“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 he 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, they 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
In Tune With the Shepherd
“Brown-ear!” “Black-tail!” At the sound of their names, sheep dash toward their master. While in Palestine, the great travel writer H. V. Morton heard shepherds calling their flocks in a “sing-song” voice. Oddly pitched vibrations—music to ovine ears—echoed through the hillside. If several flocks mingled together, the unique call of each shepherd separated them. Other travelers witnessed sheep dancing in tempo to their shepherd’s flute. But a stranger’s voice terrified the flocks, inciting them to flee.
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.John 10:27
Your Rod and Your Staff Comfort Me
Day and night, shepherds worked to protect their sheep from wild animals, thieves, and robbers. The shepherd fought off predators and thieves with his staff and pulled back straying sheep with his rod. Wanderers turned back at the sight of a warning stone from their shepherd’s sling. At the end of the day, the shepherd held his rod low over the entrance to the sheepfold, checking each sheep for injuries as they passed under it.
Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff comfort me.Psalm 23:4
Shepherd and Gate
According to William Barclay, two kinds of sheepfolds existed in ancient Palestine. In villages and towns, gatekeepers guarded the doors to communal sheepfolds for several shepherds.
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 he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.John 10:2-3
In the countryside, open sheepfolds made of stones, wood, or thickets had no door. The shepherd, lying across the entrance at night, literally became the gate.
I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved, and will come in and go out and find pasture.John 10:9
By name, the shepherd calls his sheep.
From wolves and thieves, he guards his keep.
This blog post is indebted to William Barclay’s Daily Study Bible for its anecdotes of Palestinian shepherds and passages from H. V. Morton’s travel book, In the Steps of the Master.