Sunday Night Musing: Gates and Sheep

Here was the passage we studied tonight at church:

Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:7-10, NIV)

The first summer I worked at a Bible camp was before my senior year of high school. The theme that summer dealt with sheep, education, and life and was built around the John 10 chapter. John 10:10 was our theme verse. I still remember it (with the actions we taught the campers). It was a central verse in my book.

John 10 also includes the image of Jesus as the Good Shepherd. It's a complicated chapter with a few different metaphors: Jesus as the Gate, and Jesus as the Good Shepherd. I read once (or heard in a lesson or something) that there could be a combined reason for that. I haven't done much research on this to verify facts, but I heard that the sheep fold didn't have a physical gate that shut the opening back in those times. The shepherd would lay across the opening so that sheep couldn't get out without his knowing. Thus the shepherd would also be the gate.

Most likely though, Jesus was just acknowledging that He has many roles, and both of the metaphors applied to Him. He is the Good Shepherd who calls His sheep (I'm told that the sheep would be separated after being in a fold together by their own shepherd calling them--they knew their particular shepherd's voice and would go to him).

He is also the Gate (admittedly, not a metaphor or name of Jesus we use too often). In the passage above, Jesus says that the gate is the way to salvation. The gate would be the entrance to the boundaries that separated the fold from the pasture. The pasture is the place where the sheep spend their day. They graze and drink and socialize as only sheep can do. There are dangers in the pasture, though. Wild animals. Cliffs, caves, and other landforms that can cause injury or where sheep can get lost.

The fold was a secure place of rest. All the sheep were gathered in one place. The shepherds knew clearly where each sheep was and that they were accounted for. They watched over them through the night and kept them safe.

We heard the idea tonight about the importance going to Jesus for rest. Sabbath isn't something we (I) tend to do well. And I don't think it's just about one day of the week. Maybe part of the gate metaphor is that Jesus offers us a place of peace, safety, and rest. That's exactly what I need during my intense weeks quite often, but I seldom remember to go to Him for rest.

So that's what I'm working on: not getting buried in frustrations or stress or other issues that come my way, but to remember the Gate. To pray for the things that come up, to give thanks, to find peace in Christ.

So, in looking at the Lenten question of "Who is Christ?"I think tonight I've been reminded that He is a place of security and rest. Those are two things I generally need during each week--each day even.

No comments: