“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (John 10:10, ESV).
Jesus used the metaphor of a sheep pen or sheepfold and a shepherd to tell a beautiful story in John 10:1-18 of how God desires to care for and protect His people.
A sheepfold was a courtyard bordered by a stone wall in which one or more families kept their sheep for protection. A sheepfold had a gate that was sometimes guarded by a “gatekeeper” (vs. 3), someone hired to stand watch or even the shepherd himself.
Jesus likened Himself to the shepherd who entered the sheepfold by its door or gate to lead his sheep out to find pasture. His sheep followed him because they recognized the sound of the voice of their shepherd, the same way a family pet knows the voice of its master.
When the Jews did not understand what Jesus meant, He used a different figure of speech. Jesus repeated the story, but in the second version He identified Himself as the “door” (vs. 7) or gate of the sheepfold and no one comes in or goes out without His authorization.
But, whoever is authorized to enter is saved from evil (the “thieves and robbers” of vs. 1 and 8 who break in the sheepfold) and enabled to go in and out to find pasture.
Then Jesus contrasts His purpose for the sheep in the sheepfold (people) with that of the evil one. While the devil comes to steal, kill, and destroy people’s lives, Jesus wants people to have life in all its fullness, abundant life, eternal life.
The point of the story is simple and clear: Jesus wants to save you from destruction by leading you into eternal life with Him. And, He is both the Way and the Means of getting there.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, ESV)
- Abundant Life (lyricspire.com)
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