The third chapter of the book or journal of Nehemiah is one of those “let’s skip that” chapters when we’re trying to read through the Bible. Most of us have done that. We glance through quickly but don’t try even in our minds to pronounce the multi-syllabic Hebrew names. Unfortunately when we do that we sometimes miss a treasure hidden in the midst of the verses.
In this instance, there’s a goldmine. This chapter filled with obscure and really hard to pronounce names, gives us a beautiful picture of what the Body of Christ should be. Literally, it’s a pristine, Old Testament picture of the church! The rebuilding begins at “the Sheep Gate.” (3:1) Don’t walk too quickly past that. The Sheep Gate, some believe, would hundreds of years later be the point of entry for Jesus as He entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday! The rebuilding of the wall literally begins with Jesus. That piece of the building process was led by the household of Eliashib who we are told, was the high priest at that time. The symbolism is too rich to be missed. Jesus, our Great High Priest, is the starting point for the rebuilding of broken walls and broken lives.
When Jesus entered Jerusalem at the beginning of the week of His passion, He walked a path that every sheep, every lamb that would be offered as a sacrifice, had come through before. But Jesus was the end of that sacrificial system which pointed in shadow and symbol to Him! The blood of bulls and goats and sheep, while commanded by God, would be superseded by the sacrifice of our Great High Priest who would offer Himself as the ultimate blood-offering to cleanse our sin. The blood of a sacrificial animal would never be enough to satisfy the need for a truly perfect, willing and guiltless offering who was like us. And Jesus perfectly fulfilled those requirements. No one before Him or since could have done so. Only the God-man, Jesus, the firstborn, the only begotten of the Father, could meet that standard.
And on that one day at Calvary, He did. Your life broken, wrecked by sin? Turn to the One who entered by the Sheep Gate and stood in your place on the cross. Your world broken by guilt and shame? Only His perfect atoning work can wash it away. Your memories distorted by past sins? Only the blood of Jesus can rebuild your brokenness and give you a new beginning.
In Christ alone can the walls be rebuilt. In Christ alone can sin be forgiven. In Christ alone can a new beginning be yours.
FOR MEDITATION: So He said to them again, “Truly, truly I am the gate for the sheep (Sheep Gate).” John 10:7
FOR REFLECTION: The entry through the Sheep Gate was a one-way journey. The animals that entered there never went out again. The next stop was the sacrificial altar. But Jesus said, “I am the gate for the sheep; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture.” (John 10:9) Jesus not only went in through the Sheep Gate to be sacrificed for our sins… but He did something no sacrifice had done before… HE WENT OUT! And those who enter with him, while laying down our lives for Him… will “come in and out… and find pasture.” This is an incredible picture of resurrection life