The Good Shepherd and His Gate
On vacation one summer’s day while I was walking along in colonial Williamsburg, Virginia, I saw a flock of sheep in a pen a couple of blocks away. I decided to walk over to them because people were gathering, and I realized that they were about to demonstrate how these animals were cared for during the late 1700’s. Coming to the pen, I noticed that children were trying to get the flock’s attention, but the animals didn’t seem to care. They were ignoring everyone – even the adults. Then from down the road beyond our sight, we heard a faint voice calling out, “Sheep, Sheep!”
Suddenly, every sheep lifted up his head, and they all began bleating loudly. And she cried out again, “Sheep, sheep!” And in a matter of moments, they had all pushed their way to the gate – anticipating their shepherd’s arrival. They had heard her voice although they could not see her, they knew that it was the voice of their shepherdess.
Now they had heard the word sheep uttered by every child and adult in that group for at least 15 minutes prior to that. But they recognized her particular voice, not the word sheep. And when she finally arrived at the gate, she opened the door, and they all came out and followed her like so many ducklings behind their mother.
Yet what made the biggest impression upon me was that as she stood there by the gate, she knew them so well that she began calling them each by name. She knew every sheep that came through that gate. It was a heartwarming sight. And I couldn’t help but reflect upon what Jesus said of Himself. “I am the Good Shepherd,” and “I am the door of the sheep.” As John wrote, “And the sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out.” “The Good Shepherd and His Gate” Let us pray…
The sheep pen of Jesus’ day was usually a stone or rough mud-brick structure, only partially roofed, if at all, or it could also just be a cave in the hills. It had only one opening through which the sheep could pass when they came in for the night. The pen served as protection against wolves and thieves and wild beasts.
And when the sheep returned to the fold after a day of grazing, the shepherd stood at the gate and inspected each one. If a sheep was scratched or wounded, the shepherd anointed it with oil for healing. If a sheep was thirsty, he gave it water to drink. So the shepherd was the sole determiner of who entered the fold and what care each one received.
The shepherd guarded the only gate. A thief would have to climb in by another way. Jesus referred to Himself as that same gate. He taught that only through Him do we find abundant life and go in and out and find green pastures. Jesus said that He was the way the Truth and the life and that no one comes to the Father, but through Him.
In order to be put on the right path, we must enter through Jesus’ door. In order to go in and out and find pasture, we must go through Jesus’ door. In order to quench our thirst, we must go through Jesus’ door. In order to find rest and contentment, we must pass through Jesus’ door. In order to receive God’s ultimate care, we must go through Jesus’ door. And in order to find life, we must go though Jesus’ door. Jesus proclaimed, “Truly, truly, I am the door of the sheep.” (Click on the title above to view the rest of the message)
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