September 29, 2020
“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. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 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. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
I once heard a preacher opine in a sermon about how to tell the difference between a shepherd and a butcher. The shepherd leads the sheep to green pastures from the front. The butcher drives the sheep to the slaughter from behind. Whether accurate or not I do not know, but I do know it makes the point for today’s text.
The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
There is only one way in for the sheep. Follow the Shepherd through the gate. The Pharisees assumed they were already in. Jesus tells them otherwise. He invites them in, but mercifully tells them that all of the other efforts to gain access are futile. There is only one gate. They must enter in through that way.
Sure, people try all sorts of ways to get in. They climb over or blast through by way of their own righteous efforts or religious systems. While they think they are inside, they remain outside. The danger they pose is the way they try to lead other sheep to follow them in their futile ways of salvation (i.e., perfect observance of Sabbath and the hundreds of other laws). This effectively steals peoples’ freedom, destroys their faith, and otherwise enslaves them to an idol or false god.
Why does it bother people that there is only one way into the sheepfold? Why is that unfair? What if it is a simple fact? What if it is the truth? Why would we be angry at the truth? What might underly this anger? Might it be a sense of entitlement that we deserve to be on the inside? What if we don’t deserve to be on the inside? That would mean something like grace was at work—getting what we don’t deserve.
Wouldn’t it be a really good thing that there was even a single way to salvation? What if there was no way in? Wouldn’t it actually be an amazing thing that this single way of salvation was open to absolutely anyone and everyone who would enter in through this gracious gate? And wouldn’t it be the most extraordinary thing in the universe that this access to the sheepfold was not based on our own merits but was a free gift—that no one is entitled yet everyone is invited?
You want to know the gospel truth? This gospel is true. If you don’t believe it don’t say it’s not fair. Just own that you don’t believe it. The amazing thing about this gospel is Jesus still believes in you. He wants you in the fold. He has done everything he can, to the point of laying down his life, so you could be included. He will not decide for you. Only you can do that.
If all of this were true, wouldn’t it make sense that we would want to share this with the whole world? I’m starting to finally understand the obvious. The only sign that I believe the gospel is true is that I share it with others.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, who is himself the brilliance of your grace. Awaken us to the truth about our own faith and make us gracious agents of awakening to others. We pray in Jesus’ name, amen.
1. Why do people consider it unreasonable that God would provide only one way of eternal salvation? Wouldn’t that actually be good news?
2. Do you believe Jesus is the only way to into the sheepfold of the kingdom of God? If not, why not?
3. Do you actively share this incredible truth with others? If not, why not? And what might your unwillingness to share with others tell you about what you really believe?
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For the Awakening,
What if I’m willing but afraid? I believe He is the only way.. I’m not sure I fully understand what that means, though. I have a lot of things, or really I have a lot of fears and doubts that keep me from sharing as often as my heart wants to. One thing is, I’m not sure who to witness to or even what my calling is. And sometimes I’m even worried that I have unknowingly committed the unpardonable sin.. this one sin keeps burning in my mind, and I have been so utterly convinced that that was it.. but it wasn’t… I can’t make sense of why I’m experiencing the things I am but I am under some SERIOUS attack. My night terrors are horrific. As is my thought life and I wonder how I could possibly be saved.. but my heart’s deepest desire is to know God and serve Christ. So I am confused..
I believe the reason that some folks think the single way of salvation is unfair, is that apart from God’s Law, and the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, sinful man cannot fathom the depth of his need,
Because I believe that the Bible is God breathed and is authoritative, I know that Jesus alone is the only way into the kingdom of God.
While I’m not into confrontational evangelism, I try to discern opportunities to share what I know to be true about Jesus being the way, the truth and the life, the only way to the Father.
Sharing the gospel I know is a beautiful thing, I just have had so many things happen that tempt me to disbelieve that. It seems impossible and I know it’s not…I just really want to share it and have a good time that makes me believe it’s a good thing to do…I pray someone would help me