In our neck of the woods, ranching is essential to the area. We have come to know many ranchers around us. So it is not very unusual to see cattle in fields or being driven down to another field. I, personally, do not know much about ranching or cattle. But the image of cattle always comes to my mind when I read the passage in John referring to sheep, although I know the two are not the same. In fields around our houses, there are many corrals that are used to detain and gather the cattle. I often think of this when Jesus speaks of “the gate”. Let’s read John 10:7-10.
Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.
In Jesus’ time, being a shepherd was a very common profession. His illustrations would be very easy to understand for the people of the time, even though many still did not understand. The sheep were kept in a pen. This pen had a gate guarded by a doorkeeper. The shepherd entered only through this gate to tend to his sheep. The doorkeeper would recognize the true shepherd and allow him entrance into the pen. Robbers and thieves often tried to climb over the pen to get to the sheep. These men only desired harm to the sheep. Therefore, the gatekeeper and the shepherd would keep those who desired to do harm out of the pen.
In this chapter, Jesus refers to Himself as not only the shepherd, but also the door. Many shepherds would sometimes sleep in the gateway. This would allow them to protect the sheep. He, therefore, is the gate. This gateway also would lead to the right pasture for those sheep.
Jesus’ reference brings to mind the passage in John 14:6.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
He is the only way, just as the gate was the only to get to the proper pasture. Once you have entered in the gateway, no robbers or thieves can steal you from the pen. True belief in Jesus Christ comes with security. Jesus not only takes care of us, but He also protects us from outside dangers that would remove us from His protection. He is the gate and gatekeeper. Therefore, from Him comes saving knowledge of God as well as spiritual security.
Is it not incredible to think of God’s protection through His son, Jesus Christ? Like the images of ranchers and shepherd protecting their cattle and sheep, Jesus Christ also protects us from outside threats. It is wonderful to know how God loves and takes care of us.