The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
10 “Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen 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 recognize 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.[a] 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.
I’ve never met a person who wants to live a bad life. We all long for a good life, but we all have very different perceptions of what exactly the good life is. Is it a wealthy life, a recognition and status life, a life full of family and friends, or some combination of all of the above?
How would you answer that question? Think carefully, and understand that how you respond will influence how you live and what you live for. As followers of Christ, we should allow God to guide us in our pursuit of the good life. What does it mean to live a good life in the context of Christianity? Jesus is our example and our teacher.
“I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” The word translated here to mean “life to the full” is the Greek word “perissos." This means “exceeding some number or measure, more than is necessary, exceeding abundantly, extraordinary amount, more remarkable, more excellent.” Jesus came that we may have a life that is extraordinary, abundant, and remarkable. Does this mean we should have an abundance of wealth, things, friends…? Or is this meant to be only spiritual abundance and a remarkable faith? I believe the answer is somewhere in between.
In verse 9, we are told that Jesus is the gate, and the sheep that go through Jesus will be able to go in and out, find pasture. They will have freedom, have all they need provided, and find life to the full. Sheep are simple creatures, they really just need food, water and space to move around. They easy follow their shepherd because they tune into his voice exclusively, rejecting any other voice. Maybe we are to be like sheep, entering the full life through Jesus, finding pasture and provision for our needs, free to roam about, but always listening for the Good Shepherd to lead us to the next place. Sounds simple. But as humans, we get distracted easily - by stuff, other voices, desire for status…. So, what if life to the full is simply about entering through the Jesus gate? We are free to come and go, as long as we go back and forth through Jesus, always and everything through Jesus. Yes, I think that is life to the full.
Dear Lord, thank you for loving me so. Thank you for giving me the kingdom, allowing me to play a part in your great love and grace. Remind me that life is about more than the daily necessities, and show me what it looks like to see your kingdom. Give me courage to follow you each day. In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version ® NIV ®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2014 by Biblica, Inc.®. Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.