So Jesus spoke again, “I assure you that I am the gate of the sheep. … I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. … I came so that they could have life–indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.” (John 10:7-10 CEB)
Security gates at airports. Entrance gates at sports fields. Baby gates at the top of stairways. Gates in barbed-wire fences and white picket fences and privacy fences. Gates to control a crowd. Gates to keep people or creatures in. Gates to keep them out.
Jesus the gate often gets heard as Jesus the gatekeeper – the one deciding who’s gets into heaven. But that is not what is written. Heaven is not mentioned; a sheepfold is. Another look at the prior paragraph reveals a gatekeeper opening the gate for the shepherd and the shepherd leading the sheep out of the sheepfold. Out, not in. The sheep follow the shepherd out of a protected, presumably safe space. Out of comfort zones. Out to new places.
Jesus says those who enter through him (into whatever it is being entered) will find life. They will be be saved. They will be able to come and go. They will find pasture. They will be offered life to the fullest, life abundant.
Being saved has to do with being made well, being healed, being restored. It is a here and now thing, a down the road thing, a far in the future thing, and a whatever happens beyond death thing. It is movement toward health and wholeness.
Being able to come and go sounds like freedom. It is certainly physical – no longer chained in a cell or confined to a room. And also mental – not limited by choice or opportunity. Free to fully be the person God calls you to be.
Finding pasture is to find food and rest and, I dare say, opportunity to play and to dream. Think Psalm 23 – a green place where there is a banquet and and you cup overflows. Think open space with room to move and to imagine.
An open gate. Life indeed.