I am the gate for the sheep…I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 7, 9-10
As we meditate on the Shepherd who will lay down his life for His sheep, these leading verses take on a new emphasis. Describing himself as the gate for the sheep would have painted a much more vivid picture to the first century hearers. A sheepfold might be built without a door or gate, requiring some manner of obstacle placed across the opening to protect the sheep within, both from enemies coming in from the outside and from the tendency of the sheep to wander out from the inside. The shepherd willingly lay across that opening in the dark to protect the sheep within, whether they appreciate it or not.
Are we like the sheep, unappreciative of the sacrifice The Gate? Do we see His presence blocking our path as a hindrance? As we think about how positively we view his willingness as the shepherd to lay down his life for us, we should also view his willingness to ‘pen’ us in when necessary so that we are protected from things that we are unable to see. In the presence of the Good Shepherd, we truly can ‘let not our hearts be troubled.’