Fourth Sunday in Easter - Year A
REPENT AND BE BAPTIZED
When we hear the word "baptized" we usually think of the ritual involving water. Peter is referring to this, but also to more. The word "baptism" literally means "immersion" or "soaking". Peter may be saying that we need to totally immerse ourselves in Jesus. We have to absorb him and his life so completely that we become one person with him. A good example of this is the life shared by a wife and husband. The goal of marriage is to create one new person from two others. This unity should be so great that if one partner suffers, the other feels the same pain.
In Jesus we share not only his suffering, but also his triumph over death--and his entry into eternal life. We have to soak ourselves in Christness.
I AM THE GATE FOR THE SHEEP
Jesus often used examples from daily life to explain his teachings. Away from the Middle East in the first century, his examples may not be as compelling. Today's parable is a good example. Shepherds would have been common sights in his day. They literally gave up large portions of their lives for their flocks. Sheep are near-sighted and eat constantly. The shepherd has to live out in the wild, following them and protecting them from harm and from predators.
At night he herded them into stone enclosures that were open only one side. Since there was usually no gate for these pens, the shepherd lay his body across the entrance. He became the barrier against harm, putting his life on the line for the sheep.
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