May 7, 2017: Fourth Sunday of Easter
“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger; they will run away from him, because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech, the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.
So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy; I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (John 10:1-10)
This Sunday’s Gospel says directly that Jesus is using figures of speech. In other scripture passages, he has called himself the bread of life, the light of the world, and the way. Now he compares himself with a shepherd and with a gate for the sheep. As the good shepherd, he knows and loves his sheep, calling each by name, and leading them safely. As the gate for the sheep, he protects, guides, and directs them to good pasture.
And what is Jesus trying to tell us? No mistaking this message: he has come so that we might have abundant life.
Abundant is the opposite of scarce. It means plentiful, more than enough, well supplied. To “have life and have it more abundantly” suggests fullness of life, being fulfilled.
This week I will listen for the voice of the shepherd. Do I recognize the voice of Jesus in my life? How does he speak to me and what is the message? Does it bring me joy, peaceful confidence, fullness of life?