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I AM…The Door of the Sheep
“So Jesus said to them again, “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 hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through 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.”
John 10:7-10 NASB1995
The third “I AM” statement of Jesus in the Gospel of John is in Chapter 10. This revelation and the closely related fourth “I AM” statements that follows apparently come immediately after the healing of the beggar who had been blind since birth. The religious leaders are outraged by this miracle and they interrogate the healed blind man and his family; they dismiss the miracle, toss out the beggar and start looking for ways to kill Jesus. He answers them with this imagery of being the door of the sheep. The thieves and robbers are the Pharisees and Scribes standing before Him. Reviewing the many sermons and notes on John in the Precept Austin website, I found an expositional sermon by retired Pastor Steve Cole to be an excellent resource on this passage. Here are a few excerpts with my comments interspersed:
Jesus is the only door of the Sheep: In John 10:2-3, the scene was a common sheepfold in the village where the different shepherds would bring their sheep each night. There was a hired doorkeeper to guard the entrance. But now, the scene probably has shifted to the country, where the shepherd would take his sheep for summer pasture (William Barclay, The Gospel of John [Westminster], rev. ed., 2:58). The shepherd would build a protective enclosure for the sheep so that they could go in for protection and go out to feed. The shepherd himself would lay across the opening to the shelter at night. Thus Jesus could be both the shepherd and the door. Any intruders had to get by him to get to the sheep. As the door, He let in the true sheep, but He excluded predators or thieves that would harm the sheep.
Jesus, by using this “I AM” statement, again points at His divinity. Pastor Cole goes on to say that Jesus is the only source of salvation, safety and sustenance:
Salvation: In the context of the sheep analogy, being saved refers to protecting the sheep from predators that would kill them. But Jesus obviously has the idea of spiritual salvation behind His words. As we saw (John 3:17), “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.” (See, also, 5:34; 12:47).
As I’ve often said, we often toss around the word “saved” without thinking about just how radical it is. If you’re doing basically okay on your own, you may appreciate a helpful word of advice or a bit of encouragement, but you don’t need to be saved. You only need to be saved when you are helplessly, hopelessly lost. Instead of being saved, maybe we should use the word “rescued.” You don’t need to be rescued if you’re doing fine on your own. You only need to be rescued when you’re unable on your own to get out of a situation that will soon lead to your death.
In spiritual terms, the Bible is clear that before you believe in Christ, you’re not just going to die; you were already dead in your trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1). As such, you were what Paul calls a child of wrath (Eph. 2:3). In John’s terms (3:36), the wrath of God was abiding on you. You were under God’s righteous condemnation for your sins. Being spiritually dead, there was no way that you could rescue yourself or do anything to help out with your own rescue. You required God’s intervention.
Jesus is the ONLY door to salvation and eternal life. There are not “many paths to God” for Christians; we must believe in Him and Him only as the path to redemption through His sacrifice.
Safety: This is the main idea behind the picture of sheep going in and out to find pasture. Barclay (ibid. p. 59) says that this “was the Jewish way of describing a life that is absolutely secure and safe.” If the country was under siege, people had to stay inside the city walls. But when they were at peace and the ruler was upholding law and order, people were free to come and go as they wished. Moses used this language in praying for his successor (Num. 27:16-17), “May the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation, who will go out and come in before them, and who will lead them out and bring them in, so that the congregation of the Lord will not be like sheep which have no shepherd.” (See also, Deut. 28:6; 1 Kings 3:7; Ps. 121:8.) So when Jesus, the good shepherd, guards the flock, they are secure to go in and out and find pasture.
Jesus is our security. We need not fear things in this life; we can continue to live and be secure in His protection.
Sustenance: This is the picture behind “pasture,” as well as the idea of “abundant life” (10:10). It’s not pointing to having an abundance of material goods, but rather to the soul satisfaction that comes when you know that the Lord is your shepherd. You know that He is caring for you and He prepares a table before you even in the presence of enemies, so that your cup overflows (Ps. 23:5). He goes with you even through the valley of the shadow of death. In other words, Jesus isn’t promising an easy life where there are no trials or where you get instant deliverance from your trials. Rather, He is promising to meet all of our spiritual needs if we will enter through Him as the door. John G. Mitchell (An Everlasting Love [Multnomah Press], p.193) once asked W. R. Newell, who wrote a commentary on Romans, how many times he had taught Romans. He answered, “I have taught the book of Romans some eighty times, and the pastures are still green.”
True abundance comes from believing in Jesus as our Shepherd. We will face difficulties, but He will meet all of our spiritual needs.
Jesus is the Bread of Life. Jesus is the Light of the World. Jesus is the Door of the Sheep.
The next “I AM” statement that I will explore in the next devotional is in the very next verses of John: I am the Good Shepherd.