The first lesson continues our reading through the story of the earliest Church in the book of Acts. Tabitha, who was devoted to good works and charity in her hometown of Joppa, became ill and died. Two men among the disciples were sent to fetch Peter, who came and knelt beside her body and prayed and then said, “Tabitha, get up.” And she opened her eyes and sat up! This miracle of God works through this man Jesus has chosen as the rock on which the Church is built to accomplish two vital things: assurance that the resurrection of Jesus will be extended to his faithful followers, and belief in the Lord among many who heard of it.
The fulfillment of that promise of a new creation in the resurrection is depicted in our reading from the book of Revelation. There, we see the great uncountable multitude from all every nation and people, standing before the Lamb and the throne of God. The Lamb, Jesus, who had been killed violently and restored to life, has made their robes white, and he has now become their shepherd, leading his sheep to “springs of the water of life” and banishing all sorrow and death.
Jesus explains his role as the shepherd in the gospel reading from John. Jesus says that his sheep “know his voice,” and he knows them, and they follow him. He will protect them from death, over which he has power, just as his Father demonstrated power over death in raising Jesus from death. The promise is eternal life, which is to be found in Jesus. How do we claim that life? By listening to the shepherd’s voice. His voice doesn’t demand things of us or tell us what to do. His voice tells us that he loves us; he calls us each by name and tells us that we belong to him. Eternal life is found in that love.
Can you hear Jesus’ voice above the noise in your life? How can each of us follow it in concrete, specific ways? Come this Sunday, and you can hear the voice of love in scripture and song and prayer. You can take it with you into your week, to share with others.