Easter 4b – Sunday 29th April 2012
John 10: 11-18
Had a bit of a shock this week.
Went to the opticians. I only went because I was sent a free eye test voucher. Still, it’s been over three years since I last had my eyes tested, I thought, so why not. I wasn’t having any problems, but best to be on the safe side.
Went through all the pre-test rigmarole before I sat in the opticians chair facing the dreaded lines of disappearing text. However, even before we started, I could see that with my glasses on I could still make out all four lines of text, although admittedly the bottom line might involve a bit of guess work between the letter e and o!
Imagine my amazement when the optician said, “We’ll just start the test by seeing how your current glasses are functioning”, and by holding a patch over my left eye the four lines of text completely disappeared! “Can you read the bottom line?” asked the optician. I couldn’t even see the bottom line, and the top line – you know the big letters – I couldn’t make them out either! When the patch moved over my right eye I could read the first two lines without a problem, but the third and fourth were moving towards a blur of out-of-focus letters. Wow!
“I wasn’t expecting that. How come I didn’t know one eye was so bad?” I asked.
“The human brain is so good,” explained the optician, “that it compensates for the deficiency in one eye and everything seems normal.”
Twenty minutes later and new prescription in hand I order two new pairs of specs and await the day when 20:20 vision is restored.
This event was brought into focus (sorry!) as I read Jerry Goebel’s words on this week’s lectionary reading over at One Family Outreach. The reading from John 10 centres around the proclamation of Jesus that he is the Good Shepherd, and Jerry says:
Until we experience the sacrifice of love, we have no concept of what the Good Shepherd is doing. It is only when love takes us beyond our own myopic view of life that we can taste what God had in mind for us. Love that demands sacrifice gives us the only insight into how much the Good Shepherd was willing to risk for us. I am convinced that so many people in our culture have no comprehension of the power of Jesus. In our selfishness, in our concern only for our own rights, we do not know sacrifice. All of us in this culture have horribly suffered from a lack of understanding about sacrificial love.
A short-sighted view of life. I can see that – well I can’t, but I hope to when my new glasses come. But that’s my point. Our experience and understanding of life is myopic, it is blinkered, it’s not all that it should be. The love of God takes us beyond our limitations and our deficiencies.
We need to understand the depth of God’s love. We have just celebrated Easter and there is the temptation to read it as if Jesus just somehow got caught up in the midst of something and he ended up on a cross. But the whole Jesus story … especially this wonderful passage from John 10 … makes it abundantly clear that his sacrifice was planned. How can anyone want to die for someone else? Well that is sacrificial love. A concept that we find amazingly hard to comprehend, because we lead such cosseted and comfortable lives. But God loves us to such an extent that he is prepared to do anything to win us over … yes, even to the point of death. His sacrificial love makes the Good Shepherd the carer of our lives.
I might be defined by the style of glasses that sit on my nose, but God is characterised by love, love and yet more love – sacrificial love that, truly understood, takes your breath away. Graham Kendrick sings:
Come see His hands and His feet
The scars that speak of sacrifice
Hands that flung stars into space
To cruel nails surrendered.
Amazing love. Amazing grace.
By the way, the optician just rang, my new glasses are ready to pick up. No more Mr Magoo for me!