I Am the Gate
Please read John 10:6-10 in your Bible. I used the NLT to prepare these remarks.
SERIES INTRO - “I AM” is the answer God gave Moses at the burning bush when Moses asked for some kind of name to give to the Hebrews to prove he had really spoken with God. On some occasions Jesus made “I am” statements to reveal He was God and to teach important truths about the character and nature of God. During this Lenten season we’ll examine the seven “I AM” statements of Jesus found in John’s gospel to see Jesus as God and learn what He taught about God.
This story was supplied by Davon Huss on SermonCentral.com: “Derrick Johnson of the Regeneration singing group told a story about his daughter, Debbie. When Debbie was 4 years old, she got lost in a crowded supermarket. After an anxious search, she was found only one aisle over from her mother, but she was petrified. For a long time after that, she was terrified of crowds. Shortly thereafter they had a devotional about heaven one night, and the girl said, ‘Daddy, will there be many people in Heaven?’
“’Yes, there will be a lot of people in Heaven,’ he said. ‘So many that we can’t even count them, the Bible says.’
“’How will I ever find you and Mommy when I get to Heaven?’ she asked.
“He knew that was a childish question, but he wanted to give her a good answer. “’I’ll tell you what-when you get to Heaven you just wait for us right inside the gate, and we’ll all meet there as a family.’
“’Daddy,’ she said, ‘is there more than one gate in Heaven?’
“He remembered that Revelation said that there are four walls and there are three gates in every wall. He said, ‘Yes, there are 12.’
“She said, ‘Which gate?’
“He said, ‘I tell you what, when you get to Heaven, you ask somebody which way is east. Then you just walk and walk until you come to the eastern wall, and then you find the middle gate in the eastern wall. Let’s all meet as a family just inside the middle eastern gate.’
“That seemed to satisfy her, so he kissed her good night. Then he said, ‘Now remember, we’re going to meet just inside the middle eastern gate.’ This became a tradition. What a day that will be! Don’t miss it for the world.”
Jesus is THE Gate. Once we get that figured out, the choice of which of the twelve we enter to get into the New Jerusalem won’t be an issue.
CONTEXT - We need to be careful to observe this chapter comes amidst serious conflict between Jesus and the Pharisees, a party of religious leaders in Judah. Before this chapter is over they will be willing to kill Jesus! In chapter nine, Jesus healed a man born blind. The Pharisees struggled to explain this miracle. At the end of chapter nine, Jesus accused them of spiritual blindness. What happened next was a proof of their spiritual blindness.
This is the first part of Jesus’ Parable of the Sheep (vs. 1-5). The Greek word translated as ILLUSTRATION in v. 6 refers a cryptic comment, intended to be enigmatic so that people who are ”in” on it understand, people who are “out” will not. It worked. Those listening to Jesus were on the ”outs” and didn’t get it: they wanted to perceive the connection between Jesus and the common shepherd to which He had referred. (6-7) Our passage this morning is part of Jesus’ explanation of the ILLUSTRATION.
Jesus is the “Gate;” He is our means of access to God the Father.
1. Jesus described Himself as THE GATE FOR THE SHEEP.
Verse seven announces the analogy = “I TELL YOU THE TRUTH, I AM THE GATE FOR THE SHEEP.” Notice He specified “FOR THE SHEEP,” not “the gate to the fold.” This puts the focus on His beloved - the sheep. In the practice of shepherds of the time, they really were the GATE because they slept and kept watch across the only opening to the sheep fold. Whether the sheep were kept in a cave, or a pen surrounded by a stone or brick wall, there was only one way in or out and the shepherd put himself there. This practice kept the sheep in the pen and the predators out. This also explains how Jesus could be the Gate in verses seven and nine and at the same time be the Good Shepherd in verse fourteen.
Verse nine explains the analogy = “YES, I AM THE GATE.” Jesus as a GATE is an entrance: not to a sheep pen, but to heaven, to eternal life = “THOSE WHO COME IN THROUGH ME WILL BE SAVED.” Jesus is the determining factor in who is allowed in heaven. In John 14:16 He said, “No one comes to the Father but through me.” (As through a gate!)
Jesus is also the GATE in the sense of being an entrance to a good life in this world = “THEY WILL COME AND GO FREELY AND WILL FIND GOOD PASTURES.” To Jesus’ Jewish listeners, this phrase was an adage that expressed having complete security and ultimate freedom at the same time. A modern equivalent might go: “Free as a bird to be as safe as a bug in a rug.” In this life we’re familiar with having to sacrifice freedom to gain security or sacrifice security to have more freedom. In the Kingdom of God, those two virtues are held in balance.
Verse ten: The PURPOSE of the GATE is to give His SHEEP access to A RICH AND SATISFYING LIFE. In the Greek, this is a “superabundance” of life. It is a more exuberant word than English translations. This is a promise of eternal life, but it is also a promise of a pleasing quality to this life. Keep in mind this is an emotional and spiritual quality of life that we can enjoy regardless of our material circumstances. Rich or poor, in Christ we can better enjoy life.
2. Jesus described all pretend “gates” as THIEVES AND ROBBERS.
Verse eight = “ALL WHO CAME BEFORE ME WERE THIEVES AND ROBBERS.” This is another way of looking at verse one, where He said that anyone entering the sheepfold over the wall instead of the gate was a THIEF AND A ROBBER. There is a slight difference between these two words. “Thief” referred to someone who stole by means of subtlety. (B;den) “Robber” referred to someone who stole by violence and plundering. (Putin)
These THIEVES AND ROBBERS were every kind of leader who mislead the people. They may’ve been conservative, establishment types like priests and Pharisees or radical anti-establishment types like false prophets and Zealots, but ALL of them were THIEVES AND ROBBERS.
The good news is, “THE TRUE SHEEP DID NOT LISTEN TO THEM.” The “untrue sheep” were people who disobeyed God, following these false leaders into sin. The TRUE SHEEP were people who did not listen to the THIEVES AND ROBBERS because they did not hear in them the voice of the True Shepherd, God. They were faithful and recognized falsehood when they heard it.
Verse ten: Contrary to the Gate, the THIEF’S PURPOSE “IS TO STEAL AND KILL AND DESTROY.” Being evil, he wants to take away what he can and ruin the rest. To STEAL is the thief’s obvious preference as he wants to gain something for himself. A robber is more likely to KILL to take what he wants. A thief or robber might DESTROY what they cannot otherwise take away.
Jesus is the “Gate;” He is our means of access to God the Father.
Though you do not find it in this chapter of John, Jesus being the GATE means we have the means of accessing God the Father. The Greek word is prosagoge. It literally means "a bringing near" or providing a continuous and unhindered approach to God, whom we could never approach in our unredeemed state.
From the preceptaustin.org website: “Prosagoge was used to describe the introduction to or audience which one is permitted to have with a king or other person of high rank. This introduction or audience must be effected through an officer of court to whom the duty is entrusted.” In the New Testament this is always the believer’s access to God through Christ.
Because Jesus IS the GATE, we have a way to approach God that did not exist before. Because we can approach God in this way, we can receive the eternal and abundant life Jesus offers us.
https://www.sermoncentral.com/sermon-illustrations/101080/resurrection-by-davon-huss retrieved on March 2, 2022.
Messages #188 & #1099
Zondervan Bible Commentary, One-Volume Illustrated Edition, John, David J. Ellis
https://www.preceptaustin.org/ephesians_311-12, retrieved on March 2, 2022.