What did Jesus mean when He said, I AM the gate? Well, He was talking to the Pharisees, the religious leaders, and spiritual teachers, of His day. Jesus was making a particular point and was using familiar imagery. But, the Pharisees still did not understand what Jesus meant. This was not because the concept was difficult to grasp but because they were unwilling to change their way of thinking…
I AM The Gatekeeper
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”John 10:1-3 NIV
Jesus told the Pharisees this story, a parable, knowing that they would understand the imagery of a sheep pen. In their day there was often a solidly built sheep pen, made of rocks and stones, outside the city. The shepherds could bring their sheep there at night, as a place of safety, knowing they would be secure and protected from danger.
In the morning the shepherd would call his sheep, to lead them out of the pen, to find food and water for the day. The sheep would recognize the voice of their shepherd and follow him, but they would not follow a stranger.
I AM the Gate For The Sheep
The Pharisees must have looked puzzled at this story because Jesus repeats Himself. He makes the point even more clear:
“Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.”John 10:7
To understand why Jesus emphasized this point here, we need to go back and look at the context of the conversation. The previous chapter, John 9, details the Pharisees’ response to Jesus miraculously healing a man who had been born blind.
The blind man had an encounter with Jesus where he was healed and received his sight. What an amazing miracle for someone who had spent their whole life in darkness! But, instead of rejoicing and praising God for this gift of healing the Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath.
The Pharisees refused to see that the miracles pointed to who Jesus was, as the Messiah, the Son of God. Jesus did not conform to their preconceived ideas; He did not fit with their traditions and views. The Pharisees were spiritually blind.
They had developed petty rules, designed as a hedge around the law to prevent it from being broken. But these rules all focused on practical acts, rather than on the spiritual intent of the law. The weight of their traditions added a heavy burden on the people and smothered the heart of God’s law. So much so, that the general population had given up and did not even try to observe all these rules.
Why Does Jesus Say He is The Gate?
The Pharisees thought that adding rule upon rule, and publicly observing them, was the way to ‘be saved.’ Jesus’ confrontation with the Pharisees builds throughout His ministry as He challenges their hypocrisy and religious stance.
God’s intention was never to burden and weigh us down with rules and regulations as a means of access to Him. The Pharisees as teachers of the law were meant to be good shepherds, opening the door for people to find their way to God. But instead, they were putting obstacles and barriers in the way, making it impossible for ordinary people.
Related Post: Why Did Jesus Describe Himself As The Good Shepherd?
When Jesus said, I am the gate, He was exposing the false teaching of the Pharisees. But more than that He was also introducing Himself as the Messiah, the Son of God, who would become the Savior of the world.
“I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”John 10:9-10
Jesus was stating in clear terms that He alone is the way to salvation. He is the only way in which we can be ‘saved’. We cannot earn God’s forgiveness or make ourselves right with Him. If we acknowledge Jesus, as our Saviour, and ask forgiveness for our sins, God is faithful to forgive.
The Meaning of ‘I Am The Gate’ For Us Today
Bible translators are split on whether to use the term, gate, door, or gateway in this passage of Scripture, (Bible Gateway John 10:1-10). Some translate the Ancient Greek word ???? as a door, or a gate is equally used, and some prefer the term gateway.
But they all describe an entrance, an opening, a way through, to gain access from one place to another. Jesus is the gate, the door, or the gateway, to move from a life lost to sin to eternal salvation. Is it time to change your way of thinking?
Sometimes we can get weighed down by what we think Christianity is all about. We see people failing to follow their faith, and we hear arguments and disputes within the church. It begins to seem impossible to find our way to God.
Then we need to remember what Jesus said, I am the gate, not a creed, or a church, or any other leader. If we accept Jesus’ invitation, we move from being alone and in spiritual darkness to a place of peace with purpose and new life.
When we enter into God’s kingdom, through Jesus and choose to follow Him, we receive the gift of abundant life. That is life with fulfilment now, and life everlasting! There is freedom, and limitless possibilities, as we step out into the wide-open space of God’s grace to receive all that Jesus has won for us.
“I am the gateway to enter through me is to experience life, freedom, and satisfaction. A thief has only one thing in mind – he wants to steal, slaughter, and destroy. But I have come to give you everything in abundance, more than you expect – life in its fullness until you overflow!”John 10:9-10 TPT
Dig deeper – for further reading on the Pharisees and Sabbath traditions.