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Tuesday in Whitsun Week

GRANT, we beseech thee, merciful God, that thy Church, being gathered together in unity by thy Holy Spirit, may manifest thy power among all peoples, to the glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the same Spirit, one God, world without end. Amen.

Readings below: Acts viii. 14. & St. John x. 1.

I am the door of the sheep

Jesus uses similitudes in several places in the Scriptures to describe who he is. In our Gospel today he says he is the "door of the sheep". We must first understand the shepherd of the 1st Century to be able to clearly comprehend these verses. In a village, a shepherd would put his sheep in a pen. When he came to get them, he would go to the porter who guarded the pen and be allowed in, and call out his sheep who would respoond to his voice. In the pastures, the shepherd would gather his sheep together in the evening and often place them into some sort of a pen or enclosure. This could have been a natural enclosure. Then he would lie down across the opening and the sheep would not go out. If they tried they would wake the shepherd. The other important characteristic of the shepherd is that his sheep followed him. He did not drive the sheep with a dog as is seen in modern times, but led them, and the sheep knew the voice of their shepherd and distinguish it from all others. He lived with his flock and was their guardian.

Jesus goes on to describe the importance of this similitude. He is the only way that anyone shall be admitted to the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who recognize his voice can follow him, and he will lead them into heaven. He concludes by promising that he will give his followers abundant life.

There are some other places in the Scripture were Jesus uses the door to describe the way into heaven. One is Luke 13:23, in which he says that one must enter through the straight gate, and that the master of the house will stand at the door to allow those in whom he knows. Again in Revelation 3:20 Jesus says he stands at the door and knocks, and that if any man opens the door to him he will enter in with fellowship.

Our epistle reading this day demonstrates this teaching. The Samaritans had received the Word of the Lord, and a baptism, but had not received the gift of the Holy Spirit. We are not told the details, but evidently the Apostles knew that the conversion was inadequate. They personally went to the Samaritans and laid hands on them and the Samaritans received the Holy Spirit. The reading also shows the actions of the Apostles in carrying out Jesus' command on Ascension Day to go into Samaria to preach the Gospel. The Apostles had to overcome their bias against these people, whose worship was considered corrupt, and accepted them into the new Church.

Jesus is the door to heaven. He is the only way. On the Last Day he will call out his elect and they will follow him into heaven. After you have accepted Jesus into your life, he will come in to you and be in communion with you. Through your walk with him day-by-day you will come to know him as a sheep comes to know his shepherd - you will know his voice.



Acts viii. 14.

WHEN the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: for as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.
St. John x. 1.

VERILY, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice; and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. 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.

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