Words of Faith 11-30-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 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.
Jesus continued to paint a beautiful and powerful image of His relationship to those He was saving. Not only is Jesus the Shepherd, He is also the Gate.
The Gate was the day-to-day entry into the safety of the flock and the presence of the Shepherd. Obviously the Shepherd is the gatekeeper, the one who determines which sheep will enter the sheep pen. But Jesus actually says that He is the Gate. He is the one point of entry into the safety of the sheep pen. There are not several gates. There is one. There are no rival gates that will work. Jesus is the only Gate by which people can enter into God’s provision for them.
This would have been a very practical image for those hearing in the first century. Sheep herding was the most common of cultural images going back centuries to Abraham and before. People knew that when sheep returned to the fold at night after a day of grazing, the shepherd stood in the doorway of the pen and inspected each one as it entered.
If a sheep were scratched or wounded by thorns, the shepherd anointed it with oil to facilitate healing. If the sheep were thirsty, he gave them water. David lifted this same image in Psalm 23:5-6 says: "You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows."
It was also known that after all the sheep had been counted and brought into the pen, the shepherd would often lay down across the doorway so that no intruder, man or beast, could enter without his knowledge. The shepherd became the door.
What a powerful image! Jesus is the Gate, the only way into salvation. Jesus is also the daily Gate, our only door into the provision, protection, healingm and sustenance of God. Jesus is also the watchful “door” preventing dangerous intrusion.
Jesus is clear that there are false shepherds, thieves and robbers. When Jesus said, “All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them” he could not have been speaking of the Prophets. He was likely speaking of the many false messiahs and political leaders who had sought to lead the people out from the oppression of Rome.
He may have also been referring to the religious leaders who sought their own self-interest rather than the needs of the people. Behind the false shepherds is the Thief, Satan himself, who comes only to steal, kill, and destroy.
The goal of Jesus, the Shepherd, is that they may have life, and have it to the full. This is why He has come to call His sheep to Himself. This is why He is the keeper of the Gate. This is why He leads the sheep in and out giving them good pasture and water.
What does this mean for us?
If we understand Jesus as a judge or rule-maker, we have missed Him completely. He came to give, not take away. Jesus came to speak to us and call us apart from the world. He leads us by day and guards us by night. He rubs the healing oil of His Spirit upon the wounds we incur during our days.
Jesus' purpose in coming was the salvation of the sheep. He desires to lead us to rich pastures and fullness of life. Under the protection of Jesus the Shepherd we experience the best that life can offer.
Do you know the Shepherd? Have you heard His voice? Have you entered His protection through Him? Are you entering daily the peace, protection and provision that only He can provide?
Shepherd Jesus, thank You for calling me by name. I choose to enter God’s provision through You. Thank You for Your careful watch over me. Amen.
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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2002, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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The Words of Faith devotion is published five days a week by E-mail excluding Federal holidays. Please feel free to forward this devotion to a friend who might be blessed by this devotion. Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture is quoted from the New International Version (R) of The Holy Bible. Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved. Words of Faith (c) 1997, 2010 Jeffrey D. Hoy. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to forward this copyrighted material or use portions of it with appropriate notation of the source for non-profit purposes.