Summary: Part 11 in series, Love Never Dies, this message looks at how you can find comfort, protection, direction, provision, and life through Jesus.

The Gate and the Good Shepherd

Love Never Dies, prt. 11

Wildwind Community Church

Jason Kotarski

June 13, 2010

Last week, we did a little character study of the key players surrounding the story of Jesus healing a blind man in John, chapter 9. We looked at the questions, “How is Jesus showing us something about who he is?” and “Where do we see ourselves in the story?”

We saw that Jesus wanted to show us his unique power to heal and restore. He renewed the life of a hopeless man and showed us that he is a servant, looking for opportunities to meet the needs before him. We looked at the different people in the story and saw how they were all at different places on their journey towards Jesus. Some were skeptical. Some were hopeful. Some were curious. Some were feeling threatened.

When we pick up the story in John 10, it’s as if Jesus is continuing the conversation he started in the previous chapter. So it’s helpful to imagine that he is speaking to the same audience of his disciples, the blind man, the townspeople, and the Pharisees. Let’s take a look at today’s passage.

John 10:1-6 (MSG)

1 "Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he's up to no good—a sheep rustler!

2 The shepherd walks right up to the gate.

3 The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

4 When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice.

5 They won't follow a stranger's voice but will scatter because they aren't used to the sound of it."

6 Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what he was talking about.

“They had no idea what he was talking about.” I think that sometimes when we read scripture, our sentiments match those of Jesus’ audience on the day that he told this story. It’s probably for different reasons though. For those around to hear Jesus in person maybe his ideas were so new that they were sometimes difficult for people to wrap their minds around. Many times Jesus’ ideas sounded like the opposite of everything people knew. While I think that’s true for us sometimes as well, I think that one of our issues when we read scripture is the disconnect that exists between our culture and culture of Jesus’ time. Sometimes the symbols that he uses don’t really connect with our mindset.

We live in the era of the iPhone, fast food, and internet shopping. Jesus’ lived in the era of walking across town if he needed to talk to someone that wasn’t in his immediate vicinity. He lived in the era of planting, raising, or catching his own food if he wanted to eat. He lived in the era of using his own local, natural resources to provide clothing and shelter. This was a very different society that what we know today. So it’s almost as if we have to learn to look through the lens of another way of life to understand what is really going on.

Last summer, Lisa and I joined something called Community Supported Agriculture, or a CSA. We have been looking for ways to make healthier choices when it comes to nutrition and we saw joining a CSA as a way to get healthy, organic produce a lot cheaper than we could get it in a grocery store.

By joining a CSA what you are really doing is buying a share of a farm. Before the planting season starts you pay for a half-share or a full-share and then throughout the growing and harvesting season you get fresh veggies every week. You get whatever is growing well and looking healthy that week. Your money helps the farmers to purchase seeds and get started without having to take out high interest bank loans and your investment gets paid back in produce.

What we thought of as a way to get some good food for a good price has produced other results too. When you join a CSA, you need to be prepared to eat some things you have never seen before. When you pick up your veggies each week, you don’t get to choose what you get. You simply get a box of whatever is in season. Last year, my horizons were expanded. Do you know how many different kinds of salad greens are out there? More than I ever imagined! We learned about collards and kale and swiss chard. I ate rutabagas and turnips and made pesto out of radish leaves. It was pretty exciting because you’d never know what you were going to get.

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