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The Shepherd, the Gate, and the Predator

In preparing for our men's group tomorrow night, I had some thoughts regarding John 10.  Specifically, 10.6b-10.  There, Jesus said:
I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers.  But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate.  Those who come in through me will be saved.  They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

What does Jesus mean by, 'I am the gate'?  In that culture, the shepherd would lay in the gateway of the pen, between the sheep and the outside.  This would keep the sheep in the pen and the predators outside the pen.  The shepherd would protect the sheep from the predators.  If the predators wanted to get to the sheep, they would have to go through the shepherd.  And, as in the following verses, the shepherd would give his life instead of allowing the sheep to perish.

Since we know that Jesus did give his life for 'the sheep', to whom did he give his life?  Who was the predator?  In the imperial Christian tradition, God is pictured as the predator.  God is vengeful.  God will slaughter the sheep with 'eternal damnation' because they 'deserve it'.  But, Jesus dies 'for the sheep' so that the sheep don't have to die.

But, if I am understanding the Celtic tradition correctly, God is not the predator.  Jesus is protecting 'the sheep' from those who want to completely separate themselves from any remembrance of the Sacred.  It is the culmination of Genesis 3.  Those who want to 'do their own thing' and 'be their own boss' do not like being reminded that that way leads further and further away from what we were created to be.  Jesus death was to protect those who have found that the way to true humanity is in self-sacrificing love for others.

So, the 'predators', in my estimation, would be people who continue to live in a lie, a falseness, that true humanity is to 'look out for number one'.  Those people have built entire systems that support just that type of thought.  As long as they get theirs, hang every one else.  And they will crush anyone who gets in their way.  I've seen it happen.

However, I know that I too can be a predator, in this metaphoric sense.  There are times in my life (daily!) where I would rather act selfishly than selflessly.  So, while I may seem to be pointing fingers in a sort of 'us vs. them' way, I am not.  I am aware that it is by the Grace of the Three in One that I do not continue down that path of falseness.  It is through the enabling of the Spirit that I can see the paths in front of me.  And it is the strength of the High King that I can choose the way, the truth, and the life.

Therefore, Jesus is not protecting us from God.  Jesus is showing us how far our Father/Mother will go in Love.

In the Grace of the Three in One,

OD

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