A Gateway of Opportunity
The Meadow is Waiting – Dec. 5th, 2018
Jesus described himself as many things, and he seems to most treasure the idea that we are the sheep of his pasture, and he is our shepherd. I think of the terms that he used for himself regarding us places that framework most prevalent in the New Testament.
Sure, he also used other very different terms to describe himself, you would expect this of someone who was the omnipotent God.
There is a passage that we hear and use often. I want to reference this but more importantly I want to focus in on the verse that precedes it even more than this famous verse in John.
I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance.
John 10:9-10 (CSB)
Jesus the Gate
“I am the gate.”
Jesus take the shepherd equivalence and transitions this to the vehicle by which the shepherd traverses the sheep into lush green pasture land. The image I’ve chosen for today is just that, and you can see how for sheep it would be absolutely necessary for the gate to be their conveyance into the pasture. Jesus calls himself that gate.
There come two questions that we have to consider if we acknowledge him as our gateway to those lush green pastures.
Question 1: Have we availed ourselves of that gateway?
Note for yourself, that Jesus didn’t say he was ‘a’ gate. What he said was he was, ‘the gate”. In other words, there is no other way into that meadow. There is only him.
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.”
John 14:6-7 (CSB)
“No one comes to the Father”, except through Jesus. Those people that have been telling you that there are multiple ways to God, are lying to you. What they reference may be a pathway to a god, but it’s not the one to THE GOD. There is only one way to be justified and purified to be worthy of a relationship with God the Father, and that is through God’s Son, our gateway to those pastures where we can feed upon what God the Father has provided for us.
Question 2: Once going through that gateway, are we fully feasting on the meadow beyond it?
Once on the other side of our Gateway to God’s meadow, you might just think that there was a reason the Good Shepherd lead us there in the first place.
For the most part, sheep aren’t the brightest animals out there. They have a huge tendency to follow each other without consideration of where they are going. We flock to this thing and that, aimlessly trying to find something that we really are not completely sure what that something is. I guess it is fairly easy to see why Christ Jesus was partial to the allegory of us being his sheep and he our shepherd.
We can quickly think of three things that are obvious; nourishment, rest, and safety.
There are other things that fit into this scenario, but for now let’s just focus on these three.
Nourishment – We need to eat physically and the same is true of us spiritually as well. Without the proper diet of God’s Word, we are going to be a sickly flock, vulnerable to sin and influence from the elements of this world.
Taste and see that the Lord is good. How happy is the person who takes refuge in him! You who are his holy ones, fear the Lord, for those who fear him lack nothing.
Psalms 34:8-9 (CSB)
What a contrast to the starving condition we find so many Christians in today. We see them floundering in their faith because they have entered the meadow but are not availing themselves of the nourishment that this pasture provides.
How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!
Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.
He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.
The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand up in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.
Psalms 1 (CSB)
This bearing of fruit is an evidence that we are indeed feeding in the meadow God has provided and we have come to have access to, through his son Jesus.
This bearing of fruit is the love, forgiveness, compassion, and desire to be the Disciples of the Master and pattern our behavior after his in every way.
If we are in the meadow, we should be feasting on the nourishment of the Word of God so that we can bear that fruit and prosper according to the way our shepherd intends us to prosper. That wouldn’t be to garner treasure and trinkets for ourselves but to grow in faith and love and following him.
Rest – The thing about living one’s life for self, is that it becomes exhausting. We labor and strive to be in the position where we can ‘enjoy’ vacations, rest in our vacation home, prepare to relax in retirement.
Certainly, we may accomplish a measure of success in this pursuit but ultimately the money is used up, treasured possessions wear out, the trinkets lose their glimmer, and we can’t find the time to enjoy what we have for fear of losing it.
Real rest comes with surrender. Do you think those sheep that are grazing in the meadow are concerned about the fortification around their grazing field? Not in the least.
Neither should we.
We have only to surrender our will to that of the Master, our Lord Jesus Christ, the gate. If we trust in that gateway and abide in what he provides for us on the other side of that gateway, then there isn’t anything that we lack as we gorge ourselves on His Word.
Safety – The world is a threatening place. It seems to grow worse and worse over time. Jesus our gateway is concerned about our safety.
In fact, Jesus prayed for our safety prior to dying on the cross for us, then rising from the dead and ascending to glory.
I have given them your word. The world hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I am not praying that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth. As you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. I sanctify myself for them, so that they also may be sanctified by the truth.
John 17:14-19 (CSB)
And before he ascended, the resurrected Jesus told us in no uncertain terms that he had been giving the authority by the Father over all things, including our welfare.
Jesus came near and said to them, “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth. Go, therefore, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Matthew 28:18-20 (CSB)
“All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.” ... “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” In another way Jesus is saying, 'I have been given the authority over your situation, I’ve got it covered from heaven to the ground you stand on, I’ve got your back.'
What is interesting here in the Great Commission is that there is a tell-tail reference that corresponds to the gateway passage we first looked at. Let’s repeat it here.
“I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.”
Entering the gate is the means of salvation. We go in, rest, feast, and abide in safety. But we also are expected to ‘come in and go out’. There is that directive to go.
A Gateway Opportunity
And tucked away in the middle of the Great Commission is a directive to the flock.
You, my disciples, GO!
Go and make disciples everywhere to the ends of the earth, teach those disciples everything that Jesus commands us, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
In essence Jesus is saying to us; ‘I got your back, you are safe inside the meadow, feast on my Words, rest, and GO make Disciples of everyone’.