by Dorette Saunders
Time and again, the Bible refers to Jesus as the shepherd of a flock of sheep. The “sheep,” those who believe on him, are dependent on the shepherd to find pasture to sustain them.
In John’s Gospel, Jesus says, “I am the gate” (John 10:7, CEV). Like doors, a gate keeps things in, providing security for that which is behind it. Gates also keep things out, thwarting thieves and repelling danger.
I remember as a young child my mother would always caution me, “Do not go outside the gate.” Outside, there were speeding cars, ice cream vendors, and children who had permissive parents. Reluctantly, I obeyed, but was often tempted to lift the latch and run away from being protected.
Jesus understands our desire to scope out places where we shouldn’t be, to go beyond the boundary of his divine protection. Jesus knows, that like sheep, we have the propensity to stray. So he offers himself as “the gate.” He is our protector. He is our impenetrable security.
But before your mind swings toward a suffocating, restrictive atmosphere, Jesus tells us that those who are his “sheep” will come and go through him, the gate, and find pasture! (John 10:9, CEV). There is no lack. Jesus will not withhold any good thing from those he loves (Psalm 84:11) if we follow his teachings.
Sheep need a shepherd, someone to lead them, since they are prone to being attacked by predatory animals. The Scriptures tell us that the devil prowls like a roaring lion seeking to destroy us (1 Peter 5:8). When we move away from Jesus’ protection, we leave ourselves open to be attacked and destroyed by the devil. Sometimes, like in the fairytales, the devil comes like a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing. No wonder we have to be on guard!
“The sheep know their shepherd's voice. He calls each of them by name and leads them out…. he walks in front of them, and they follow, because they know his voice” (John 10:2-4, CEV).
Do you know Jesus’ voice? Amid the competing sounds in our hearts, and our minds, can we hear the Lord?
That’s why it is important for us to immerse ourselves in God’s Word so we can recognize the voice of the true shepherd, and follow him.
Do these verses from Psalm 23 resonate with you?
The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul…
(vv. 1-3a, NKJV)
The words are saturated with shalom, the incomprehensible peace of God. Everything we need can be found in Jesus Christ, the Shepherd. Despite the number of sheep in his possession, Jesus calls each of us by name and leads us to safety. There is nothing like feeling secure when the world is in chaos. There is nothing so rewarding like knowing that Jesus, the Good Shepherd, promises that each of his sheep will live life to the fullest (John 10:10).
PRAYER: Gentle shepherd, be our gate. Help us resist the pull to move away from your divine protection. We are secure in you, and you meet our every need. Lead us, as only you can. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.