THE GATE OF THE FATHER
8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them.9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.[a] They will come in and go out, and find pasture. John 10:8-9
Yesterday was one of the weirdest services I have ever been a part of as a preacher. It was nothing that I have never thought might happen, but it was something that seemed to be a mixture of unfortunate events. The service started with the microphone not working. It was on... the batteries were fine... it just didn't work. So half way through my intro I had to start over. Then mid way through my sermon all of the electricity went out because of a tree that had fallen on a transformer. The power went out and came back on multiple times until the transformer finally blew and shut everything down. Everything down but the power of Jesus. But I will have to say that I have not laughed more during a sermon than I did yesterday. It was a time that I definitely needed as it was sharing the idea of how Jesus professed Himself as the GATE that leads to the Father.
For so many of us we have a hard time understanding the principle of Jesus being the GATE. We have always heard Him calling Himself the Good Shepherd, the Light of the World, the Beginning and the End, etc... But for many of us we have not really understand this metaphor that Jesus used to inform the world of WHO Jesus truly is to us. For many of us we see gates as objects that are used to keep people OUT or used to keep the things that we
want IN. But that was not the illustration that Jesus wants us to see when He says He is the GATE. Instead, we are able to see that Jesus is providing a very powerful message that the GATE is used to be a connection to God the Father. As I have had the privilege to go to the Antiquity museum in Lagrange, Georgia with our confirmation class, I was able to see more fully what Jesus was saying when He said He was the GATE. Shepherds at the time did not have all of these fancy barns to house the sheep in the fields, but instead used natural creations like caves or rock sides to build a sheepfold that contained the sheep. The shepherd would then place sticks and thickets at the entrance adn around the sides to deter thieves, robbers or animal predators from trying to steal or kill the sheep. Then the shepherd would do something that speaks volumes.... they would lay at the entrance and protect the entrance with their lives. They physically became the gate and made sure that every sheep was safe in the pen.
As we look at the Scripture for today, we notice that Jesus had just healed a man that had been blind since birth. The religious leaders of the day were terrified to admit that Jesus had done this miracle healing. So instead of rejoicing with the man and his family, the banished him from the community. The Pharisees were terrified that if they were to admit that Jesus did this healing, the people would have expectations from them to have the power of healing as well. Jesus steps into the story and calls them out. He tells them that they are thieves and robbers. They tell them that they have come into this position without wanting to follow the law of the Lord, but to create ways in which they make themselves look important. Instead of being like the shepherds that God has called them to be to the people, they act more like tyrants that are wanting to take from the poor and needy and keep them repressed by their positional authority. So what does Jesus do... He calls them out.. Not once but multiple times and reassures the rest of the people that He has come to be the Shepherd. Jesus reveals to the people that HE is the ONLY way to find salvation and to be a connecting point to the Father. Jesus tells them that He is not going to be building a country club like church where only the members can attend, but that as the GATE, the sheep will be able to come in and out of the pen to find nourishment and community they desperately need. Jesus was allowing the people to know that He was nothing like these Pharisees and that the sheep/followers would run from them because they did not know or trust their voices.
As we live out our lives each day, there is going to be some chaos that continues to creep into out lives. Things that will cause us to laugh and other things that will cause us to have questions. But the one thing that we can take to heart is that Jesus, as the GATE has come
to be our protector and connector to the Father. He has laid HIS life down at the entrance and said NO ONE will come to the FATHER except through HIM. He has placed HIS LIFE as the GATE and promised to provide an opportunity for us to receive salvation through HIS blood as the LAMB. Life continues to cause us to make choices and seek answers, but one thing that is certain is that Jesus gave up everything to lead us to God. Both times Jesus spoke to the Pharisees there was one common connection from those who He met... both the sheep and the blind man knew the voice of the SHEPHERD. Today, I am inviting you to stop and spend time in prayer and discernment asking God to help you to listen for the voice of the GOOD SHEPHERD. I am asking that you walk through the gate and receive Jesus love and protection as He leads you to the Father. The door is open and the GATE is clear. All Jesus is asking is that you walk through and take hold of the amazing love of the Father that is expressed in the sacrifice of the SON.