We begin today with the most often quoted Psalm of all, Psalm 23:
The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. KJV
The Psalm gives glory to God, who protects us in our daily lives. Of course, we suffer in this world. Sometimes when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we do die (but only once). That does not mean that God is not with us. God did not create us to suffer, but we chose to cut ourselves off from God, so suffering is the result. Even so, God is with us, giving us His Peace in all that we face.
In the reading from John, we see Jesus questioned yet again by the Temple authorities who put it to Jesus very bluntly: “Yes or no, are you the Messiah?” Jesus’ most direct response in the Gospels is recorded by John. I and the Father are one. CJB
We do not know the exact words spoken by Jesus, first, because he most likely spoke either Aramaic or Hebrew; and second, this was written in Greek by John 30-60 years later. It is nonetheless an authoritative statement that would be easy to remember.
The authorities heard him say he was God, but is that the actual claim? We tend to jump to that conclusion without thought, so let us think about it here. In Matthew 19:3-6, Jesus responded to the question about divorce. The key statement is: the two are united into one. NLT
The two claims of equality made by Jesus may well have the same meaning. We understand that when a man and woman marry, they do not cease to be man and woman; they do, however, become a partnership in addition to being individuals.
I believe that is the claim that Jesus made: he declared a partnership with God. He claimed to have the same relationship with God that man had with God before sin. He claimed to be a human who had not sinned.
If we believe that Jesus is, and was, God, then going to the cross was not a sacrifice. But if we accept the message of the Four Gospels, Jesus was born human and remained so all his life. In Revelation, John records seeing Jesus as distinct from God. Jesus was human.
Yet, he was the only human on earth, at least since Adam, who lived in complete and unbroken connection with God. He never did anything that God did not want him to do. More than that, Jesus always felt the warmth and presence of God. He could hear God as clearly as we hear one another. That might have been why he was sweating blood as he prayed in the Garden.
Jesus also told the authorities that he was the Messiah by saying: The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. NLT We are all known by our works. If I am one with God, I will do His work. In Acts, we read of Peter raising a woman from the dead, doing what Jesus did. We have been called to care for others in many ways, that is what God wants us to do.
We close with Revelation in the same sense that Psalm 23 began the lesson. The Lamb who is in the centre of the throne will be their shepherd and will lead them to springs of living water. Phillips Here, the water is the living water from which we will no longer thirst.
Be righteous and do good.