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Gospel according to John 10: 1-10 (NIV)
1 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Prior to being ordained as a deacon in the Church of God I worked for several years with World Vision. At that time we shared the organisation’s vision widely: “Our vision for every child: life in all its fulness; our prayer for every heart: the will to make it so.” You may perceive that this vision has, as its basis, John 10: 10, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
Jesus came that those (sheep) who have chosen to enter the sheepfold through him will be saved. Led from the sheepfold to find pasture, they will return to it again – through him and only through him. In him is life (John 1: 4) and that life he has shared with his sheep. That life is a full life; it is a life that has him as shepherd during this earthly sojourn and has the promise (and consequentially our hope) of spending eternity with him as Lord over all creation.
Jesus recognised the thieves and the robbers. There had been many in Israel’s history, religious leaders who had persecuted the prophets sent by God. He knew they were committed to discrediting his ministry and destroying him. “Thieves and robbers” are still active in our societies today, even within our churches. We are to listen to the voice of the only gate we need, the only true gate there is. We are to follow that voice and no other.
Was this King David’s vision in Psalm 36 of “living life to the full”?
5 Your love, Lord, reaches to the heavens,
your faithfulness to the skies.
6 Your righteousness is like the highest mountains,
your justice like the great deep.
You, Lord, preserve both people and animals.
7 How priceless is your unfailing love, O God!
People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
8 They feast in the abundance of your house;
you give them drink from your river of delights.
9 For with you is the fountain of life;
in your light we see light.
And so we may pray (Psalm 36: 10)
Continue your love to those who know you,
your righteousness to the upright in heart.