I AM the Gate for the Sheep

Coming and Going through the Gate

 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture. Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. Psalm 100:3-4

Jesus said, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). The gate He referred to was the only entrance for a sheepfold out in the fields, rather than one in town. The fold may have been made of stone, mud-brick walls, or tree branches woven tightly together—high enough to prevent thieves or wild animals from jumping over.

The sheep entered the fold and found a place of shalom—the Hebrew word representing peace, rest, security, and protection. The shepherd tended to their needs, fed them a snack before bedtime, and then lay down across the entrance. He protected the flock, risking his life if necessary—as David did when he fought a lion and a bear (1 Samuel 17:34-37).

But the sheep didn’t loaf around in the sheepfold, enjoying the company of their fellow sheep all day. The shepherd was on the move. He took them out to pasture: both places they’d been before and new places they’d never go on their own. They needed to follow him, not stray off to find their own adventures (and get into trouble). He led them to “refreshment in green pastures and by still waters” (Psalm 23:2).

Jesus was saying that life in the fold could only be accessed through the gate he provided, the salvation that came from faith in Him. This life would be a two-way interpersonal relationship, both an internal life and an external life.

Phillip Keller, whose writings were based on his actual experience as a shepherd, explains, “He has come into the little fold of my life there to exercise His management of my affairs. He leads me out in due course to wider fields of contact and adventure with others in new dimensions of spiritual growth. [1]

Have you enjoyed both aspects of going through the gate—an inner time of peaceful rest in the presence of the Shepherd and an external time of following the Shepherd wherever He leads?

DIG DEEPER:

Read John 10:7-9. Jesus says the sheep will not hear false shepherds (robbers and thieves). Compare the blind man’s response to the Scribes and Pharisees in John 9:13-34 with his response to Jesus in chapter 1o. How did the Scribes and Pharisees rob the blind man?

Someday the gate to the fold will close and no more will come in. Is that fair? Why must there be a gate? How are verses like John 6:37 and 10:28 reassuring? Who will not be allowed to enter? See Matthew 25:31-46.

In his book, Phillip Keller describes a bellwether—a sheep that sticks so close to the shepherd that the shepherd uses it to gather in lost sheep. Would you describe your life in the pasture as the lost sheep, the bellwether, or somewhere in between? Should others follow your lead?

Nancy J. Baker

[1] Keller, Phillip. The Inspirational Writings: A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23 and A Shepherd Looks at the Good Shepherd and His Sheep. New York: Inspirational Press,1993. 347 and 349.

This devotion is part of a series on the I AM Names of Jesus.

 

 

Comments

  1. Thanks Nancy. Our mens group is studying John’s Gospel now. I’ll share this with them.

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