Since the beginning of the year we have been looking at the ‘names of Jesus’ and within this subject we are currently going through the ‘I am’ statements of Jesus, all having different aspects of Jesus’ character. We have already looked at “Jesus – the bread of life” and how this bread satisfies every need. And then last week we looked at Jesus being ‘the light of the world’, seeing that those who walk in His light will never walk in darkness.
This week we turn to Jesus as “the door of the sheep” (in some versions “gate”). The passage is in John chapter 10:
“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. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly”. (John 10:1-10).
The context is as follows: in the previous chapter the religious leaders have put out of the synagogue the blind man who Jesus healed, they have continued to link Jesus’ works with Satan and to lead the people astray. Following the arrogance and false teaching of the hard hearted religious leaders, it is time for Jesus to bring judgement and reveal them as those thieves who have come to steal, kill and destroy.
As a background to shepherding in Jesus’ time: sheep were people’s livelihood but they were hard to look after. Sheep would be prone to wander off and get lost; to getting hurt in the harsh environment; in danger of being stolen by thieves or eaten by wild animals.
At night they were especially vulnerable. The shepherd would either use a ready-made enclosure if he was near a village, or in the wilderness he would have built his own shelter, the only way out (or in) would be past him.
Sheep knew the shepherd, they knew his voice. I’m sure you’re seeing the connection by now!
Jesus wasn’t just saying he was the guard to the door, but the very door itself. Jesus is the only way that His sheep can enter. In fact the early church was called ‘the way’ because of this passage.
Whilst writing this blog I couldn’t help but think of the story of when Moses was leading the people out of Egypt, in particular when he was told to sprinkle blood on the door posts in Exodus 12: “Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it.” (v7). If the blood was found on the door, the angel of death would pass by. The bible is full of wonderful images like this that point to our saviour.
So is your trust fully in Jesus? Have you entered the ‘narrow’ door through Him? He is the only way we can enter, but once we are in, He is the one who protects us from anyone else getting to us. What a wonderful protector He is!