Posted by Paul Edwards (Fr. Paul) on May 01, 2014 | Comments (0)

Fourth Sunday in Easter

Click here to go to the Bottom Line Meditations for the Fourth Sunday in Easter

Godly Abiding Spiritually in Jesus Changes the Meaning of What we See Worldly When Not Abiding in Jesus.

Spirituality is our innate ability to feel the difference worldly or godly thinking makes to the way scripture translates to our daily life and relationships.

All Scripture is a testimony to Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God. He is the complete revelation of God’s will of grace for salvation. Grace is the only unfailing rule of faith and practice for the Christian life.

The Gospel of grace is: rather than trying to be more faithful to become faithful, we become faithful by feeling the Faith God already has for and in us.

The Strength of Christianity is Grace

John 1:14 “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

Another name for Jesus is "Grace". Another name for God is "Grace". We are saved by GRACE. "Love" is not Love if it is not grace. This is true for "Faith", "Hope", "Joy" and all other theological words of significance in the scripture.

Until someone experiences the grace gift in their lives, all other theological words have no real meaning. Why not begin to use the word "grace" in place of "Jesus", "God", "the Spirit", "Love" and so on? It might seem inappropriate to do so. However, until it is actually experienced it will make no sense at all.

That is what this year is all about. Grace, did you get it?

Finding Grace in Our Life

There are a million and one excuses for not being in the grace. Some are real killers.

We never know whether we are in the grace or not until we know the difference it can make.


Prayers from Forward Day by Day.

Read this prayer literally for its religious meaning:

“O God, Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him and follow where he leads us.”

Now quietly move into God's Presence and pray the prayer spiritually:

“O God, Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him and follow where he leads us.”

Can you feel the difference?


John 10:1-10 “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit.”

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”

One thing Jesus did was to confront those who did not believe Him. In His time it was the Pharisees. They were easy targets. He did not try to convince them as much as He used them as illustration for those who were open to the Truth. Otherwise, He would only be wasting His time because they just did not get it. When He told the story of the Prodigal Son, some wonder why He added the character of the older brother. It was because He was talking directly to the Pharisees at that time. They teased Him, wondering why He would join the sinners and not their righteous group. He pointed out there was a party going on. You, like the older brother, are sitting outside bitter and angry and not coming in to celebrate. 

He told the story of the untalented person who hid what little they had, the workers in the field who discounted others in need because they did not do as much and they did, the “friends” who turned down the invitations to the King’s Son’s wedding Banquet. “When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus' parables, they knew he was talking about them.” Matthew 21:45

We miss this point when we only read the scripture literally. The literal evidence is the Good Shepherd and not the hired hand. He gives His life for the sheep. He is the Door and the Gate. End of the story as it has been told most of the time.

Now wait a minute! You should know better. Especially when reading John’s Gospel. Let’s go back and start over.

First of all for starters we know this is about Jesus who is grace and Truth.

Secondly, always put it in context, meaning we go back to verse one of Chapter Ten. Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you Pharisees.”  The Pharisees included the spiritual leaders of their time. They were known not to be sharp with spiritual understanding.

What is the common red thread with a Shepherd, the sheep, His life, the door and the gate? They all have to do with grace. The gate and the door both give us the freedom to move about free from bonds of the Law. The Sheep are like us when we are in His Presence. We hear His voice of Truth and we follow Him. If we are out of His Presence, we do not hear His voice nor do we know the Truth. The Shepherd is Jesus who controls the gate, the sheep and His life. Life can be either physical or spiritual. In this case it is spiritual. His Life is the grace He gives to us. Our Life is abundant when we live in His unconditional and inclusive Presence.

Like it was mentioned, the Pharisees are not spiritually sharp. They do not get the fact that they are the hired hands who desert the sheep in time of difficulty. Unconditional, inclusive Grace is a gate that must permit legalism to come in, or it cannot be grace. Exclusive conditional legalism does not permit grace. Literal thinking will see the hireling in some imaginary role. Spiritual understanding knows the hireling is real.

When our lives get into turmoil it is either a sign we are leading or being led in the wrong direction. We cannot tell if we are leading or being led into legalism if we do not know the difference between the legalism and grace. The only way we can ever know if we are on the way of grace is to know the difference between grace and legalism.

Knowing John and Jesus, we must look at each and every word to digest both the physical and the spiritual meaning. Take the world “enter”. Right away we think about moving physically into something. We then try to enter grace by following the Law. Spiritually we know this is not the way to do it. We enter grace by opening up the conscious heart. The grace is already there. It is you and I who are not there all of the time. Spiritually we do not move one inch to enter. In this case the word “enter” means to let grace out by opening ourselves up and into His Presence.

One thing we must always be aware of is our relationship to the Pharisees and Sadducees. We are the ones who, because of our anger, arrogance and self-pity, refuse to join the life of the Party. We need to wonder what difference being in the Party of the Love of the Good Shepherd would make. Who do we depend on to open the gate to our life: the hired hand of Legalism or The grace of the good Shepherd?

Do you feel the difference?

THE DISCIPLE-SHIFT: The Virtual Small Group: Members share once a week with their group through the internet when a shift from being out to being in the Presence made a difference.

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