Part 42 – John 10:7
Jesus is the Gate.
When we move on to the second picture in this sequence on Shepherds in v 7 – 10 we find that Jesus says he is the Gate. In fact he says I AM the Gate for the sheep, one of the seven I AM statements with a description following. This one is often overlooked because it is so close to the next I AM statement – I AM the Good Shepherd – which is both more striking and more easily understood. In fact it is quite surprising that he does not call himself the ‘gatekeeper’ that he mentions in the previous verses. Perhaps the Holy Spirit is the ‘gatekeeper’.
What Jesus did say about himself was “I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture … I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” He is clearly moving towards his striking statement in chapter 14 “No one comes to the Father except through me.” There is only one way to a full life worth living and Jesus is that way.
Neither the word ‘focus’ nor the word ‘centre’ appear in the New Testament. It is this statement here that has to stand in place of them. Jesus is the focus of all that goes on in the life of a Christian, a true Christian who follows Jesus. He is there when we go out and he extends the ‘going out’ metaphor to include grazing in the green pastures that he leads us to. He is also there when we ‘come in’ to be saved. All that happens in a Christian’s life, or a Christian church, is to be centered and focused on him.
That is not quite as easy as it might appear to be. People can invent hundreds of ways to concentrate on something else other than Jesus. We can emphasize being good, being regular at church, being careful to evangelize at every possible or inappropriate opportunity, enjoying all the most exciting special gifts of the Spirit, going to every big event that a great many people are at that we ever hear of, and so on.
But if you think about those things, what might you find? Being good is more about the individual’s smug goodness than anything else; being regular at church only demonstrates to other people the consistent loyalty of the person; evangelizing at every opportunity is another way of holding oneself up in front of other people; enjoying all the special gifts of the Spirit is simply exciting; going to special events is an attempt to get an extra jag of spirituality; and so we could go on. There is virtually no human activity which cannot be used for the holding up of a person to an admiring world!
The only thing that should possibly compete with Jesus for the Christian’s attention is the Bible, the Word of God.
If we are to enjoy the rich presence of Jesus throughout our daily living we must concentrate on him. We can do many other things to keep ourselves occupied and to help other people but one, and only one, person and no thing must stay at the centre and the focus of our thinking and our whole lives. That person is Jesus.