Collect for the Fourth Sunday of Easter: Almighty God, merciful Father, since You have wakened from death the Shepherd of Your sheep, grant us Your Holy Spirit that when we hear the voice of our Shepherd we may know Him who calls us each by name and follow where He leads; through the same Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer for unity of faith: O God, Your infinite love restores to the right way those who err, seeks the scattered, and preserves those whom You have gathered. Of Your tender mercy pour out on Your faithful people the grace of unity that, all schisms being ended, Your flock may be gathered to the true Shepherd of Your Church and may serve You in all faithfulness; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Prayer for pastors and their people: O almighty God, by Your Son, our Savior, You have always given to Your Church on earth faithful shepherds to guide and feed Your flock. Therefore we pray, make all pastors diligent to preach Your holy Word and to administer Your means of grace, and grant Your people wisdom to follow in the way that leads to life eternal; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer for comfort to the dying: O Lord, our Shepherd, lead Your sheep in goodness and mercy as we pass with You through the valley of the shadow of death to Your eternal home, where You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Prayer for comfort in hope of the resurrection: Lord God, our shepherd, You gather the lambs of Your flock into the arms of Your mercy and bring them home. Comfort us with the certain hope of the resurrection to everlasting life and a joyful reunion with those we love who have died in the faith; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
The Good Shepherd Cares for His Sheep
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came from the Father and became flesh among us in order to rescue us, His sheep. He laid down His life for us and took it up again in order to give us eternal life. By the preaching of His Gospel, He calls His sheep to Himself and keeps them with Him forever. As they hear His voice and follow Him, “they will never perish” (John 10:28), for “no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:29). In the same way, faithful pastors (literally, “shepherds”) “care for the church of God, which He obtained with His own blood” (Acts 20:28), “testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21). Therefore, with all the company of heaven, the Good Shepherd gathers his flock in worship, as they cry: “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:10).
Monday, 15 April 2013—Psalm 78:70–72; 79:13; antiphon, John 10:14, 15b—Sunday’s theme of the Good Shepherd Who Cares for His Sheep is set by the Introit. The Good Shepherd is really a Noble Shepherd, who loves the sheep of His flock so much that He lays down His life for the sheep. He guides us with His skillful hand throughout our lives into His eternal kingdom. In response, we can do nothing else than give thanks to Him forever, and make future generations aware of all the Good Shepherd has done for them by recounting His praise, and by making known to all the salvation we have through His death and resurrection.
Tuesday, 16 April 2013—Psalm 23—All three readings for Sunday use sheep and flock imagery. It is no surprise, then, that the Psalm of the Day is the beloved Twenty-third Psalm. It speaks of the Good Shepherd, whom we know is our Lord Jesus. He brings true peace and comfort to us, even in the presence of our enemies and when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, for He has overcome all enemies. Even as our enemies—sin, death, and the devil—surround us, we take comfort in the table He has prepared before us. At the Lord’s Table, He feeds us with His body and blood, given and shed for us for the remission of all our sins. We have true peace, for we have peace with God.
Wednesday, 17 April 2013—Acts 20:17–35—The devil hates Jesus, and hates all whom He has redeemed, that is, the Christian Church. In this farewell address by St Paul to the pastors at Ephesus, where Paul had served for a year and a half, he warns that the devil will try to attack the flock of God by way of false teaching. False teaching slips into a congregation subtly, speaking things which appeal to people and their feelings, shifting the focus from what God has done for us in Christ to what we can do for God. We must ever be on our guard, that the whole counsel of God is taught among us, especially the forgiveness of sins earned for us by Jesus Christ, by the shedding of His own blood.
Thursday, 18 April 2013—Revelation 7:9–17—What a beautiful picture of the Church we have placed before us! Redeemed children of God, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages. Their white robes show that they have been cleansed by the blood of the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world. These Christians, having been called, gathered, enlightened, and sanctified by the ministrations of the Holy Spirit, now surround the throne of God and sing praises to God and to the Lamb, just as the Church on earth does in the Divine Service.
Friday, 19 April 2013—John 10:22–30—The message of the Bible is not hard to comprehend: Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into the world to redeem sinners by His perfect life, His suffering, death, and resurrection. Yet, many do not believe. They reject the words and deeds of Jesus because of the hardness of their hearts, just as many people rejected Him when He walked the earth 2,000 years ago, despite seeing His works and hearing His teaching. But the members of His Church, His flock, hear the voice of their shepherd, and He gives them eternal life.
Saturday, 20 April 2013—The sheep/shepherd imagery is carried forth also into the Hymn of the Day, The King of Love My Shepherd Is (LSB #709). This is a hymnic version of the Twenty-third Psalm, married to a pretty Irish tune.
Prayers from Lutheran Service Book © 2006 Concordia Publishing House
The icon on the cover shows Jesus as the Good Shepherd. In the upper corners, we see the stylized letters IC and XC, which are abbreviations for Jesus Christ in Greek. The Greek words on either side of the head of Christ say Ο ΠΟΙΜΗΝ Ο ΚΑΛΟΣ, meaning “The Good Shepherd.” The Painting comes from Google Images by the artist Dyce