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John 10:1-18

“ Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “ Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

When little Christian had gone some distance from the place where the three boys lay sleeping, he turned to look back, thinking that perhaps they might now be fully awakened, more anxious to be freed from their own fetters. But he could not see anything of them, and he was just now moving on again when he heard a noise on his left hand and saw two boys climbing up the wall. They both dropped over into the way of the king, and seeing little Christian they ran up to him.

Where have you come from? He asked.

The boys, whose names were Formalist and Hypocrisy, answered, we have been living in the land of vainglory, but now we are going to the celestial city to see the King.

But don’t you know, said little Christian, that you should have come in at the wicket gate?

Oh, cried the boys, that is much too far from our country! We just made a shortcut across the fields and came over the wall.

Little Christian thought that the King would not like people to begin their pilgrimage in this way, and he said, I am afraid you ought not to have done so.

Oh, don’t you bother about it, they said our people never go round by the gate. Besides, what does it matter, so long as we get on to the right road? You came in by the gate, and we came over the wall, and now we are all exactly in the same place.

I don’t think you ought to have done it, said little Christian.

What nonsense! They replied. We are just as good pilgrims as you are, except that you have such fine clothes, which very likely somebody had to give you because your own were not fit to be seen.

This was a very rude and unkind speech, little Christian felt inclined to answer back in the same way. But he had read in his book that the Kings servants ought always to speak gently, even when angry words were spoken to them, so he waited a minute and then said quietly, that is quite true. My things were all spoiled and shabby, and the king gave me these clothes himself. It was very kind of him, and I am very glad he did it, but now I am sure that, when I get to the city, he will know that I am one of his own little pilgrims. And the shining one has set the Kings mark on my four head, and I have a roll which I am to show at the end of my journey. You have not any of these things, because you did not come in at the wicked gate.

Both the boys only laughed, so little Christian left them and walked on by himself.

Presently they all came to the foot of the Hill called difficulty. The way of the king lead over the hill. It was very rough and very steep, the little Christian knew that he must not turn away from it. A spring of cool water was flowing just by the wayside so as he was very thirsty, he took a refreshing drink and then began to climb the rocky path.

Formalist and Hypocrisy were a little way behind Christian, and when they came to the hill they saw two paths, which turned one to the right and the other to the left out of the straight road.

What is the good of climbing up that steep place? They said. These two paths are smooth and easy, as they go round the hill they must come into the Kings way again on the other side.

So Formalist said, I will go along this path, and Hypocrisy said, I will go along that one, and the boys parted, believing that they would meet again very soon.

Now, if they had entered by the wicked gate, they would have known, as little Christian did, that the straight road was the only safe one; but I am sorry to tell you that both of these foolish boys were lost, because they had not taken the trouble to obey the king and begin the pilgrimage in the right way.

Formalist had entered the path of danger, and very soon he found himself in a great wood. He wandered about for many nights and days, but he could not find his way out of it, and so at last he died of hunger and cold.

The path of destruction, which Hypocrisy had chosen, was no better. It led into the mist of some dark mountains, where the boy went up and down until his foot slipped and he fell, wounding himself upon the sharp rocks, so that he too perished miserably.

… taken from “Little Pilgrim’s Progress, by Helen L. Taylor.

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