Who Is Jesus? #3: The Gate for the Sheep!

Sermon Notes (Sunday August 23rd, 2015)

Rev. Mouris Yousef, Pastor

 

Who Is Jesus? #3: The Gate for the Sheep!

Matthew 7:13-14; John 10:1-10

 

Listen to Rev. Yousef as he preaches this sermon – Click here:

A few weeks ago, we began a study on the self-descriptions of Jesus found in the gospel of John known as the “I am” discourses or statements. Eight times in the gospel of John, Jesus said “I Am.” Seven of those times He added a divine attribute and then explained what He meant. Jesus is opening up a new understanding of who He is through these verses so our faith and trust in Him is deepened. In these seven statements made by Jesus, He uses a language that was so familiar to the Jewish audience. Jesus claims divinity. He claims to be God’s equal. He claims to be part of the eternal Godhead. He is the great “I am” of the Old Testament.

 

We’ve already covered the first two “I am” statements, I am the Bread of Life and I am the Light of the World. This morning we will be looking at the third “I am” statement, “I am the gate for the sheep.” Please notice that Jesus does not say that He is a gate but that He is the gate. In John 10:7 we read, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.” In other words, if we are to get to God, we must deal with Jesus. Access to God comes no other way.

 

The Context of the Third “I am” Statement

In order to understand this metaphor, we must first understand a Middle Eastern sheepfold. We picture a corral or a barn but that’s not an accurate comparison to an ancient sheepfold. The well-known Old Testament Scottish theologian Sir George Adam Smith (1856-1942) once related a story of an incident that happened to him as he travelled through the Middle East. As he travelled he came across a shepherd with his sheep. After talking with the shepherd for a while the man took him to the place where he kept his sheep at night; a place with four low walls and a narrow opening. Smith asked, “This is where they go at night?” The shepherd replied, “Yes, and when they are in there they are perfectly safe.” Smith replied, “But there is no door.” With a twinkle in his eye, the shepherd responded, “I am the door.”

 

Of course, the shepherd was not a Christian; he was simply speaking from a shepherd’s point of view. Smith asked, “What do you mean you are the door?” The shepherd replied, “When the light has gone, and all the sheep are inside, I lie in the open space, and no sheep ever goes out but across my body, and no wolf, no lion, no bear, no thief can enter by the sheepfold unless he crosses my body; I am the door. I am a good shepherd: I give my life for the sheep.” To prove his point, the shephard draws back his eastern robe, and sure enough, there are scars on his arms and body. He explains that these are wounds which he has suffered as he has fought off animals while defending his sheep.

 

The Blessings of Entering Through the Gate

With that as our background, let’s take a closer look at these few verses of John 10. Jesus as the gate, Jesus gives us some wonderful blessings. In John 10, Jesus lists three benefits for those who come through Him; three benefits for those who enter through the gate: salvation, safety, and satisfaction.

 

First: Salvation

In John 10: 9 we read, “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.” We see that those who enter through Christ will be saved. We are saved from sin’s penalty, the anger of God that separates us from Him and makes us His enemies instead of His sheep. Throughout our lives as Christians, we are increasingly delivered from sin’s power. And someday, when we pass into God’s holy presence through death, we will be saved from the actual presence of sin. Those who enter through the gate will be saved.

 

Second: Safety

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” Those who enter through Christ will be safe. That’s what Jesus meant by “going in and out.” It’s the thought of being at peace, being so secure, so well protected, that there is no fear in coming and going. The Good Shepherd has placed His body across the entrance in order to make us safe. At the cost of His life, we are secure.

 

Nothing in all of creation can separate us from God’s purposeful and loving plan for our lives – not war or terrorism, not cancer, a stroke or a seizure, not a lost job or financial distress, not a broken relationship, nothing. Nothing will separate us from the love of God. Psalm 121 says, “The Lord will keep you from all harm – He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”

 

Third: Satisfaction

That leads us to the third benefit, satisfaction, finding good pasture. “I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” And that was a challenging feat in Palestine. The skills of a good shepherd were needed to find fresh grass for the sheep to graze. In Psalm 23:2, the Scriptures tell us that our Good Shepherd makes us lie down in green pastures, He leads us beside quiet waters.” That’s what Scripture means by the abundant life. Jesus says that He came that you and I may have life, and have it to the full. The abundant life is not a life without problems. That is what false teachers want you to believe. A full and abundant life is one of being led by the One who knows us by name. It means life that is full, overflowing, with grace that is more than sufficient for every need. It is a life of contentment and rest, even in the midst of challenging circumstances, because we have a shepherd. We can do that only when we know by faith that we are cared for by the Good Shepherd. Jesus is the only way to abundant life.

 

“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture.” Salvation, safety, and satisfaction, are three important blessings of being in Christ. This is exactly what Jesus is saying to us here in this text. To go into the fold, we must go through Christ, the gate for the sheep. To go out to pasture, we must go through Christ. As the door, Jesus is the protector and provider of the sheep. So, when we come in the door, we are not only saved, but you are safe and secure. When we go out to pasture, we are nurtured and satisfied. Friends, let’s not seek that kind of life through thieves and robbers who promise good pastures, but really plan to fleece or destroy the sheep. Their version of the abundant life is a lie . . . because they do not enter through the gate. In the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen!

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