I love the first four Sundays in Easter. On Easter we marvel at the words of the angels, “He has risen just as he said!” The following week we anticipate and rejoice in Thomas’ response, “My Lord and my God!” The 3rd Sunday of Easter we hear Jesus’ invitation: “Come and have breakfast.” The 4th Sunday of Easter we ponder what it means that “the LORD is my shepherd.”
What comes next? What is the focus of worship this coming Sunday? Listen to this beautiful setting of Psalm 145 which helps us see that the 5th Sunday of Easter is focused on our Shepherd-King, on the truly amazing characteristics of his kingdom, especially one of them . . .
Psalm 145 has a unique place in our lives. We use part of it as a meal prayer: “The eyes of all look to you . . .”
Psalm 145 has a unique place among the 150 Psalms. It is the last psalm of David and the only psalm that is called a song of praise.
Psalm 145 piles up the praise words: praise, exalt, extol, tell, proclaim, speak, celebrate, sing. We praise the greatness of the King and sing about the glory of his kingdom. The latter depends on the former. The LORD is faithful to his covenant name (Exod 34) and to his promises. He redeems his people. He makes them saints. He provides for them. He loves them forever and ever.
Love is the focus of the Gospel and the other readings. Love is the outstanding characteristic of the citizens of Christ’s kingdom. A new command: love one another! The command itself isn’t new. What’s new is that we have a crucified and risen Savior speaking it to us. This command doesn’t scare us or burden us any longer. Jesus is the perfect demonstration of God’s love for us and the perfect example for us to follow. He was patient and kind. He was not self-seeking. He always protected, always trusted, always hoped, always persevered. What’s new for Christ’s people—new every day—is that we are motivated by the grace and mercy of God and we want to love. Every day we are concerned about our lack of love and we repent of it. Daily we hear the comforting voice of our Good Shepherd who forgives us and leads us in right paths for his name’s sake.
It isn’t easy for us, even as pastors, to live a life of love. Life and ministry can be difficult. The people around us can be so unlovable. Our sinful flesh leans so strongly towards love-of-self and away from love-towards-others. Only the Spirit of God can produce the fruit of love in us.
This week in the quiet chambers of our study, let’s sing Psalm 145 often. This praise-psalm helps us reflect on the faithful and steady love of the Shepherd-King who laid down his life for the sheep. It helps us ponder the perfections of our King and the nature of his kingdom. It leads us to pray that our corner of the kingdom—our churches—might be characterized by Christ-like love.
Our Shepherd-King loves and provides for all the creatures he has made. He has a more special love for mankind, the crown of his creation. His most-special love is for the people who fear him (believers). As citizens of this Shepherd-King’s kingdom, as shepherds under him, we follow him and imitate him. We show love to the world including those who do not know about “the repentance that leads to life.” We relish our God-given opportunities to show our greatest love to our brothers and sisters in Christ.