In trying to hear the passage from John 10, I went to look at the wider context. One of the texts I found challenged me – John 9: 39 Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” 40 Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, “What? Are we blind too?” 41 Jesus said, “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains. — This certainly fits with other teachings of Jesus – the first shall be last, those who would loose their lives will find life. Yet Jesus also says, “47 If anyone hears me and doesn’t obey me, I am not his judge ? for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. 48 But all who reject me and my message will be judged at the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken.” (John 12)
Here seems to be the connection. Jesus has not come to judge, but his presence makes judgement possible, because He clearly manifests the presence of God, so that those who reject Jesus will eventually be judged and found lacking with the truth of Jesus’ words is born out in history. The application of this, I think, is that in the same way we are not to judge, but to speak the truth as we understand it and allow the truth to be the standard and judge. Our role is to love and forgive and save the lost – those who are under judgement. We can not both reject them and love them. So we love them and minister to them in humility – If Jesus did not stand as Judge, then neither should we.
As to the text from John 10 about the Shepherd and the Gate…. Jesus seems to be mixing metaphores, or shifting the metaphor because folks didn’t get it the first time. He attempt to explain things by comparing himself to the Shepherd, but the Truth does not sink in. So, recognizing this, he adjusts His tact rather than beating up on the people who are slow to understand. “OK,” He says, “Let’s try this example…I am the Gate through which the sheep pass…” and then he reverts back to the original image of the Shepherd. I haven’t found the refrence, but I have heard someone say that the shepherd would literally lay down in the ‘gateway’ of the sheep pen, thus being litterally the gate keeping sheep in and wolves out. Only ‘by, through, or past’ him could the sheep enter for safety, or exit for food and water. Thus all the provisions of life about which Jesus teaches us not to worry in Matthew 6, the Shepherd provides for the sheep, and the gate is the passage back and forth.
Application: I want to know the Shepherd’s voice, and his alone. I want to be drawn toward Him, to follow him to nourishment and refreshing and to rest and security. AND, I want to be an undershepherd who breaks the model Jesus gives here. I hope to be found trustworthy and not abandon the flock in time of trouble