Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 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 to the full. John 10: 7 – 10
Jesus was using a description of himself that everyone would have understood at that time. Sheep and shepherds were a common sight in Israel at the time of Jesus. Probably everyone had at some time walked past a sheep pen with its low rock walls and gate, which was carefully guarded by the shepherd. Thieves would have jumped over the wall to steal the sheep, which they would probably kill to eat. This would be destructive to the flock, as well as the livelihood of the shepherd. As a true shepherd always remained at the gate to guard the sheep thieves would never enter through the gate.
There are many thieves and robbers in this life who are trying to get to us in various ways. Some come as wolves in sheep’s clothing. Religious people can destroy our lives by feeding us with a false word of god. Some come as apostles and prophets with great confidence and ceremony, speaking lies as if they were true. Others come as sly as a serpent with subtle deceit wooing us to themselves with fine sounding arguments, causing us to doubt the true Word of God. Such thieves and robbers have absolutely no concern about the wellbeing of the sheep. They are only concerned about themselves and what benefits them. Have we ever been lied to by someone we trusted? Some would tell us that there are greener pastures elsewhere, only to lead us astray into hopelessness.
How many gates are there? Only one! Jesus didn’t say that he is a gate for the sheep. He said, “I am the gate for the sheep”. By using the definite article he claimed to be the only way for the sheep to come in and go out to find pasture. For a sheep to find pasture means that it would be nourished. Jesus is the way for us to be nourished in or inner beings; he is our protector from the thief who would steal, kill and destroy our lives; he watches over us by day, and guards us at night. The sheep feel secure at night in their pens, as long as the gate is closed. Jesus closes us in reassuring us that he is nearby when our hearts are fearful. Do not fear little flock! I am the gate.
In contrast to the thief that comes to kill, steal and destroy, Jesus came to give life in abundance. It is only by going through him that we have life. He is the life giver. He is the entrance into life, abundant life, eternal life. There is no other way to life. I am the gate!
Have you entered into life through the gate? Do you go through the gate daily to green pastures to find nourishment for your souls? Do you have peace in troubled times knowing that the gate has sealed you into the safety of the sheep pen? I am the gate!
Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Romans 5: 1 – 2