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  • Sonya Leigh Anderson

Name Drop & Near Omission

I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. (John 10:10)

I almost published my book with a rather glaring omission. I honestly can’t believe I missed it. As did my editor, and every other reader…until Dr. Doug. And of course he would be the one to catch it, attention to such details being part and parcel to the man’s brilliance. And I do mean brilliance.

I first got to know Doug Huffman and his amazing wife Deb when I slept on an air mattress on their apartment floor. This would have been the year before Kyle and I were married. My then-fiancé was working in a suburb of Chicago, and I was finishing college here in Minnesota. Kyle and Deb were new hires for the same company—and she’d noticed Kyle was from the same “up north” hometown as her husband. And so the friendship began.

We all ended up going to church together—along with the Jenkins family. The latter being my current favorite name drop. Dallas Jenkins (film director and producer of The Chosen) was a teen in the youth group where Kyle and I were leaders, and his father Jerry (a successful author, known best for his Left Behind series) was our friend. Jerry actually recruited and hired me for a teaching job at the private Christian school his children attended.

Fast forward. A few years ago Dallas Jenkins asked Doug Huffman to consider helping out with a little film project of his. Dallas was looking for a couple of astute Bible scholars to read and critique script for a TV series on the life of Jesus. Doug agreed, and the rest as they say, is history.

So to recap. The same Dr. Doug who is currently an advisor for The Chosen, was generous enough to read and critique my recently published little book. And he drew my attention to what might have been an unfortunate mistake.

I was missing “the door.” An omission that baffles me still.

The door (ESV)—also commonly translated the gate—is one of Jesus’ seven “I am” statements recorded in the Gospel of John—a text which has long been my favorite of the four accounts of the life of Jesus, and the book of the Bible I’ve probably studied most, and taught from most often. Not to mention I am a self-identified BibleProject nerd, and as Tim Mackey loves to point out…

John’s Gospel is masterful in its inclusion of 7’s:

7 “I am” names

7 titles for Jesus

7 “I am” stories

7 “signs" culminating with Jesus’ resurrection

So. I am well aware of the 7’s.

And yet somehow in my nearly completed manuscript, in a list of Jesus’ “I am” names, I had missed one of the seven!

Which as it turns out might very well be something of a parapraxis (or in laymen’s terms, a Freudian-slip.) Admission: this door/gate until very recently seemed (to me) to be rather underwhelming, if even a little bit vague. Also—its occurrence is somewhat buried in a chapter otherwise known for Jesus’ totally unforgettable “I am the good shepherd” (John 10).

Just saying.

But then recently I read something in a Psalm which wonderfully illuminates the GATE in all of HIS GLORY:

Open the gates of righteousness for me;

I will enter through them

and give thanks to the Lord.

This is the Lord’s gate;

the righteous will enter through it.

I will give thanks to you

because you have answered me

and have become my salvation.

The stone that the builders rejected

has become the cornerstone.

This came from the Lord;

it is wondrous in our sight.

This is the day the Lord has made;

let’s rejoice and be glad in it.

Psalm 118:19-24 (CSB)

Let us rejoice, indeed!

My miracle (and your miracle, too) is that Jesus does for us what we could never do for ourselves. You might even say Jesus opens a door…He opens a gate…(actually He IS the gate) which was previously closed. We could never be good enough on our own. We could never be faithful. We could never be righteous.

But now…

Open the gates of righteousness for me…

Jesus can, and He did!

Through his death and resurrection Jesus opened a gate that had never been opened before, and he invites us to enter all the way in.

In the words of Jesus:

I am the gate. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. (John 10:9-10 CSB).

And so he bids us to come into His pasture…to enter through His miracle gate of righteousness…to step through His door and into to His truly abundant and flourishing LIFE!

Goodness! I’m certainly glad I didn’t miss it. Aren’t you?

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