Tomorrow is the fourth Sunday of Easter. In this Gospel passage Jesus tells us that the good shepherd is willing to lay down his life for his sheep. He emphasizes this by saying that he lays down his life willingly. Jesus knows that in a world in which we daily face the consequences of sin, we are terrorized by what we have experienced and continue to experience. That is why he laid down his life for us—to save us from an eternity of facing those consequences.
This is a meditation on this Gospel from one of my sisters:
After showing the film Gran Torino to a group of people, I asked them how they would explain it to someone who had never seen it. One man shot up his hand and said without hesitation, “it was about Jesus giving his life for me.”
In Gran Torino, Walt Kowalski saves his Hmong neighbors, Sue and Thao, from the ongoing threat of gang violence. He confronts the armed gang members, knowing that they will most likely open fire. As he suspects, this confrontation provokes the gang members to shoot the defenseless Kowalski. After I saw the movie, I put myself in Sue and Thao’s place as they watched the lifeless body of Kowalski being placed in the ambulance. Not only were they now safe, but they also knew just how much they meant to Kowalski. They were worth so much to him that he had been willing to die for them. While it is true that Kowalski is not Jesus, stories like this can help us understand what Jesus did for us.
Jesus’ life and death are God’s way of communicating to us how much we mean to him, how much he loves us. Jesus knows us intimately because he too knows what it is like to face the consequences of sin. He knows how terrifying it is. And to save us from that, he laid down his life for us. He loves us to the point of death.
If you have enjoyed this meditation, you’ll find meditations on all the Gospels of the Easter season in Easter Grace.