The Blue Mountains Franciscan Church
Sermon preached at Springwood by
Br Andrew on Sunday 10th April 2016
Third Sunday of Easter year C
Readings third Sunday of Easter
The hymn of Praise and accolade sung by the living creatures and the elders is part of what is known by we Franciscans as the Divine Praises and its something Francis asked his followers to Pray at the beginning of every Office because, I believe, Jesus as Lamb of God is a crucial part in the Theology of Salvation. That is why we recited it as our Psalm today in true Franciscan Tradition.
Lamb is something we have been eating, so to speak, ever since the first Passover when the blood of the lamb smeared around the door frame saved the Hebrews from death. The grotesque lamb we meet in our Second reading has 7 horns and 7 eyes and looks as though it has been slaughtered, it stands with the elders between the Creatures and the Throne. Its name is the Lamb of God, he is Jesus who has taken away the sins of the world, when this Lamb was slaughtered, whose blood flowed freely to earth people from every tribe and nation on earth were ransomed by that blood and the whole earth which it sanctified sang praises to the Lamb. It is an Apocryphal reading, full of symbolism, written as a message for those at the time, and perhaps for later -we can carry this through on Friday at Bible study because there isn’t time now.
If Jesus is the Lamb of God and our Saviour, then who are we?
Our question is answered as we watch the encounter between Jesus and Peter unfold.
“Before the cock crows twice you will deny me thrice” Jesus had said against Peter’s loud denials that he would never forsake him, yet Peter had denied him and at cock crow Peter broke down and wept. This is why the threefold question to Peter of “Do you love me”
- Peter do you love me more than these?
- Feed my Lambs
- Do you love me?
- Tend my Sheep
- Despite the fact that Peter had denied Jesus he took umbrage because Jesus asked him for the third time whether he loved him and said to Jesus – “You know everything, you know I love you” (as Jesus had known that Peter would deny him and as Peter now realized the importance of his own words)
- Feed my sheep.
Jesus is the Lamb of God, we are his Sheep, his Lambs and Peter was another Type of Lamb of God/Type of Christ who took Jesus’ place when he ascended into heaven. Another Sheep, one experienced enough to take care of his own.
We, like Peter and the other disciples are no more than sheep, rather we must become so in our faithfulness to follow the ways of Jesus. Whether we follow him within or without the metaphors whatever he is we seek to become.
Jesus defines two types of Christians for us when he places the early church in Peter’s charge-, the Lambs, or babes in Christ, new Christians, and the adult lamb or Sheep, corresponding to the mature Christian. New Christians or young children in the Church are to be fed on milk Paul said to the Christians in Corinth 1 Corinthians 3:2 “I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for solid food. Even now you are still not ready,” Lambs suckle from their mother’s until they are weaned then they can eat in the pastures. Sometimes even when a Christian ought to be more mature in the faith they are not that is why the Sheep need tending, a Minister in Religion or even a fellow Christian can never stop caring and tending to the needs of our fellows just because someone has been in the Community for a long time or we know them to be Christians for some time they – we, may, still need a simpler way to follow, still need milk rather than solid food.
Jesus said to Peter “Feed my sheep” Peter gained this special knowledge about how to deal with the individuals in his care because Jesus commissioned him and if you recall had made him the Rock to build the church on and by this I do not believe the current hierarchical systems have anything to do with what Jesus wanted of Peter.
In Peter’s own words, the aim of the mature Christian is to become once again like a child, a lamb, 1 Peter 2:2 Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation—“ It is by way of attaining a particular balance of growth into Christian Maturity followed by the attainment of the humility of Christ that transforms us into “lambs” with wisdom, or another one or more of those 7 gift’s of the Holy Spirit represented, for arguments sake by the 7 horns of the Lamb of God. So we are called to be other Christ’s, as in the past, this won’ t be a walk in the meadow, as Peter is to discover.
Jesus then comments, that in the past Peter had had the independence of one who dressed himself and went wherever he wanted to and when he wanted to, the illustration used is Peter putting his own belt on. In the end this will not be so because someone will bind him with his belt and take him somewhere he would rather not go, will bind him to a cross in preparation for crucifixion.
I Googled for information regarding the metaphorical meaning of “belts” in the Gospels, the belt represents Truth, and the Word of God, is part of the armour of God mentioned by Paul in Ephesians 6:14. Stand firm, therefore, having fastened the belt of truth around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness I S V.
Peter, this is the Truth, you are, girded with Truth and guardian of my Word and what I have prophesied is true, Peter, you will glorify God through your death on the cross, because I who am Truth have said so? Understanding the symbolism of his times I think Peter would have understood clearly.
Then Jesus says follow me, just as in the beginning of their journey together.
Let us also follow him, learn to place milk or liquid soy back on our diets and when we put a belt on or a bracelet recall it represents Truth and the Word of God, and realize how precious is our freedom to worship as we choose.
- Image . 2016. . [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.lds.org/bc/content/shared/content/images/gospel-library/manual/10734/jesus-christ-feed-my-sheep_1167435_inl.jpg. [Accessed 10 April 2016].