In Chapter Ten of his Gospel John quoted two distinct parables that Jesus gave us. Yesterday we had the parable from verses from 10 to 18. There, Jesus compared himself to a good shepherd. Today we go back before that to verses 1 to 10 where Jesus compared himself to the gateway into the sheepfold.
What did Jesus mean by calling himself the gate to the sheepfold? Well, to start with we must have a clear picture of what their sheepfolds were like.
A sheepfold was a small corral next to every village in the Holy Land. Every family would have kept five to ten sheep, and a youngster in each family would have had the job of leading the family’s small flock out to the hills for grass and water.
At night all the families in town would keep their little flocks of sheep in the common sheepfold. I picture the sheepfold as being maybe fifty feet in diameter, with six-foot high clay walls topped with thorns that would discourage thieves from coming over the wall to snatch sheep. One older shepherd would be positioned in the gateway, guarding all the little flocks.
Mornings would be interesting. Each young shepherd would come to meet the gate keeper. The young shepherd, standing in the gateway would then let out his distinctive clicking sound that his sheep, and only his sheep, would recognize, then some to their feet, and follow the shepherd out to the hills.
In his parable Jesus was comparing himself both to the gate and the gate keeper. He allows only the real shepherds to pass out with their flocks.
The meaning of the parable could be that all of our teaching and the directions we give must be in accord with the teachings of Jesus.