Do the Right Thing: Trust Jesus
Opening Question: Have you ever tried to talk someone out of doing something wrong? What happened?
First Reading: Acts 2:14,36-41
Brad loved his computer games, especially the ones his parents didn’t want him to play. His parents didn’t like violent games, where the player had to shoot his way out of a maze. Brad snuck every chance he got to play the game at his house or a friend’s house. Even when he played outside, he pretended he was a character in the game.
One day, Brad and his friend, Sam, were playing outside, as characters in a computer game. Brad ran into Sam’s garage. Sam was not far behind. Sam turned on a small light, turned to Brad, and whispered, “Brad, you want to see something? Look here!” Sam opened a chest that had a broken lock. Brad’s eyes opened wide. “This is my dad’s rifle collection,” Sam whispered. “Go ahead,” Sam challenged Brad, “pick one up.”
Brad stepped back. “No,” Brad whispered back, “ I don’t feel good about this. Close the chest. Let’s leave.” Brad knew the difference between play and serious, between pretend and real.
“You’re chicken!” Sam replied.
That didn’t matter to Brad. He turned around and left quietly.
Brad had the wisdom to know the difference between right and wrong. He tried to talk his friend out of doing the wrong thing. When that didn’t work, he had the courage to turn away. Like Brad, Peter tried to talk the people into turning away from the wrong things. How would people do this? They would turn to Jesus and trust in him.
Bridging Question: How many of you have ever waited for a ride? Did you feel better when someone picked you up?
Gospel: John 10:1-10
Jesus told the Pharisees:
Listen! The thief doesn’t enter the sheep pen through the gate. He climbs in another way. But the shepherd of the flock enters through the gate. The guard will open the gate for the shepherd. Then, the shepherd will call his own sheep, each by name. They will hear his voice and follow him out. After the shepherd gathers all his sheep outside the pen, he leads them. His sheep follow him because they know the sound of his voice. The sheep won’t follow a stranger. No, they will run away because they don’t know the sound of the stranger’s voice.
Jesus used the image about the shepherd, but the Pharisees didn’t understand what Jesus was talking about. So, Jesus told them in a different way:
Listen! I am the gate the flock enters! Everyone else is a robber. But the sheep don’t listen to them. I am the gate! If anyone enters God’s Kingdom through me will find God’s life! They will go back and forth freely. And they will find pasture. The thief only comes to destroy my flock. But, I came to give life to my flock. God’s life!
Jade peered out the window by the cold drizzle. She enjoyed after-school day care, but now she stood by herself, freezing, tired, and hungry. “When is mom going to get here?” she thought over and over.
Waiting seemed to go on forever. Jade began to day-dream about a warm house, a full dinner, and big hug. But, Jade felt so lonely, she would even welcome the sound of her mom’s voice.
“Are you alright?” Miss Chambers asked. Yes, Jade shook her head up and down. “Is there anything I can get you?” No, Jade shook her head back and forth. Miss Chambers quietly left Jade to her thoughts. Of course, Jade knew the truth. No, she wasn’t alright. Yes, Miss Chambers could get her mom.
Suddenly, a green mini-van pulled into the parking lot. And Jade’s face changed from sullen to glowing. She ran, picked up her book bag, and stood by the door. “Mom!” Jade shouted with glee.
“Hi, little one,” her mom responded. Oh, those words! Jade could not have heard any better words in the world. Jade felt safe with the person she loved.
When they reached the mini-van, Jade’s mom surprised her with a new sing-along tape and a snack. Jade tore into both packages. Her mom put the tape into the deck. Jade ate through the first song, then joined her mom singing the second song. Jade felt secure with her mom, satisfied with the snack, and happy singing the song. As the two drove off, both Jade and her mom’s heads bopped back and forth to the music. A dreary afternoon wait turned into a fun ride home.
We have people in our lives with which we feel secure. These people help us feel comfortable in our world. They can be parents and grandparents, teachers and coaches, ministers and church helpers. We feel safe with these people because we trust them to be nice to us and care for us. We trust them to help us be happy.
Jesus is a person we can trust. Like a shepherd, he leads us to safe places and loving people. Like a gate, he allows us to come and go in security. Yes, there are dangerous people out there. But, if we stay close to the people we love, and the people who love Jesus, we will be safe and happy.
Follow Jesus, the shepherd. Trust Jesus, the sheep gate.
Closing Question: How can you show others that you trust Jesus?