“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.” John 10:1 (NIV)
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)
Sheep. They’re cute animals but not known to be very smart. They are dependent upon those who care for them to lead them to green pastures, protect them from danger, and keep them from straying off. Jesus goes on to call himself the Good Shepherd but today we’re going to consider Jesus’ claim to be the gate.
A gate is a way into and out from some fenced area—in the first verse Jesus calls this the sheep pen. In the pen, sheep are kept together, fed and watered, and rest in safety. It is home.
By claiming to be the gate, Jesus doesn’t take ownership of the sheep or the pen but the means to both. He is the way (a claim Jesus makes later). The sheep which come into the sheep pen by way of the Jesus-gate will be saved.
Jesus points out the gate is the way into the sheep pen for those who care for and are responsible for the sheep. Those who climb over or come in some other way have other intentions—to steal, kill, and destroy.
Who are the thieves?
Jesus says all who came before him are thieves and robbers. In other words, all who professed to be the way of salvation to the Israelites before him—and perhaps after him—were motivated by a desire to control, oppress, or destroy them.
What does Jesus say his motivation is?
Salvation and fullness of life for the sheep.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6 (NIV)
There is good news of salvation and fullness of life imbedded in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He is the gateway to green pastures, peaceful rest, and the care of our Father in heaven.
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”