John 10: 1-10 (MsgB)
“Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it.”
Jesus told this simple story, but they had no idea what He was talking about. So He tried again. “I’ll be explicit, then. I am the Gate for the sheep. All those others are up to no good—sheep stealers, every one of them. But the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the Gate. Anyone who goes through Me will be cared for—will freely go in and out, and find pasture. A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
St. Louis, Missouri. The Gateway to the West.
During the height of America’s rush westward (early to mid-1800’s), St. Louis was the jumping off point to the great unknown. Once Lewis & Clark finished their expedition of President Jefferson’s great purchase of western land, Americans were itching for a new adventure. Over the next 50 years (1803-1853), St. Louis became the hopping off point to this land beyond the setting sun. It’s there a young adventurer could still have one foot ‘in the east’ but also know that you were literally standing on the edge of one great adventure. Travel fifty miles west of St. Louis in 1830 and you were in no-man’s land. Today, that dividing line between established civilization and the formerly wild & unsettled west is now commemorated magnificently by the famed St. Louis Arch, the tallest man-made monument in America.
When Jesus refers to Himself as being the Gate for the sheep, I like to picture the 630 ft. silver arch that stands on the western shores of the Missouri River in beautiful downtown St. Louis. I’m old enough to remember the arch being constructed in the early 1960’s. Our family would travel many summers when I was a kid to St. Louis to take in a Cardinal’s baseball game and a musical show in Forest Park, and I can still remember watching for the Arch to appear on the horizon as we drove into town. Each year, we’d see a bigger amount of the famed arch standing high above the city skyline. Two aluminum shafts rising in the air. Our family joked about how the folks of St. Louis must have hoped that someone did a good measuring job so that these two rods would meet in the middle!
And meet they did. On October 28, 1965, the final span was put into place and St. Louis finally had its famous Arch to serve as a permanent reminder that this fair city was indeed, the Gateway to the West.
Hmm? I wonder? If Jesus were as visible to our physical eyes as much as the St. Louis Arch, would you and I do a much better job keeping our eyes on Him as our only Gateway to all life? Jesus states it very clearly here that He, alone, is the Gate. The Door. The Entryway. He even goes on to say that there will be many others who will do their very best to convince us that there are additional options of gateways in God’s economy.
Gosh, as I see it, the church does this kind of thing all the time, don’t we? We tell people that if they work really hard at reading their Bibles regularly, or attend church each and every Sunday, that certainly they will find some nice gateways into God’s favor. Put an extra thousand in the offering bucket and the nice man with the flower can get you some special seating options where you won’t have to stand in that long line waiting to get in through Jesus.
Hmm? I wonder?
Maybe we need to re-evaluate some of our church activities and the way we might be selling tickets to folks, offering a quick, painless way for them to come into God’s presence? Jesus seems pretty clear here, folks. It’s come through The Gateway, walking under His Archway, or you just might be buying a ticket to disaster.
My prayer: Jesus, if You are the Gateway to life, why would I want to be found standing in line anywhere else? Worse yet, as a servant of Your Kingdom, show me if there is anything I might be saying or doing that portrays to others that there might be any secret entryways or optional doors into God’s presence outside of You, and You alone. For Your name’s sake. Amen.
My questions to ponder: One author states that in American church life, we mistakenly portray to people that while Jesus is the Door; we, the church, needs to be the screen door! How ugly is that? How might have I added to Jesus’ words here, making folks in my circle of influence believe that they not only need to line up at Jesus’ Gateway, but they also need to come through my church’s pre-screening process as well?
So what is God speaking to you today as we follow Jesus the Nazarene, the Leader of the Church?
Between now and the end of 2015, we will be sharing with you a blog series we first developed in 2013. We call it Follow The Leader: Re-defining Successful Leadership from the Gospel of John. In order to keep all 46 blog sessions organized, we suggest you bookmark our Follow The Leader home page for ease of use. ENJOY!
Click here to go onto the next blog in the series.