NORMAN — Is Jesus the shepherd (John) or the lamb (Revelation)?
The Rev. Perry Sukstorf, pastor, Redeemer Lutheran Church: When interpreting the scriptures, context is king. As we approach the Book of John and the good shepherd passage, we see Jesus asserting his divine nature.
He is proving that he is over all of creation and, therefore, king and judge as well, especially when he speaks to those (Pharisees) who will not trust him with that authority.
But then he sheds light on how he reigns; as a shepherd with a calming voice and protective hand and vigilance. Western sheep herders drive sheep, pushing them forward with dogs or horses. Eastern sheep herders lead sheep by forming a relationship with them.
The good shepherd calls, and we follow, heading home to the promised land of a new heaven and a new earth.
Moving to Revelation, we must remember that this book is written in the apocalyptic style popular of that day, decades after the Ascension of Christ.
For those who were Christians it would be clear that the Lamb of God was Jesus who fulfilled the need for a Savior. The one who was sinless suffered the punishment for those who sinned.
The Passover lamb for eternity had been given over to death so that all who were marked with the blood of the lamb, not on their doorposts as they had done on the eve of the exodus in Egypt, but in their heart, would be saved from destruction.
The poem in Revelation 7:15-17, interestingly, says the lamb that was slain will actually become the shepherd, leading those who were washed in the blood of the lamb to peaceful pastures void of sadness and sorrow.
In short, there is no contradiction, Christ was both shepherd and lamb of God.
The Rev. Marcia C. Fleischman, senior pastor, Broadway Church: In the Gospel of John, Jesus refers to himself as the good shepherd. In the book of Revelation he is referred to as the lamb. These terms are not contradictory but they point us to ways that we describe concepts.