Sunday 03 May 2020

Bible Book:

'The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.' (v. 10)

John 10:1-10 Sunday 3 May 2020

Psalm: Psalm 23


Verse 7 of today's reading where Jesus says “I am the gate for the sheep” is the third of seven “I am” sayings in John’s Gospel. Here in Wythenshawe, Manchester, I don’t have a great deal of experience of sheep farming, let alone sheep farming from Palestine in the time of Jesus. However, even a cursory Google search shows images of shepherds leading, protecting, welcoming that fit that culture better than those of pushing, forcing, controlling, boundary keeping. Yet some of the practices ostensibly based on this teaching that I’ve experienced don’t seem aware of this and have been destructive, dangerous and hurtful.

Beyond cultural and historical differences, I’ve highlighted verse 10 as a guide to understanding what comes before. If an interpretation of the shepherd, sheepfold, gate and sheep does not lead to abundant life then it doesn’t fit.

I’ve experienced churches and Christians who place themselves as the gatekeeper, who have told me that I’m not allowed in. I still see my friends being turned away by those who believe Jesus, the gate, can’t be trusted to protect the sheepfold. 

But fortunately, my overwhelming experience of Christianity is of people pointing me to Jesus as the one who opens the way for me. I’m grateful that for every time someone has told me that I’m not good enough, not got the right experiences, the right education, that I don’t use the right words, not come from the right place, don’t have the right look, there have been many more times where I’ve been welcomed for who I am.

I remember the first time I met Dr Revd Inderjidt Bhogal. He was giving a powerful lecture about the numerous Scripture calls to welcome the stranger. It has stayed with me and I wonder how different things would be if we see Jesus as the gate calling out a welcome to strangers to come, be known, be welcomed, find abundant life. If we seek to be his disciples we can see our role as part of that process rather than of guarding Jesus from those people who don’t pass our tests.


To Ponder:

  • If you drew a picture of this image with Jesus as the gate, where would you place yourself? Why? Where is Jesus wanting you to put yourself?
  • What good experiences have you had of people living out this passage?
  • While we live through this COVID-19 pandemic is abundant life only for the past or the future? Where might we find it now?
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