May I make two important observations? We all know the psalm about the Good Shepherd. The role of the shepherd is to protect and shelter and feed and water the sheep. We love that image and can relate it to God’s mercy. When Jesus talks about himself as the Shepherd, he adds a dimension that is not in the Old Testament. He adds the dimension of hearing and listening. ‘My sheep know my voice”. “I know mine and mine know me”. The voice of the Shepherd is easily and infallibly recognised by the dumb animal. God speaks to us!!!!!!!
Today the image is that Jesus is the GATE of the sheepfold. I would like to take a little time to explain this.
At the time of Jesus, a shepherd would have about ten sheep at the most. He would know them all by name. They would recognise his voice. After a hard day searching for food and water in desert conditions, they would return home to the sheepfold. This was a community compound fenced by thorny desert trees that had a gate less than five feet wide. Many shepherds would leave their sheep in this same compound. One shepherd would take his turn and be on duty for the evening. He would sleep across the five foot gap. No predator could cross to attack the sheep.
We need to meditate on this image to understand Jesus’ image of protector and guardian of the Flock! It is a beautiful image that needs prayer.
We are safe with the Shepherd. We are safe from attack by day and by night.
“I came that you may have life and life to the full”.