Today's Scripture Reading
I Am the Good Shepherd
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. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
Jesus seems to be mixing metaphors in this brief passage, or at least John tells the story in a way that makes it seem so. The first image is of the shepherd who knows his own sheep, calls them by name, and they follow because they know his voice. It is a beautiful and precious vision to all Christians. The love, understanding, caring and willingness to sacrifice of the “Good Shepherd” move us deeply. We crave such a relationship with Jesus.
I believe that when Jesus suggests that he is a gate or a door, it is a bit harder to understand, and maybe not quite as satisfying emotionally or spiritually. It is essential to see that he is gate, not gatekeeper. His purpose is to admit, to bring in, not to assure privacy of those already inside.
Many times in its history, including the present, the church has struggled with the gate vs. gatekeeper question. Who belongs, who does not?
At Disciplesnet we have begun calling ourselves a church where “the doors are always open, the walls are always down, and there is always room at the table.” May God strengthen us and bless us as we try to make this belief a reality.
Prayer: Gracious and loving God, thank you that Jesus showed us the meaning of your love in the comforting image of the Good Shepherd. Thank you that we can rest in your arms and be safe in your fold in times when the world seems like it is coming apart. Thank you for caring about your lost sheep, that none be lost. Help us come to better understanding of Jesus' meaning of being the door through which we can have that loving relationship with God. Forgive us Lord, when we would choose for ourselves the gatekeeper role and keep away those whom the shepherd holds dear. Grant us the wisdom and grace to live as you would have us to live, and be in community of all of your dear chidlren whom you know and call by name. In the name of Jesus, our good shepherd we pray, Amen.
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