The River Walk
I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.
Relate: I pass through a gate pretty much on a daily basis. If I want to cross over from Asia to Europe, I have to walk through a building, pay a toll at the gate, and then hop on a ferry that looks a bit like this:
The thing is, that isn’t the only way I can cross over the Bosphorus. There is also a subway called the Marmary. It’s entrance is awfully close to that for the ferry and it is quicker and more convenient although it doesn’t provide the opportunity for some reading and the beautiful view I get on one of the boats. So if I preferred speed to luxury I could enter here:
There is a third way that I almost never use. Although it is closer to my home, the closest entrance involves more walking to get to and the drop off spots aren’t usually near where I am headed. The one advantage it does have is that it runs later than both the other routes so if I find myself staying too late in Europe (which has happened) I am stuck hopping on the Metrobus and crossing over the Bosphorus Bridge.
Beyond these three obvious ways, there are plenty of others that might be possible but not truly plausible. I could swim. I could try to hire a fisherman to carry me across. I could fly somewhere else in Europe and then head backward. I could buy a hang glider and jump from a nearby hill. For that matter a few inflatable balloons and the right breeze would work. On a slightly more realistic level, I could rent a car and then sit in traffic on one of the two bridges for the obligatory hour it takes to inch forward. (Twenty minutes between 2 and 5 AM when things move a little faster.) There are plenty of ways to get across, but for the three most obvious ones, it involves passing through a gate that looks a bit like this:
React: Jesus had healed a man who was born blind. This was an incontrovertible miracle that the Pharisees could not deny and when they questioned the man about it and he gave credit to Jesus for the miracle they had him thrown out of the Synagogue. When Jesus heard about this, He found the man, the man worshiped Him, and then Jesus turned to the Pharisees who were nearby and accused them of blindness. It is in this context that He then goes into the teaching we have in John chapter ten.
This is important to keep in mind because the Pharisees tried to convince this formerly blind man to forget about Jesus and give the credit to God. Jesus was pretty much saying in response, “If you truly want to give glory to God, you do it through me.” Jesus said “I am the Good Shepherd” Not “a” good shepherd, “the” Good Shepherd. To make the point clearer, he calls all others strangers from whom the sheep run or hirelings who run from trouble. Jesus didn’t run from trouble… He walked straight to it.
In like manner Jesus didn’t say “I am ‘a’ gate.” He said, “I am ‘the’ gate for the sheep.” Again, to remove any confusion, He calls anyone who tries to get in any other way thieves and robbers. There are plenty of ways to get from Asia to Europe here in Istanbul. There is only one way to get from earth to heaven. That way is Jesus. Every other way claimed is a fraud. Every other attempt made is an unsuccessful burglary. Give glory to God. Make Jesus Lord.
God, I need You. There is no other. You alone are the Way, the Truth, and the Life. You alone are the Gate and I long to go through You that I might be where I belong. You alone are the Good Shepherd and I long to listen to Your voice that I may follow. Help keep me from that vile tendency to try and do things my own way. Help save me from that tendency to go off in my own direction. You alone have what I need. You alone are what I long for. Be my Lord. Reign in my life today and forever. Amen.