“I am the gate; if anyone enters by me he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”
Ancient sheep pens had only one gate. Sheep entered or left the pen by that gate or not at all. At night, when the sheep were gathered within the enclosure, the shepherd actually slept in the opening. He was there to keep the sheep from wandering off and to protect them from predators.
The writer of the Letter to the Ephesians gives us some perspective on the one Gate who is Christ, the Word of God. “There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call, one Lord, one faith, one baptism.” (Ephesians 4:4-5)
The image of Jesus Christ as the Gate, the place of access, is focused, narrow and exclusive. It is meant to be. For it is only in the Word and promise of God by which the Holy Spirit unites us with the One Lord, into the One Faith, through the One Baptism. God in His gracious love not only tells us in His Word about what he has done for our salvation, but in the One Baptism He places the seal of promise upon our heads. In baptism God, the Gate, opens the way, becomes the Way. In the One baptism God says, ‘Everything my Son has done is for you, not just for the world in general.’ In the One Baptism God makes the promise specific to you.
There is nothing flattering about Christ referring to us as sheep. It is an image of a creature who becomes easily lost, is vulnerable to predators and cannot look out for its’ own welfare. But because we are blessed to have a Good Shepherd, One who loves us and and has given His life for us, we may enter the dicey business of living with confidence and assurance.
He who has called you by name in your baptism and watches your going out and your coming in has opened your future. You can trust Him. For even this day He is leading you into the safety, abundance and freedom of His kingdom.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”