Summary: Jesus is the gate through whom we enter in to a life of fellowship with God’s family and an abundant life of green pastures.
John 10:1-10 “I am the Gate”
We are surrounded by gates. We arrive at and depart from airports through gates. In order to get to those gates we pass through a security gate. Many of us have gates that provide an entrance into a courtyard, or security gates that keep people out. For those of us who are science fiction fans, there are even stargates that provide access to distant galaxies.
In his conversation with his disciples and the Jewish religious authorities, Jesus identifies himself as “the gate.” Jesus’ words open new facets of his being to us that enable us to grow in our relationship with him, deepen our faith, and experience more of the life he has provided for us.
Sheep folds weren’t much in ancient Israel. They were not like the corrals ranchers build in the United States. They were crude affairs, often built of bushes or branches, or a best a low row of stones. Still, they were enough to contain the sheep and keep them from wandering into danger.
Several flocks were often penned together. This was done to provide them with more safety. The flocks would mingle, until the sheep were separated by the calls of the shepherd. The shepherd had a closer relationship with the sheep of his flock than Western ranchers because of size. Middle Eastern flocks were usually small. Shepherds knew the sheep of their flocks by name—they had pet names for them—and the sheep recognized the voice of their shepherd.
Shepherds would become the gate to the sheep fold. They would lie in front of the opening to the fold so that nothing could enter without them knowing. Human gates provided entrance to the fold and protection from threats outside.
GATE TO THE FAMILY
The flock is always understood as a symbol of the Church and the family of God.
Jesus provided the entrance into the family of God. Because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we are able to enter into a relationship with God, and with our brothers and sisters in faith.
The family of God is comprised of sheep of all sizes, shapes and breeds. We are a most unlikely flock. We are united by our common faith, baptism and mission. These are stronger than our differences. Certainly this can be seen in the family of God called Desert Streams. We are very different. At the same time, we stand united.
There is a warning in this passage of Scripture that some people attempt to get into the family through means other than Jesus. These people have their own agenda—not God’s. Their goals are selfish. Sometimes they seek to hurt and harm.
The emphasis of this passage, however, is not a warning about thieves, but a celebration of entrance into the family of God through the person of Jesus Christ. He is the gate.
GATE TO ABUNDANT LIFE
Jesus tells his listeners that those who enter through the gate will be able to go in and out and find pasture. Pastures are places of nourishment that also provide protection.
As the family of God, we are led to pasture and we are able to grow in our Christian lives.
It is tempting for us to equate abundant life with the cheap imitations of the world. The abundant life that is ours through Christ does not necessarily involve comfort, wealth, or an abundance of worldly things. When Jesus talks about abundance, he is referring to the things of God—relationship, presence, power, steadfast love, and abundant forgiveness.
We have access to an abundant life through the gate, Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ is not an exclusive gate. The family of God is not like a tree house with a trap door designed to keep people out and that is accessible only with a password.
Jesus is a gate of invitation to enter and experience a relationship with God, a relationship with the family of God, and an abundant life.