Daily Good News – The Gate to Paradise
May 29, 2015 1047
“Jesus said, ‘I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved’” (John 10:9).
There are five actors in this scene: the sheep, the thief, the watchman, the hired hand, and the good shepherd.
In the summer, the sheep were grazed on the hills of Palestine. Their shepherd did not bring them back to their secure enclosure in the village at night, but instead collected them into a sheep-fold on the hillside. These were very basic enclosures: just four walls with an opening through which the sheep came and went. There was no secure door to restrain the sheep, so the shepherd lay down across the opening. Any sheep trying to escape would wake the shepherd by trying to step over his body. The shepherd was literally the gate and the sheep could come and go at his bidding.
This was the image Jesus gave to his listeners. It was only through Jesus, through the sacrifice of himself on the Cross, that men would find access to the safety and salvation of God. In Ephesians 2:18, the apostle Paul writes: “Through him we have access to the Father.”
This is a powerful picture of Jesus as the shepherd, the one who lays down his life for the sheep, and who is thereby the gate that opens our way to God.
In contrast, the hired hand is the one who works only for wages. He has no real interest in the sheep. When danger comes, he abandons the sheep and runs away. The thief is the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate but climbs over the wall to steal sheep. There was a series of insurrectionists who regularly rose up in Palestine, claiming that they were God’s chosen ones who would lead the Jews to victory over their oppressors. They were the thieves Jesus referred to: false prophets who stole people’s lives for their own ambition.
Jesus is the only way to God, and to the safety of eternal salvation. This was a completely confident and very personal promise by Jesus to his followers. This promise still stands.