John 10:1-2,7 – "I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep." Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep." (NIV)
This year, the rabbits robbed my orderly rows of green beans. They nipped nearly every plant neatly off at the stem. All that hard work tilling, raking, planting, and weeding produced mere stubs of plants! The only remedy for the situation was to install a rabbit fence around the entire vegetable garden. Once installed, I replanted the beans.
Only one problem remained. My rabbit fence had no gate. Since it was only two feet high, I simply crawled over it — well, not so simply. My old legs didn't much like being hiked up and over. Stiff joints made for an uncomfortable entrance. Sometimes, I ticked a shoe and nearly toppled on top of tender bean plants — not a good thing! What I needed was a gate to let the owner into the veggie patch but to keep the rabbits out.
In today's parable about the Good Shepherd, Jesus said, "I am the gate for the sheep." In order to get the sheep inside the stone enclosure, the shepherd stood in the sheepfold gate and called his sheep by name to come in, one at a time. He examined each one, poured olive oil on any sores, gave extra water to any animal in danger of dehydration, and checked them thoroughly for critters. Then he let each sheep into the fold. Once the whole flock had been tended and bedded down, the shepherd lay across the gateway. During the night, that is where he slept, his trusty sheep dog by his side on the alert. Should any two-footed or four-footed intruder leap the wall, the bleating sheep and barking dog made for an instant alarm. To his feet in a flash, the shepherd grabbed his rod, and used it with deadly accuracy on any intruder. No thief would rob his sheep.
In saying that He was the gate for the sheep, Jesus told His listeners, "whoever enters through me will be saved." (John 10:9 NIV) As the shepherd risked his life to protect his sheep, so Jesus laid down His life. In so doing, Jesus Christ offered His people all the care and protection that the shepherd gave to his flock.
All anyone needs to do is to ask to become one of His followers. Then they, too, can enter into fellowship with God's people through Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Jesus, Good Shepherd, we want to take You up on the offer to become part of Your people. Please tend us and lead us always, for we pray in Your name. Amen.