Thanks to an early familiarity with the idea of Jesus as my
good shepherd, the first part of John 10 resonated with my
faith and experience. But the idea that Jesus was like a “gate”
for the sheep mystified me. Then a teacher made me aware that
the technically sophisticated gates of farms and subdivisions in
my world would have been centuries beyond Jesus’ metaphor
in this text. In Jesus’ day, shepherds might combine their flocks
in one shared village livestock pen. They would have guarded
the opening themselves, even as they slept—becoming the gate
that guarded against predators and rustlers. A shepherd would
literally lay down his life to protect the going out and coming
in of the flock.
A gate is a flexible boundary. Jesus, our gate, guides us
to safe rest by closing us in against predators and provides for
nourishment by opening to green pastures. Like the pilgrims’
description of God’s protection for their “coming and going”
in Psalm 121 (niv), Jesus keeps us as we go out into the world
and leads us safely home for sheltered rest. In the season of life
when I pastored congregations, and with my husband, raised
our sons (now young adults), we struggled to balance active
ministry with sabbath rest. We looked for ways to shelter our
sons as well as to bless their growing autonomy. Our journey
was fast-paced, and we needed constant guidance. Jesus became
for me a gate: opening outward and gathering us inward, day by
day, season by season.
Do you need to let Jesus be the gate in your discipleship?
The gift of this gate promises life in abundance, now and
beyond the human journey we know on earth. In life and in
death, Jesus the gate promises new life and resurrection power.
Prayerfully imagine a place in your life where you can welcome Jesus as your gate to bless your coming and going.
Three of the texts use the image of shepherd and sheep. Psalm 23 and John 10 picture the familiar relationship of trust that sheep exhibit toward the shep- herd. The shepherd places himself between the dependent sheep and the aggressive enemy to ward off destruction and exploitation. John 10 and 1 Peter 2 introduce the costly price paid for protection. The sheep’s safety comes with immense and undeserved sacrifice. In 1 Peter 2, the shepherd’s sacrifice makes possible the return of wayward sheep who have wandered away from the shepherd’s protection.
• Read Acts 2:42-47. How has joining with other believers in prayer, fellowship, and study strengthened your faith?
• Read Psalm 23. What narrow passages of life have you navigated? Upon whom did you depend during that time?
• Read 1 Peter 2:19-25. When have you encountered unjust suffering? What redemptive value did it hold for you?
• Read John 10:1-10. “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved.” How have you allowed Jesus to be the gate to your discipleship?
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