Church On The Edge
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Church On The Edge

The Gate

Tending sheep was and is a dirty job. By the time of Jesus, shepherds were considered unclean. They were despised, considered untrustworthy, and were not allowed to be witnesses in a court of law, which, by the way, brings us to an interesting observation. It was shepherds who were the first witnesses of the birth of Jesus, and it was women (also considered unreliable witnesses in a court of law) who were the first witnesses of the resurrection of our Lord.

God really does delight in using those who are despised and without reputation to do the work of His kingdom. Consider these verses describing the work of Christ -

“. . . he was despised, and we held him in low esteem.” (Isaiah 53:3)

“. . . he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant.” (Philippians 2:7)

Back to what I was saying — tending sheep was and is a dirty job. You wouldn’t find boys in first-century Palestine, saying, “I want to be a shepherd when I grow up.”

But Jesus, our shepherd-king is the good shepherd, the shepherd who leads us to green pastures and quiet, cool waters. The shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep. He calls himself “the gate” for the sheep in John 10:9, and he says this about those sheep who follow him -

“They will come in and go out, and find pasture . . . I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:9b-10b)

There is a lot of reductionist teaching in the church today about salvation. “Place your faith in Jesus so you can go to heaven when you die.” That was not Peter’s invitation to the three thousand souls who trusted Jesus as their Messiah on the Day of Pentecost. Yes, Peter clearly appealed to his listeners to “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins.” (Acts 2:38) But he went on to say, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” (Acts 2:40)

The word translated “corrupt” is the Greek word “skolios.” It means crooked. We get our word “scoliosis” from it. In The Message, Eugene Peterson translates Peter’s appeal as “get out of this sick and stupid culture.”

The salvation Jesus offers you and me begins the moment we trust Him as Lord and Savior. As we follow him throughout our lives, we find pasture; we experience life to its fullest. And we are set free from the culture of the world, which takes life from us instead of giving life to us.

Here’s what I can tell you about Dan’s life, or I should say Dan and Sherri’s lives. We have never chosen where we live, and we have lived many places. (Seoul, by the way, was the longest at just under twelve years.) But we have gone in and out through the gate, and we have found pasture. Our children have found pasture as well.

Someone once asked one of our children if they were angry at us for moving to Seoul and living so far away. “Not at all” was the answer. “We are better adults for it.”

What I’m trying to say is that in order to experience life to the fullest, to know the joy unspeakable which the New Testament promises, we must be willing to follow our shepherd wherever he leads. We must trust him. This is especially true when we are struggling with circumstances beyond our control.

And he is trustworthy. He is the good shepherd. He humbled himself and made himself of no reputation for his flock, for you. He leaves the 99 every time to search for his missing sheep. He longs for his sheep to make their way through life, going in and out of the gate. This is where life to the fullest is found.

Are you going in and out through the gate to find the good pasture to which Jesus is leading you?

In Christ,

Dan

Check out my podcasts from Church on the Edge and my books on Kindle.

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Seeking to live on the edge, like Jesus. danarmistead.com

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Dan Armistead

Dan Armistead

Dan is the former pastor of Seoul International Baptist Church and Adjunct Professor at Torch Trinity Graduate University in Seoul, Korea.

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