Doors or gates serve two purposes.
- They keep in what is supposed to stay in, and keep out what is supposed to stay out.
- They allow full access in a way that doesn’t compromise #1.
Your refrigerator doors keep cold air in, keep warm air out, and allow easy, full access to the scrumptious food inside.
Jesus identifies himself in that way when he says, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved” (John 10:9).
He was telling people that we are like sheep and he’s like a shepherd, then he switches metaphors and calls himself a gate. Yes, he’s both.
Pasturing in the countryside with his sheep, each evening the shepherd needs to round them up, account for them, and keep them safe. So he leads them into a natural shelter, like a cave. Or, he designs a “sheepfold.”
A sheepfold is a circular barrier made of a small rock wall, or branches and even thorns. When the shepherd completes it, he leaves an opening as an entrance, and leads the sheep into the safe sheepfold for the night.
They keep the sheep safely in, and to keep threatening predators out, the shepherd lies down, across the opening. The shepherd is the gate.
Sheep who enter the sheepfold, and remain in the sheepfold, receive full attention, care and direction because their shepherd is the gate, or the door. Sheep who don’t enter the sheepfold are on their own, and will get lost or killed.
Who can enter? Anyone who wants this protecting and providing that Jesus gives. Anyone who realizes that on their own, by natural instinct, they stray and can’t perfectly protect themselves. Jesus says, “Please, come into the sheepfold I made for you. You’ll be safe here.”
PRAYER: Dear Jesus, I can find my way much of the time, but not all the time. You always know the right way. Teach me to trust in your promise that by following you, entering your care, I am always safe. Amen.
FURTHER MEDITATION: Read John 10:1-10. Jesus mentions the thief a few times. “The thief” is anyone or anything trying to convince you that it can give you what only Jesus can give. Perfect safety and security. Forgiveness and acceptance. Identity. Value. Triumph over temptation. Peace and contentment. The thief is a taker. Jesus is a giver. The thief can be, and usually is, something good like a job, or health/beauty, friends, spouse, kids. It can also be a hobby or habit. Spend 5 minutes in quiet meditation and prayer, asking God to give you more understanding about the identity of thief who comes to you, and the faith to realize its lies, and to follow Jesus.