Date: March 24, 2020 (Lent)
Bible Text: Gospel reading: JN 5:1-16 | Fr. Roniel Duenas
Series: Scripture Reflections
Jesus is the High Priest and the Sheep Gate
“Now there is in Jerusalem at the “Sheep Gate” a pool called in Hebrew Bethesda, with five porticoes. In these, lay a large number of ill, blind, lame, and crippled. One man was there who had been ill for thirty-eight years.” (John 5:1) And Jesus healed him.
It’s no coincidence that Jesus encountered these people at the “Sheep Gate.” There is something worth noting in here. The Sheep Gate was first mentioned in the book of Nehemiah 3:1 which says: ”Eliashib, the high priest rose up with his brothers, the priests. And they built the Sheep Gate. They sanctified it and set up its doors. Even to the Tower of Meah they sanctified it, to the Tower of Hananeel.”
In scripture, there are instances in which some issues in the Old Covenant have spiritual meanings in New Covenant.
The spiritual meaning of the Sheep Gate is that the high priest built it, and that through that gate, lambs and sheep were brought to the temple for sacrifice.
Jesus Christ is the High Priest of the New Covenant, who is also at the same time the Lamb, who was offered for the sake of our sins. As the spiritual high priest, Jesus set up doors of the Sheep Gate, which also means that He is the Door of the sheep (John 10:7). Hence, to receive salvation and, therefore enter God's kingdom, a man must enter through the blood of the Lamb (Jesus Christ).
That’s why, in today’s gospel’s healing episode, Jesus did not just restore to health the man’s physical disability but He also freed the man from the curse of sin,--Jesus said: “Look you are well. Do not sin anymore.” Jesus’ forgiveness opens for us the door to salvation and it is good to note that the sheep gate had no locks or bars, for the door of salvation is open to everyone.
In this season of Lent, we are reminded again to come to Jesus who is the Good Shepherd, the Open Door/Gate to Salvation, the High Priest who was made sacrifice for us to wash away our iniquities. Let us seek forgiveness and repent for this is the most important healing we need—the healing of our souls.