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Lesson 4: Jesus Is the Gate for the Sheep

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So far, we painted the portrait of Jesus with three ways He described Himself to those listening to Him. Remember these truths about who Jesus Christ is and what He does for you.

  • Jesus is the “I Am.” He is the answer to the spiritual needs of every person.
  • Jesus is the Bread of Life. His abundant love satisfies our hunger for a relationship with God.
  • Jesus is the Light of the World. His light directs us to follow Him.

In this lesson, we will paint Jesus as the gate for the sheep.

Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep…whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:7, 9 NIV)

Paint Color #4: Orange

The color in this lesson is orange—a color often associated with safety. You may have seen a highway construction worker wearing an orange vest. Highway workers also use orange cones and barrels to tell the driver which lanes are open and which are closed for repairs. In fact, the shade of orange used is called “Safety Orange.” The United States government requires that certain construction equipment must be painted “safety orange.” So, what does “Safety Orange” have to do with Jesus?

In John chapter 10, Jesus described Himself as a shepherd for sheep. It is common in the Bible for kings and priests and other leaders to consider themselves shepherds of the people, their sheep. In this lesson, we’ll learn what it means when Jesus called Himself a gate for the sheep. In the next lesson, we’ll cover Jesus as the good shepherd.

1. Read John 10:1-10. How does Jesus describe Himself in verses 7 and 9?

You might be thinking, “That sounds weird. Why does Jesus call Himself a gate or door? What does a gate have to do with being a shepherd?” Actually, it made a lot of sense to the people listening to Him.

Every community would have a sheep pen with high walls and one doorway. Some countries today still have these kinds of sheep pens. Several flocks of sheep would go in the sheep pen at night to keep them from wandering and getting lost. The sheep inside the walls would be kept safe from wolves and thieves who tried to break in and steal them. A watchman would guard the opening all night long.

Here’s what happened every day if you were a sheep. In the morning, you and your sheep friends see the shepherds come through the doorway to get their sheep. As the shepherds are calling out to their sheep, you hear your own shepherd’s voice calling the special name he’s given to you. Yay! You run on your little sheep legs to where he is. He leads you and your flock mates out of the sheep pen. Then, he leads the flock to the pastures. You follow close behind him.

Once you get to the pastures, you see a small fenced area. The shepherd takes his place in the doorway or entrance of the fenced area and functions as a door or gate. You can safely go out and munch on grass for as long as you want because your shepherd is watching over you. But, if you get tired or frightened, you can go into the fenced area where it is safe and secure. Your shepherd is still watching over you. He is the gate.

2. Reread John 10:9. Look again at what Jesus said He does as the gate. What does Jesus promise to anyone who enters through Him as the gate?

See that phrase “will be saved?” The Bible teaches that every person needs to be saved because of sin. Remember that God loves everyone. But, every person has done bad things called sin. God says that sin separates us from Him forever. He didn’t want that to happen so He sent His Son Jesus to take the punishment for your sin and my sin so we don’t have to be separated from God forever.

When you trust in Jesus and what He did to take away your sin, you are saved. You are saved from being separated from God, and you are saved from being punished for your sin. That’s what it means to be saved.

When Jesus says, “Anyone who enters through me will be saved,” He was telling the people that anyone who trusts in Him will be saved from being separated from God forever.

3. Notice what the sheep can do within this “safety” zone.

Being able to come and go to find pasture presents a picture of freedom and fulfillment, doesn’t it? Jesus offers that to us as His sheep as well.

The phrase “will be saved” can also be translated “be kept safe.” To those who already trust in Jesus and are already following Jesus like sheep follow their shepherd, Jesus promises to keep you safe. Now, people are not really sheep. But, every person needs to feel safe. There are enemies out there who want to hurt Jesus’ sheep.

4. Reread John 10:10.

  • What do the enemies want to do to the sheep?
  • That’s not good for sheep, is it? What does Jesus promise His sheep?

5. What is your concept of abundant or full life that is rich and satisfying?

Abundant life is life that is so satisfying that it is like a cup overflowing. Better than any sheep could ever dream about. As a follower of Jesus, He promises you life that is full and satisfying. The Bible calls it eternal life. We sometimes think it only starts when we die and go to be with Jesus in heaven. But, you have eternal life while you are here on earth, too.

This life with God that Jesus provides for you is good and satisfying. You only need to follow Him to enjoy it here.

Jesus is the gate for the sheep. There is safety in following Jesus and doing life His way. Notice that Jesus said He was the gate for the sheep, not the jail keeper. 

6. Reread John 10:9. Why should you consider Jesus to be someone who offers you freedom to live a fulfilling life rather than someone who is restrictive?

Following Jesus

1) Bible verse to learn:

Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep…whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. (John 10:7, 9 NIV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

You can feel safe in Jesus’ loving arms knowing He cares so much for you and is watching over you while you enjoy the freedom He provides. Thank Him for doing that for you. Ask Jesus to direct you to His way of doing life. Following Jesus’ way of doing life can help to keep you safe from enemies in your life. Do you recognize other voices trying to get you to follow them? What would it look like in your life to choose to follow Jesus as your shepherd rather than anyone who tries to keep you from following Him?

3) Filling in the portrait of Jesus:

Christianity is Christ so spend a few minutes each day reading the verses and reflecting on Jesus—His life, His relationships, and His teaching. Get to know Him well—this One who loves you dearly.

  • Read John 7:1-24. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read John 7:25-53. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read John 8:1-30. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read John 8:31-59. Reflect on what you read.

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