Therefore, Jesus said again, ‘I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’
In the context of John 10, Jesus is contrasting the characteristics of the “Good Shepherd” with that of the “thief,” or the one who seeks to do harm to the sheep, ultimately as part of his ongoing battle with God Himself. So much of our spiritual battle is not even about us, referring back to the Apostle Paul’s writing in Ephesians 6: 10-11 he states, “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not with flesh and blood, but against rulers, against authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms (Satan and his demons).”
The psalmist David so vividly described in Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd,” which includes the attributes of God being our “Protector” and our “Place of Refuge” in times of trouble. He is also our stronghold of faith when attacked or persecuted by the enemy or anyone in this world being under the control of our enemy used to attack our character, integrity, or motives for Christ. Jesus continues, “I am the gate (John 14:6 “I am the way the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.); whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.” Jesus as our “True Shepherd” gives us comfort, strength, and assurance in the midst of spiritual battle or persecution, providing “safe pasture.” David continues in Psalm 23:2, “He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters,” especially in the midst of trials, spiritual attack or persecution.
Jesus contrasts Himself with the “thief,” who represents the “enemy”, “the wolf”, “the father of lies” and false accusation, who would come to lead His sheep astray, disrupting the full, abundant life God promises to provide as we abide in Him. “The thief comes only to steal, and to kill, and to destroy; I have come that they (My sheep) may have life, and have it to the full.” Living a vibrant full life in Christ involves daily walking in His truth and promises - moment by moment inviting Him into our circumstances, drawing closer to Him with simple steps of obedience as He has already won the victory over our enemy as well as the enemies of our “full, abundant life” in Him. As we desire to do His will and continue to press on despite our circumstances, we become free of the lies causing crippling fear and anxiety, thus we remain full of God’s truth about who we are in Him. Jesus has already given His life for us: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.” Our redemption story began at the cross and will continue throughout our earthly life as we daily surrender our lives completely to the Lord, until will meet our Savior for all eternity.
Today, our focus must remain on our redemption in Christ at the cross along with His continual redemption of our entire life story for His glory and purposes. Much like the Apostle Paul, once a persecutor of Christians, he was raised up in Christ as probably the most dynamic minister of the gospel in his time. God has this same redemption and refining process plan for our lives moving forward as we seek Him. As we purpose to do His will in our lives, we must remember that His promises of protection, refuge, and strength against spiritual attack hold true today just as they did in the lives of so many other saints throughout the Bible. God will not allow His plans for our lives to be thwarted by the attacks and persecutions directed at us from the “flaming arrows” of the devil himself, or anyone used by the enemy to attack us. Not only is our ultimate salvation secured in Christ Jesus, our Savior, but also His perfect plans for our lives as we daily journey with Him, regardless of the difficulty or uncertainty of our circumstances.
Connecting Faith & Life:
Father, thank You for being the “Good Shepherd” who is our ultimate source of protection, rest, and place of refuge. You are faithful to give us life more abundantly as we pursue a closer relationship with you, allowing You to lead us into “safe pastures” when we’re weary and worn on life’s journey. Thank You for reminding us of the promise that You are The Way, The Truth, and The Life – as well as the fact that the daily battles we face are not our own, nor are they to be fought in our own strength. We’re able to be strong in You, Lord, and in the power of Your might. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen!