Summary: In a world where gates gives us a false sense of security, there is only one secure gate.
We love gates. We boast about living in gated communities. We have gates leading into our fenced yards to keep in what’s ours and to keep what we don’t want in our area. We have locks to reinforce our security with our gates. We feel secure with our gates.
But most of us have fences that really would not be that hard to climb. And gated communities are not that secure. Shane and Amy once lived in a gated community. When we went to visit we would have to call and have one of them meet us at the gate with a card to scan to let us enter. That is if we were not fortunate enough to arrive at the same time as a resident was entering. Then we just followed them and entered unchecked. It really wasn’t that secure.
As we have discovered the last two weeks Jesus has been gaining more attention by making some bold claims. He told the 5000 looking for another meal “I AM the bread of life.” He went to the temple and declared, “I AM the light of the world.” He was using the Hebrew word haya (hay-yaw). God used this name when He introduced himself to Moses. Jesus is boldly claiming to be equal with God. He is claiming to be God.
Jesus final confrontation in the temple at the end of the Festival of Booths made it very clear. Jesus ended his debate with the religious rulers with this statement. John 8:56-59 “Your father Abraham rejoiced as he looked forward to my coming. He saw it and was glad.”
The people said, “You aren’t even fifty years old. How can you say you have seen Abraham?”
Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I Am!” At that point they picked up stones to throw at him. But Jesus was hidden from them and left the Temple.”
As Jesus was leaving the area He probably came into an area where shepherding was prevalent. He would have been standing in the midst of green pasture. Perhaps over to his side He saw a mud-brick structure with a small single entrance to house the sheep at night.
He turned to the crowd around him and said “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.” Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, (John 10:1-6)
It’s important that we understand what He meant. First, let’s understand the sheep. Sheep are considered “prey” as opposed to a predator. Since they are prey, they like to gather in herds since there is safety in numbers. This makes them social animals. If a sheep is knocked over on its back, it cannot get up without assistance.
Being social animals sheep are inclined to follow a leader. This instinct is so strong they have been known to follow a leader over a cliff. They are always seeking to establish and re-establish who is the leader by head butting, poking with their horns, shoulder shoving, or blocking with their bodies.
Sheep will follow the sound of the voice they recognize and will run from a voice contrary with the one they know.
Jesus is comparing sheep to people. We are social animals. We desire to gather in numbers. It maybe a church. It maybe a local bar. We feel secure when we are around others. Often when we have been knocked over by circumstances we need someone to come along and help us back on our feet.
We are prey. In the spiritual realm, we have an enemy who “prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.” (1 Peter 5:8) In the physical realm, we are prey to materialism and advertisements that tempts us with false realities. This leads us to follow leaders that may be more bent on our destruction than on our security. This also leads us to follow the voice of deception because we have grown accustom to the voice.
We butt heads and shoulder shove attempting to establish our place in authority. We desire to have things our way and are willing to push and shove to get there.
Next, let’s examine the thief and robber. They don’t enter through the gate but rather try to sneak over the wall. The reason they do not go through the gate is that there is a gatekeeper.