Our Lord Jesus is Immanuel – God with us. And this passage from John 10:1-18 speaks so strongly of Christ’s presence with us and passion and love for us. Twice He emphatically states, “Very truly I tell you…” Throughout this passage, Jesus speaks with righteous authority and passionate words of warning and protection for us. Jesus wants all of us who would follow Him, all of us who are His sheep, to know the truth about the lies and dangers that come at us, attempting to keep us away, or pull us away, from Him. Jesus knows far better than we how very high the stakes are. They are for our very lives. And Jesus knew He would be giving up His own life to save us – now and for all eternity. More than anything, Jesus wants us to know the truth about who He is and how much He loves us.
“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 his sheep.” – John 10:1-2
By this point in His ministry, Jesus had deeply shaken some of the religious leaders’ confidence in their own self-righteous ways and measured lives of piously following the letter of the law, though not embracing the heart of God’s law. Many of these religious leaders were jealous as people turned to Jesus as Rabbi – as teacher of God’s word and ways – rather than following their instructions, religious practices and authority for teaching all things godly.
Many of Jesus’ listeners had witnessed His humble yet authoritative presence and teachings, His miracles of healing, casting out of demons and feeding thousands of people. Those listening to Jesus were probably aware of His claims to be Messiah, to be the Son of Man, to be the Son of God, even calling the Almighty and Sovereign Lord His Father. Many had heard Jesus boldly and gently forgive sins. An audacious act of mercy and authority reserved for the Almighty and Sovereign God alone.
Jesus makes it clear that He is telling us the truth! The truth that there is a world of difference – a life of difference – between Him and all others who want us to follow them. Jesus warns us passionately and persistently that any person or doctrine, any teaching or religious practice that does not line up with God’s holy truth that salvation comes through the one who enters through the gate – through Jesus alone – is nothing more than a thief and a robber. It would be a dangerous and deadly move for us to entrust our lives to such a person or doctrine.
We are to be on guard against any and all who come to teach us – to gather us as his or her sheep – and yet profess anything other than Jesus Christ as the only way to eternal life. It is not by good works that we receive the gift of eternal life. It is not by strict adherence to even the most pious, holy, righteous and good religious practices that we receive the gift of eternal life. It is not by working out some good karma so that we will be aptly rewarded in a future life.
Only through Jesus are salvation, eternal life, eternal peace and being in the eternal, loving presence of the Lord Most High possible! If we are putting our faith in any other teachers, doctrines or practices, or our own goodness, we are trusting in thieves, robbers, liars and killers. Jesus Christ is God with us – the one who enters through the gate. And Jesus alone is the One who enters into our lives with the fullness of God’s grace and truth and life