Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:7-10 (NIV)
Before we even received a permit for our barn, we began constructing a fence around the field where it would be located. After more than a month of clearing, we invested several weekends in placing fence posts and stringing wire between them. The last thing required was to hang the gates. One of the things that are crucial to the safety of our horses is that the fence stays in good repair and that the gates remain closed. Horses being curious will always test a gate to make sure that it is solid. If they can figure out a way to open it, they will. While a fourth gate separates them from the pasture and the road, it is often left open as it is across our driveway. If my horse were to get out, not only might a car injure him, but also I would be liable for any harm to the car or to the passengers inside of it. Once, at his old barn, someone left the gate open and I got word from several neighbors that my horse had spent part of his day roaming around the island before returning to the barn. I was so grateful that he did not wander out on the highway and get killed. After that, I posted a “Keep Gate Closed” sign, which I transported to my house once my horse was within my own gates. The gate keeps my horse within the pasture where he can be safe and kept from harm. We too have a gate that guards us and protects us. This gate also gives us access to redemption from our sins, eternal life and blessings from God. Jesus is that gate. In these verses, He talks in language that a people dependent on sheep and knowledgeable about the shepherd’s ways would easily have understood. They might not be as clear to us, however. Once the sheep were in the fold for the night, the shepherd laid down across the entrance to the pen. There, he not only kept the sheep inside, but also was the first line of defense against thieves and wild animals that would seek to steal and destroy the sheep. While Jesus offers to be the gate for all of us, He will only do so if we invite Him to be our shepherd and submit to His authority over us. How do we do so? By simply asking and then, remaining in a close relationship with Him. If we chose instead to wander away, to take our focus off of Him, then, the gate is open for attack and we are left vulnerable to Satan’s wiles. Once we are believers, Satan cannot take away our salvation, but like a wild animal or a thief in the night, he sure can make our lives miserable and rob us of our joy. How about you? Are you safe and secure? You can be if you keep your gate shut by staying close to the Shepherd.