One does not have to go far to experience exclusion, we see it on doors of local businesses that inform anyone who enters that the restrooms are for “Patrons Only”, we see it on the keypads of buildings that require a pass code to enter, we see it inside our churches and temples when people are denied entry based on creed, national origin or sexual preference or even the clothes they wear. If we think about our own lives we do not have to look to deep in our hearts to find it. Jesus saw this and was very careful to address it without boundaries on several occasions. Today the discussion will lead us to a very specific time and scripture. The Sheep’s Gate. Often overlooked in scripture or perhaps misunderstood, the Sheep’s gate was a gate at the back of the Temple, in Jesus day, where the animals to be sacrificed were led into the Temple. Jesus was clear in today’s scripture that if you enter my Father’s Temple, it will be through the Sheep’s Gate, and there can be no doubt which Shepherd you follow through that gate. I want to paint another picture for us today, you see around every sheep’s gate was several pools of water, and sometimes one larger pool of water. These pools were used to cleanse the animals before they were taken into the Temple to be sacrificed to the God of Abraham. Is it any wonder then when Jesus approached the Temple he would always pull up a chair in the back phew, down by the pool. He often ministered here, you see, the people around those pools were the excluded, the Pagans, the thief’s, the prostitutes, the addicts, the lepers, the beggars, the sick and the dying. There were people who also came to worship but were not allowed into the Temple because of birthright or perhaps they were not believers. There were also others around these pools that followed Jesus there with ill intentions, with pencil and paper in hand they were eager to find a way to exclude and discredit his words; they were the Sanhedrin’s and the Pharisees. Jesus was clear in today’s scripture where the front row phew really is, the scripture is from the Book of John, would someone who feels led please read it aloud.
(John 10: 1-19).
So the irony is that the High Priest were inside the Temple showing people the way to the God of Abraham, receiving there burnt offerings and of course there donations, while out back in the lowest place on the Temple Grounds, the very God they offered these sacrifices too was out back saying, Truly, Truly I say to you it’s not the sheep that must die but the Shepherd! Truly, truly, yeah, that one is going to be on the “pop quiz”, pay attention. Jesus used this opening 19 times in the Book of John, perhaps to let everyone know, this is really important. How are we feeling about this whole Sheep’s Gate and the instructions given there? Where might some Sheep’s Gate’s be in this area?
I think when Jesus said not only my sheep but other sheep will hear my voice he was talking about he Jews and the Gentiles alike.
Haywood Street. Yes this is a great Sheep’s Gate.
What about this Abundant Life thing, was Jesus not saying that the Abundant Life is here with me by this pool, not inside?
I think Jesus was saying that Abundant Life is for everyone, and that is does not matter where or whom you are.
Yes, Here the Good News, the Us and Them, ended here around these muddy pools.
You cannot sneak in the gate people, the love and acceptance of all people is required, that is your master password.
I will close with these words; to perpetuate exclusion is to deny the unconditional love that was promised by a Kingdom that is surly coming.
-Peace of Christ