Easter, the Fourth Sunday

“Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate (θύρας, thyras) but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber. But whoever enters through the gate (θύρας, thyras) is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper (θυρωρὸς, thyroros) opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice, as he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out (John 10:1-3).”

Where’s the gate?

Is Jesus a gate or a shepherd? Some, no doubt, will respond instantly and emphatically, both! While I offer no argument on the popular level one does not hear as many references to Jesus as Gate as opposed to Shepherd. When closely examining the Gospel text for this Sunday, “gate” appears to win out as Jesus’ self-descriptive metaphor prior to developing the metaphor of shepherd.

Translated in this Johannine chapter as “gate,” θύρας is better known in antiquity as a door. When it comes to keeping sheep within a corral,“gate”is certainly a better translation and image than door. Yet we do not want to loose the significance of θύρας as door, particularly in the Greco-Roman world. I offer this for 2 reasons:

First, some literature suggests that θύρας is a type of fence that is erected in time of war to prevent the enemy from launching an assault. Secondly,θύρας conveys a sense of an ‘opening to a new opportunity,’ similar to a common expression sounded when an event causes a ‘new door to open in one’s life.’

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ
though Your people walk in the valley of darkness,
no evil should they fear;
for they follow in faith the call of the Shepherd
Whom You have sent for their hope and strength.
Attune our minds to the sound of His voice,
lead our steps in the path He has shown,
that we may know the strength of His outstretched arm
and enjoy the light of Your presence for ever.
We ask this in the name of Jesus the Lord.

No comments:

Post a Comment