John 10:1-10: The Shepherd who is the Gate.
‘Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice.’ 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.7 Therefore Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” NIV
Here are some simple thoughts from a well known passage. But it is one thing to know these truths and another to live them.
Come through the ”shepherd” (11). Jesus is both the ”shepherd” and the ”gate” (7). I understand that sometimes eastern shepherds would literally lie across the entrance to a sheepfold at night, thus acting as the door. It is vital that there should be a truly converted ministry (2). People who are to serve as ‘under-shepherds’ over Christ’s flock must first of all come to God through Jesus who is both ”the good shepherd” (11) and ”the gate” (7).
Listen to the shepherd (3-5). Eastern shepherds had a personal relationship with each animal in their flock. Often they had a different name for each one and, possibly, an individual call. If you have come to be part of Christ’s flock, you will surely recognise His voice. ”…a father or mother will recognise their child’s voice in a crowded room. But those of us who don’t have much to do with the bird and animal kingdoms on a daily basis are often startled at just how much animals can distinguish between different people as well as between other members of their own species. To this day, in the Middle East, a shepherd will go into a crowded sheepfold and call out his own sheep one by one, naming them. They will recognise his voice and come to him. The shepherd, after all, spends most hours of most days in their company. He knows their individual characters, markings, likes and dislikes. What’s more, they know him. They know his voice. Someone else can come to the sheepfold and they won’t go near him, even if he calls the right names. They are listening for the one voice that matters, the voice they trust.” Tom Wright: ‘John for everyone’, pp.147/148.
Follow the shepherd (3-5). He goes ahead of the flock. It is for us to keep our eyes on Him and follow where He leads. We follow ”the lamb” who is also the shepherd (Revelation 14:4). Our following must be to the extent of ”wherever he goes.” He is Lord.
Let the shepherd give you real life (10). Here’s a suggestion: read Psalm 23, and pray it through, giving thanks for this abundant life that is yours.