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I AM The Good Shepherd - September 17, 2017

John 10:1-10

Like a lot of scriptures, to properly understand today's story, we need a little backstory. Let's start with the fact that in Jesus' day there were a lot of people who raised sheep. So to speak of being a sheep farmer resonated with everyone. No one really had to do research to find out about sheep, or how they followed a shepherd, or how a shepherd would take care of them. It was simply part of life.
More importantly, before Jesus starts talking about being the gate and the shepherd, he healed a man. More specifically he healed a man who had been blind from birth and the Pharisees went nuts. They were frustrated and angry and hurled all kinds of accusations. They couldn't make sense of

it. So they interrogated the man who had been blind, they questioned his parents, they questioned the man again, and they questioned Jesus. They were convinced Jesus was evil and a fraud.
It was there, in the midst of the mud-slinging and the doubt that Jesus spoke up and said, "Look....if you lack integrity, if you seek to harm people, if you cheat the system....then you're probably a bandit. But when you show up in the light of day, make your actions known, help people, and they trust you and follow you, you're probably the real deal."
Alright, that's not actually what he said, what he really said was, "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. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 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. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him", which, in essence, means, "Let's look at the facts." In the first century, sheep pens were sturdy structures, generally built from rock that was right next to a home. There would be high walls and one gate for coming and going. Now, if the person who owned the home had the flock, they would let themselves in and out. But many of the shepherds had to rent space, so the shepherd would then be let into the sheep pen by the homeowner. So then, imagine the flock is locked up in the pen. The shepherd comes to the house and the homeowner lets him in. They're known to each other and the shepherd is allowed in. As opposed to the guy who isn't the shepherd and isn't a familiar face. No one was going to simply let him into the pen. He had to sneak in if he wanted to steal the sheet. He'd scale the wall or sneak through the gate. And that guy generally wouldn't have tried his antics at noon, he would have waited for the dark of night so he wouldn't be caught.
Jesus tells the Pharisees, "you're over there calling me a liar and a thief...but I'm not doing what a liar and a thief does. I'm here for everyone to see. I'm known. I'm trusted. And I have no shame about my actions."

In understanding Jesus as the good shepherd...We should see he's the one who stands at the gate as they sheep are coming in and make sure they aren't sick or injured, and if they are, he attends to them. Much like he did with the man born blind, he saw that one of his own was sick and hurting, so he helped to heal him. That's the same for us. As we come and go, as we seek safety and shelter, he checks us out to see if we're ok, and if we aren't, he helps us get better. It might seem a bit cliche, but it's the nature of who he is. Jesus is the caregiver. He's the one who is invested in our well-being...down to the smallest detail. You could go back to the analogy and say it's selfish....that the shepherd only cares for the flock for what they will gain for him. But I think there's a much deeper connection. But, even if there weren't there's the very basic truth that the shepherd's livelihood, his very being, is bound to the well-being of the flock. If they fail, he fails. He needs them and is dependent on them....he's invested in them.
And, he's very clear about his intention. In verse 8, we hear him say, I come that they may have life and have it abundantly. Jesus teaches us to think about his true desire for have have have have have have provisions and have it abundantly. Jesus comes to bless us, not to cause us to run in fear, but to find shelter and peace in him.

There's another piece of imagery from this metaphor that's very powerful. We saw what it might look like for the sheep to be near a home, but what about if they were out and wandering? At night, they would need somewhere to be protected, so they wouldn't wander and so they wouldn't be killed by a wild animal. So, the shepherd would make a temporary fence. But generally, those fences didn't have a gate. So, the shepherd would lie down there as the gate. He served as the barrier between predators and his flock. He put his own life there to protect them. He also served as a reminder to the flock. If the sheep saw an animal and felt threatened, their nature was to run, but if they saw their shepherd there as the gate, they would settle down. They would see him and know that they were safe. They were given a sense of peace.
So, when Jesus says, "I AM the gate" he's saying and doing much the same for us. He lays himself down as the barrier between us and harm. And he's there as the reminder that we are protected and sheltered from harm. Seeing him should bring us peace.

Current Church News

  • Vacation Bible School - August 5-9, 2017



    Polar Blast Vacation Bible School is August 5th-9th from 6PM to 8PM with dinner each evening at 5:30pm, come chill with us! "Where Jesus' Love is cool."

  • Community event - "Love Your Neighbor"

    Community event - "Love Your Neighbor"

    Held at the East City Park On Thursday, August 2nd, 5pm-9pm. This event is a  chance four our church to practice command to "Love Your Neighbor" by sharing, food, fun, and fellowship. We want a chance four our neighbors to get to know us and know they matter to us. whether or not they come to worship. We will have food, games, and activities for all people and ages. and we'll get to share a little of ourselves and invite kids to VBS and all generations to our other ministries.

Get Directions

Sunday morning parking at the church is available in the high school parking lot on Third Street across from the church and in the city lots west of the church. These lots are available only on Sunday mornings. A small lot for handicapped parking is available just off of Adams Street on the north side of the church, with an accessible entrance directly into the sanctuary. A lift operates between the Fellowship Hall (3rd Street level) and the Sanctuary . William Sound System Receivers and Headsets are available to assist with hearing problems.

Church Mission

The First United Methodist Church of Moscow, Idaho takes as our mission to be the body of Jesus Christ, ministering to a community which draws strength from its diversity. Our mission centers on the worship of God, expressed through varied forms of prayer, preaching, music, and ritual.  See more...