As a result of our family moving around a lot while I was growing up, I often found myself about a year or two younger than my classmates. For the most part, this wasn’t much of a problem until I entered high school and the rest of my classmates were getting their driver’s licenses long before I could, and then again in college when it came to getting into concerts.
In fact, I was once unceremoniously thrown out of a concert venue—in front of all of my friends, who were of age and who might’ve snickered a little bit at my comical misfortune. The bouncers were pretty courteous as far as bouncers go. Thankfully, they didn’t rough me up or anything, but boy, my pride sure did take a beating.
Earlier that evening, I had known there was no way I was going to get in the front door, so I walked in the stage entrance behind the band, sort of just acting like I belonged. Well, that worked for about five minutes until someone noticed me and saw that I was way out of place. Before I knew it, I was sitting on the curb waiting for my ride home. All my friends were enjoying a show that I could only hear in muffled tones through the cinder block walls—not a fun experience. Though relatively mild in nature, I was reaping the lackluster fruit of not entering through the proper channel: what John refers to in our reading today as “the gate.”
Many of the sayings of Jesus in the Gospels are quite comforting, things that we’d love to emblazon on some shiplap for our kitchens. Yet, there are also some that we could call “the hard sayings of Jesus.” These tough words are less frequently printed on posters or wall hangings. Nevertheless, they are true, weighty, and pertinent to our daily lives. In the very beginning of John chapter 10, we encounter one of them, when Jesus says, “Truly I tell you, anyone who doesn’t enter the sheep pen by the gate but climbs in some other way is a thief and a robber” (John 10:1). These words might be a little hard to understand, let alone find comfort in, but man, is it crucial to our eternal trajectory and growth as followers of Jesus. Entering through “the gate” (v.7), which Jesus identifies as Himself, isn’t merely a formality. It is a spiritual necessity.
We read in Ezekiel 34 that God promised a shepherd for His people long before the coming of Jesus. What’s mindblowing about Jesus is that He came not only as the guide, but also the gate. He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him” (John 14:6–7).
Getting thrown out of a concert? Mildly embarrassing.
Getting tossed out of the Good Shepherd’s eternal, life-giving, soul-fulfilling pastures? Devastating.
Though it can be tempting to take a shortcut or jump the wall, the only way to find peace, rest, and wholeness in the Jesus-pasture is by entering through the proper door: Him. There’s no cover charge. No minimum-age requirement. Just a free-handed invitation to surrender your life to God through Jesus Christ. All are welcome, but there’s only one door. Friend, make sure you enter that-a-way.
Written by Andrew Stoddard