Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.
8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.
9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.
10 The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
11 I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. (John 10:7-11)
I have begun what I hope will be a sequence of sonnets on the sayings of Jesus, to be called Parable and Paradox, a sequel to Sounding the Seasons, my book with Canterbury Press. I posted the first one some time ago Here.
Now here, for Good Shepherd Sunday, I am reposting the second one, meditating on that great ‘I Am’ saying of Jesus: ‘I Am the Door of the Sheep’.
I remember reading in a commentary once that in this saying Jesus is alluding to the round stone sheepfolds in the high pastures, built with an open gap so the sheep could pass through in safety and the shepherd himself would then lie down across the gap becoming himself the door that kept them safe. So I allude to that, as well as to a number of other doors, opened and unopened in Scripture.
As always you can hear the poem by clicking on the title or the ‘play’ button should it appear in your browser
‘I Am The Door Of The Sheepfold’
Not one that’s gently hinged or deftly hung,
Not like the ones you planed at Joseph’s place,
Not like the well-oiled openings that swung
So easily for Pilate’s practiced pace,
Not like the ones that closed in Mary’s face
From house to house in brimming Bethlehem,
Not like the one that no man may assail,
The dreadful curtain, The forbidding veil
That waits your breaking in Jerusalem.
Not one you made but one you have become:
Load-bearing, balancing, a weighted beam
To bridge the gap, to bring us within reach
Of your high pasture. Calling us by name,
You lay your body down across the breach,
Yourself the door that opens into home.
11 responses to “I Am The Door of the Sheepfold: A Poem for Good Shepherd Sunday”
“he shepherd himself would then lie down across the gap becoming himself the door that kept them safe.” explains so much about this passage. Thank you.
Beautiful. Jesus is gate of the sheepfold. We are cared for and loved in God’s protecting love. The first I found that explained was in the commentary on John by William Barclay years ago, as I was preparing a bible study on the Sunday’s gospel. This, and your sonnet even more so, allows to understand the radicality of Jesus here. I look forward to your forthcoming book.
Reblogged this on My Life and the History of the World and commented:
I have been a shepherd of both the four foot and two foot type of flocks.
Malcolm this is so beautiful, thank you.
The metaphor of Jesus being the load-bearing beam really spoke to me. Your words are beautiful truth.
The sonnet is delightful, bringing such a sense of the care of Jesus for us. How wonderful that He is not only the Lamb of God but also the Great Shepherdof the sheep.
The profound grace of your words move me. Thank you Malcolm.
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