John 9:35-10:21; Mark 10:2-22; Matthew 19:3-15; Luke 16:18, 18:15-23
Jesus made it pretty clear that he wanted to go to the cross. Very plainly he said no one can take his life from him, but he is going to lay it down of his own accord. He has the authority to die and live again.
He was talking about the sheep and painted a picture of the New Testament church. As the Good Shepherd he loves the sheep. He brings in sheep from other pens and makes them one flock. (As a non-Jew that thrills me!). The Good Shepherd protects his sheep with his life.
Jesus calls himself the gate and reminds us that he is the only way into the pen. There just is no other way. Salvation is inside the pen where Jesus promises to give abundant life to the sheep.
As Christians we realize that we are the sheep, that salvation comes only through Jesus and his work on the cross, and that he gives us more than we could ask or think in this life and in eternity.
When the rich young ruler asked Jesus what he could do to earn eternal life Jesus, knowing that eternal life cannot be earned, listed the criteria. Don’t murder, don’t steal, don’t commit adultery, etc. The young man said something like, ‘Got that covered, Jesus. I’m golden’.
It touches me that Jesus looked at the young man and loved him (Mark 10:21). Then he said, ‘go sell everything, give it to the poor, and follow me’. In other words, ‘Ok, so you’ve succeeded in playing the I’m a Good Person game. Let’s check your heart’s condition.’
We read the man left disappointed. Maybe he thought Jesus was asking too much. I’m not sure. But the young man left knowing that earning eternal life was more than just loving his neighbor and being a good guy.
I do know that our Good Shepherd loves us, that he willingly laid down his life for us, and that he is alive today. I know that he is the only way to the Father, that he cares for us and blesses us when we give our lives to him. And I know that eternal life is his gift to us, paid for by his blood and nothing I do can earn it on my own.
Good Shepherd, thank you for your provision of abundant life on this earth and eternal life with the Father. Thank you for showing us again and again that you are the only way, that your work on the cross is available to all people, and that the ticket to eternal life comes with accepting it on your terms. Thank you for willingly going to the cross so that we can walk through the gate and experience the sweet fellowship we have with you. I like being a sheep in your flock, Lord.