The gatekeeper opens the gate for him
Certainly early on in our lives, but also into our later years, we have little to no control over the people who make up our lives. We are born into a certain family, sent to a particular school, and grafted into a unique community. The majority of relationships that we begin with our thrust upon us, like physical characteristics – and at times just as defining – yet separate from our person.
It is not until we grow older where we develop more of a say over who will and will not be a part of our lives. We begin to govern our location and friendships. We move, begin and end relationships, and through it all we develop a new sense of ourselves defined through our new relationships. All the while keeping or denying the ones we began with. And although these original ones may change, they rarely completely disappear.
This verse is not talking about the range of our relationships but only one in particular, the one we have with Jesus. God is the gatekeeper who lets him in, to be near the sheep. But as an extension of the analogy it’s easy to see ourselves as being in God’s pasture long before Jesus ever enters the pen. This makes God the gatekeeper from the beginning, allowing persons to enter and sheep to remain; both sheep that do and do not belong to him.
In this view no relationship is by accident. Just like God molded every physical feature on our bodies for his unique purpose, every relationship has also been governed – for many of us that brings a mix of joy and sorrow.
As the gatekeeper, none snuck by without his notice. Even the thieves and the robbers, who believed they had circumvented his authority, were fully known to him.
The highest joy of this verse rests in its final words, for him. For despite every relationship that comes through that gate none can define us as much as this single one. Jesus is above them all. He redeems all their evil, repairs all their brokenness, and magnifies all their good. Jesus is the author of relationship, the reason for the gate.