians, as seen in the verses that extend beyond what is read today. The Jews picked up stones to use to kill Jesus, saying he spoke “blasphemy.” The reason for that judgment was said to be, “because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.”


They came to that conclusion because Jesus called Yahweh his “Father.” That made Jesus be the “Son of God.” The Jews were going to prove Jesus wrong by stoning the life out of him, which would be impossible if he indeed were the “Son of God.”


In the story we read last Sunday, about Saul’s conversion, he was on his way to Damascus with permission letters to bind all those who claimed to be Jesus reborn. After Ananias touched Saul and Baptized him with the Spirit, Saul went into the assemblies claiming Jesus was the Son of God. Saul knew that because the soul of Jesus was within his soul, speaking that truth through Saul’s lips.


Saul said, "I am the Son of God because I am Jesus reborn!"


That has to be seen as the meaning of Jesus telling the Jews, “What my Father has given me is greater than all else, and no one can snatch it out of the Father’s hand. The Father and I are one.”


This is no different from the elder telling John’s soul, “the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd.” The “Lamb at the center of the throne” means “the Father and I are one,” when one sees the “throne” as the “Father” and the “Lamb” as Jesus. The meaning of “at the center” (actually translating as “upwards in the midst”) is within one’s soul. It is not external or physical. It is divine presence within one’s soul.


This is why the truth of the Easter season says Jesus has raised from the dead in others, when he told the Jews, “The works that I do in my Father's name testify to me.” The “Father’s name” is “Jesus." That name was told to Mary the moment she conceived divinely. The name “Jesus” means “Yah[weh] Will Save” or “Yah[weh] Saves.”


The works that testify to that “name” are Peter raising Tabitha from death. They testify to David’s song of praise, when he sang, “He revives my soul and guides me along right pathways for his Name's sake.” They testify to John’s soul being told by an “elder,” “These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”


The ”great ordeal” better translates as “great tribulation,” but the Greek word translating as “persecution, affliction, distress, or tribulation” properly means: “pressure (what constricts or rubs together), used of a narrow place that "hems someone in"; tribulation, especially internal pressure that causes someone to feel confined (restricted, "without options").” (HELPS Word-studies)


The ”great pressure without options” is life on earth. The Jews that encircled Jesus on the portico of Solomon were feeling that pressure to get rid of Jesus, because his preaching and miracles were making them look bad. They could not do such things; and, Jesus doing them in front of witnesses made the witnesses expect such things.


Those who come out of life’s “great pressures” – strong influences to sin and then sin some more – are those whose souls have been “washed” by Yahweh’s Baptism by the Spirit. That makes those filthy, dirty souls become bright white … pure … saintly. A soul is then the "robe" worn around a body of flesh.


The “blood of the Lamb” is Jesus as the sacrificial Lamb of the Passover. To spread the “blood of the Lamb” on one’s doorpost means to be reborn as Jesus. That lets Yahweh know to “pass over” one’s soul, saving the life of those possessed by Yahweh's firstborn male [Adam-Jesus].


The firstborn male is Adam, the Son of Yahweh. His soul is that of Jesus, who saves souls from death … as long as those souls have likewise sacrificed themselves unto Yahweh, as His wives. A wife-soul gives birth to the resurrected soul of the firstborn; and, that resurrection marks one’s doorpost.


Jesus said, “I am the door.”


He is a door marked with the “blood of the Lamb.” That "blood" says the soul within has become “Doubly Fruitful” – the meaning of “Ephraim,” who Jeremiah wrote of Yahweh saying, “Ephraim is my firstborn.”


Ephraim will be spared in the angel of death’s pass over.


Since we have a few moments before the bus arrives, it is important to remember that David sang, “Yahweh is my shepherd.”


One must be possessed by Yahweh, before Jesus can be born in one’s soul. The throne must be installed within, before the Lamb can be seated on it. The Jews that surrounded Jesus and picked up stones to kill him considered themselves to be ‘children of God.’


Saul, who persecuted the first resurrections of Jesus – those in souls born into different bodies of flesh – wrote (as Paul, read not too long ago) that he had every official document in the Judaic world that said he was a Jew of the highest pedigree. He listed everything that the Jews who tried to stone Jesus to death also could claim as their right … as 'children of God.'


Paul then said all of that was a loss, once he was Anointed by Yahweh (made a Christ).


Saul was a goat pretending to be a sheep in Yahweh's flock, just like all those Jews holding stones on the portico of Solomon. All those Jews were actually Gentiles pretending to be the flock of Yahweh.


Paul became a lost sheep of Yahweh's flock, who was found by His Son, the Good Shepherd. Paul was returned to the sheepfold, through the door that is Jesus.


Paul wrote that in his letter to the Philippians, for us to read and reread, so we do not fall into the trap of saying, “I am a Christian because I was born to Christian parents, baptized in a Christian church, taught all the Bible stories in children’s church, and having attended church all my life (except when on vacation).”


That is like being Yahweh’s ‘high school sweetheart,’ but never getting around to swearing an oath of total submission to Him … because of the “great tribulations” life heaps upon all our shoulders.


If it were not for Yahweh’s plan to send His Son to die as a human body of flesh, so his soul would be free to resurrect countless times over in the souls of disciples – “I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, all living producers of good fruit as His hands on earth” – then there would be no one keeping the flock from straying and getting eaten by wolves.


“Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I shall fear no evil; for you are with me; your rod and your staff they comfort me.”


We are dead men and women walking, without being Jesus reborn. We are mortals bound for death. Our bodies of flesh cannot be saved for eternity. Only our souls can be forever saved; but that means we must also sacrifice and die of self first, so we can receive the name of marriage and give birth to Yahweh's Son again in the flesh.


The Easter season is about being raised from the dead, so “God will wipe away every tear from our eyes.”


I see the bus coming now; so, I’ll end here.


Think about these lessons on your own time. Remember what I have shared with you today. I hope you all have a fruitful coming week. I look forward to seeing you again next Sunday.


Amen

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