John 10:11-18, Jeremiah 10:20-21, Psalm 23:1-6
This is part of a 10-day series on the person of Christ in the 2016 Lent study.
Most of the people I know hate waiting in line. When we have to, it seems like we’re always angling for a shortcut or a workaround.
The last time I was in an airport, I witnessed a few passengers trying to circumvent the general boarding lane by attempting to slip into the priority/first class boarding group. I suppose they thought they’d save themselves about 10 minutes of waiting, but what they ended up getting was a firsthand lesson in public shaming. After a bit of a hushed but irritated back and forth, the attendant that scanned their boarding passes announced loudly, “NO, you are not a priority member, you must go to the back of the line and wait your turn.”
I kind of felt bad for these travelers. It’s tough to be so publicly rebuked. However, I’m not sure what they were expecting. Maybe they thought they’d just get lucky and be able to board the plane without having to go through the proper channels. No. The gatekeeper turned them away.
In John 10, Jesus introduces Himself to us not only as the Good Shepherd, but also as the Gatekeeper to the sheep pen. It’s heartwarming to think of Jesus as the Good Shepherd; a guide, a caregiver, and a protector. Such an encouraging image. It’s the Gatekeeper part that’s tricky. Why would Jesus turn anyone away? That doesn’t seem caring, life-giving, or loving in the least.
Well, I suspect that being a Good Shepherd means not only loving the sheep through guidance, but also through protection. Jesus knew then what many of us of have experienced now: there are a lot of wolves that would love to reap the benefits of the sheep pen, and maybe even abuse a few sheep along the way, without having to yield to the call of the Shepherd.
You see, a shepherd is good because he cares for AND protects his flock, even with his life if necessary.
God’s love for His people includes an invitation from the Shepherd “who laid down His life for His friends.” Everyone is invited to the sheep pen; it’s just that there is a Gatekeeper and only one way to enter. No one can reap the benefit of the Shepherd without passing through the sheep gate. Some may try to slip in another way, but Jesus tells us there is no other way.
The Good Shepherd is for you. He has laid down His life for you. From what or from whom do you need protection? Are you searching for secure shelter? This could be a good day to commit yourself to the care of Shepherd, to admit once and for all that you can’t shepherd yourself. He has already laid down His life for you. All you need to do is enter the refuge that can only be accessed through the sheep gate.
Once you’re there, lay your worries, cares, and fears before Jesus, who loves and cares specifically for you.
Written By Andrew Stoddard