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John 10:7-10 – Jesus Christ, the Gate for the Sheep

Summary

Jesus identifies himself as the gate that leads to salvation for whoever enters by him.

Analysis

Earlier in John 10, Jesus describes a sheepfold, which was a circular enclosure, often made of stones. In ordinary practice, sheep were brought into the fold at night so that they would be protected from predators and thieves. During the day, the sheep were taken out of the fold to graze in the pasture. The sheepfold is a metaphor for the people of God. By identifying himself as the gate or door, Jesus indicates that those who believe in him belong to a wider community. Through faith, they relate to God and to God's people. The pattern of going in and out of the sheepfold recognizes that the faithful regularly gather as a community, then go out into the world, then gather together again. This repeated movement from gathered community out into the world and then back again characterizes the life of faith. This is one of the seven "I am" sayings in John's Gospel. Since the expression "I am" recalls the name of God, who is the "I Am" (Exodus 3:14), these sayings emphasize that Jesus is God's Word in the flesh.

John 10:7-10

7 So again Jesus said to them, ‘Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. 9I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. 10The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.

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10 February 2011

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