We are currently considering the ‘I am’ statements of Jesus. So far, we have looked at: ‘I am the bread of life’, ‘I am the light of the world ‘ and ‘I am the resurrection and the life.’
These are astonishing claims, and we must take them seriously, because the phrase ‘I AM’ echoes the name that God revealed to Moses in Exodus Chapter 3 where God said: ‘I AM who I AM.’
In the verses we are looking at tonight, from John Chapter 10, Jesus says, “I am the gate.”
What’s interesting about this, is that in the previous chapter, we have been told the story of the blind man, whose sight was restored by Jesus. This miracle caused such a commotion in the community that the blind man was brought before the Pharisees. Instead of being amazed and rejoicing at this wonderful miracle, these Pharisees grumbled that the healing had been done on the Sabbath, which ‘proved’ to them that Jesus could not be from God.
The healed man was, accordingly, brought before the Sanhedrin, and renounced as a sinner. He was thrown out of the synagogue and made an example of before the crowds. The behaviour of the Pharisees showed that they were, in fact, claiming to be the gatekeepers of God.
In John 10:10, Jesus addressed the Pharisees.
“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. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.”
Jesus was speaking to them about the true gate and the true shepherd. Who is the one through whom one can gain access to God? It is not through the Pharisees!
The Pharisees didn’t understand what Jesus was telling them, so Jesus had to spell it out to them.
He said, ‘I am the gate. Not just any gate; the only gate for the sheep to enter into the fold. Middle Eastern sheep pens were made from one uninterrupted wall, with a single opening. There is no other entrance to the sheep pen. He is the only gateway for the people.
So why did Jesus use the image of a gate?
A gate lets people in.
What is the gate letting people into?
The bible often uses a flock of sheep to represent God’s people. We are the flock and the people of his pasture. The sheep pen is the church, God’s people whom he dwells with. Because of our sin, we can’t just accidentally wander into his presence. By nature, we are natural enemies of God. We have turned away from him, and from the safety of the fold. We have given him up glady and cheaply for things that the world has to offer, and for things that ultimately don’t satisfy.
At this time of Covid19, a lot of our idols are being exposed. Many people are possibly questioning the purpose of their life. Many may be at rock bottom and questioning the wisdom of placing their security in their job and income. The big question to ask is: Have we loved the world more than God?
As Adam and Eve were made outcasts of Eden, we are outcasts of the sheep pen because of our sin. Unfortunately, there is no list of good works that we can do to get back in. We cannot barter with God. There is an impenetrable wall around God, separating us from him, and it is a barrier that has been created by our own hearts.
However, the one, sure, rescue plan is that Jesus is the shepherd who calls us to the gate. He calls us, his sheep, by name, and we hear his name and respond to him, because, like sheep, we can recognise the shepherd’s voice. When we hear the word of God, we hear Jesus calling to us in these passages.
If we enter the gate, he effectively exchanges places with us so that we can enter, and he is cast out.
God’s judgment against Egypt culminated in the Passover. Every member of a family would be struck down, unless the door frame of their home was painted with the blood of a sacrificial lamb, and they were safely inside.
At the gate of the sheep pen, we see Jesus’s blood over the gate, and this allows us to enter in. The only way to God is through this gate, whose posts are marked with the blood of Jesus Christ which was shed for us so we can enter. The debt has been cancelled and we are declared innocent in the court of God.
Good Friday is called ‘good’ because it achieved life. We gain life when we are enabled to enter the gate to the kingdom of God, through Jesus.
Christianity is not a set of rules. All that is required is to enter and come under the blood of Jesus. Jesus knows the name of his sheep and he calls us by name.
If we consider the Passover scene again, there would most likely have been people knew that judgment was coming, and that the way to avoid it was to paint blood over the doorway. They may have believed this to be a good thing, but at the final count, they were not at home. Such individuals would have omitted to do the one crucial thing, namely, to have gone through the door and into the house. And as a result, instead of eternal safety, they would have received the eternal judgment of God.
Similarly, you might have heard the message that you are a sinner. You might have heard about the cross of Jesus, and that his blood was shed in order for you to have life. You might enjoy the ceremony of Christian celebrations. But if you haven’t entered the doorway, then you are not covered by the blood of the lamb.
Have you humbled yourself before Jesus and asked for his forgiveness? Have you trusted him as your saviour?
Verse 9 states: “I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved”.
In the case of the blind man, although the Pharisees had closed the gate of the synagogue, he actually went through the real gate and found Jesus.
John Chapter 9:38 tells us:
“The man said, ‘Lord I believe’. And he worshipped him.”
If you believe in the son of man, then he is the gate to the fulness of life eternal.
A gate keeps things out
Being part of the church presents many dangers.
Verse 1 states: “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.”
Anybody who attempts to enter the church but not through Jesus, the gate, is a thief. False prophets come in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are wolves. They look like part of the flock. They are dressed like sheep and sound like sheep. But they have not entered through Jesus Christ.
However, verse 5 describes the sheep in this way:
“they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
The sheep of Jesus’s flock, likewise, must never follow a stranger. If they have not heard the voice of Jesus, then they must run away from him. To prevent our hearts from wandering we need to keep opening the word of God to remind us of Jesus’s voice speaking to us.
In 1 John we have been taught that we must test every spirit that claims to come from God, in order to ensure that they have come in through the blood of Christ, and that they acknowledge Jesus Christ to be the son of God.
We live in a world of false prophets, and we must keep listening for the voice of Jesus.
Pharisees would claim it as their right to be in the sheep pen because they followed all the rules, they were righteous, and they didn’t need the blood of Jesus. But the truth is that they would be shut outside. A far better response is that of the apostle Paul, who said, In Romans 7:24 “What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death? Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
The pharisees believed themselves to be the gatekeepers of God and they shut the blind man out. Yet, even though this man was indeed a sinner, and the synagogue was barred to him, his belief in Jesus brought him salvation. His sins were not counted against him anymore.
Are you in the sheep pen?
If you are inside the sheep pen, have you come in through the gate? Have you passed under the blood of Jesus? Did he become the outcast so that you could come in?
If you are outside the sheep pen and want to go in, will you hear Jesus’s personal invitation to enter? Jesus knows you by name. He longs for you to see that your debt of sin has been paid for you. He wants you to come to the cross of the Lord Jesus.
Come to the gate and enter, believing the truth of Jesus’s words in verse 9:
‘I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.
John 10:1 - 10:10
10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.