Good Shepherd weekend / Mother’s Day weekend May 10-11, 2014
“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep… Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what He was telling them. Therefore, Jesus said again, ‘I tell you the truth, I Am the gate for the sheep… I Am the gate; whoever enters through ME will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture.'” John 10:6-9
Gates are important in our lives. When we fly in and out of airports, it is VERY important to know our gate numbers. Then, there’s the Golden Gate Bridge–so named because it crosses the deep opening, or gate, between the San Francisco Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Here in Wichita, some people feel safer because they live in gated communities that allow limited access. Many have fences around their yards that help protect their lawns, gardens, children, and pets. But, those fences are only helpful when they have gates, which allow them to get in and out.
The mention of a gate can conjure up a lot of different images. When Jesus says, “I Am the gate” He want us to know two important meanings:
a) Jesus says: v.9 “I Am the gate; whoever enters through Me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” v.11 “I Am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” A shepherd would literally lie down across the opening of the sheep pen. The only way any danger could get to the sheep was – “over my dead body” (if they would first kill the shepherd). Jesus is “the Gate” –He gave His life for the sheep!
b) In addition to this meaning, there’s also another meaning – especially as we read this “I Am the Gate” statement in context [the situation in which it was said]. In John 9, we find the story of Jesus healing a man who was blind from birth. Jesus’ own disciples asked the question, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” They asked this because, in that day, it was a common assumption that sicknesses were caused by sin; God was punishing them. But Jesus clearly responded: “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.”
Having “opened the spiritual eyes” of His disciples, Jesus then “opened the physical eyes” of the blind man. You would think, at that point, all kinds of folks would be happy. But not so. The Pharisees, who appointed themselves the “gatekeepers of God’s Law” were more concerned about strict obedience according to what they thought rather than what God’s Word said. So, instead of celebrating with the man whose life just got so much better, the Pharisees were more interested in being the “gate-keepers” – accusing people of breaking their religious rules.
Jesus was very clear that the Pharisees were not the gate, rather Jesus called them thieves and robbers. In Matthew 23:13, Jesus said: “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in people’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to.” Jesus is the only gate to heaven–not by following man’s laws.
That’s why Jesus said, “I am the gate.” Jesus is the only way through which the sheep (you and I) come in to find safety and salvation and go out to find pasture and nourishment.
Did you notice the sermon title says: Jesus and Mom: The Gate? On this Mother’s Day weekend, we are especially thankful for our Christian mothers who a) “lay down their lives” for their children and families; and b) are Godly “gatekeepers” for their family bringing us to holy Baptism, teaching us about Jesus, warning us and protecting us from the sins and evils in the world around us. Working with Godly fathers, it is MOST important that children be protected from the dangers and evils of the sinful world.
There are a lot of different kinds of gates in our world. The best gate is Jesus, who opened up the Way to our Heavenly Father and all the blessings He has to give. Jesus says: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” That’s what Jesus means when he says, “I am the gate. Whoever enters through Me will be saved.”