Jesus’ “I Am” Statements – 04 (“I Am the Door of the Sheep”)

 (Message by Kobus van der Walt, Three Rivers Baptist Church – Sunday, 24 February 2019)

  • INTRODUCTION:

In today’s teaching, we will be looking at the 4th“I AM” statement by Jesus. He again uses Old Testament language to define His own Person and His work. When He uses the “I am” formula, He uses the formula of the statement that equates to the Old Testament language for GOD.

We have already looked at three of the eight “I Am” statements of Jesus, namely I am the Bread of LifeI am the Light of the Worldand Before Abraham, I am. Today we are going to look at the statement that Jesus makes in John 10, “I Am the Door of the Sheep.”

We must also take note of the fact that Jesus expresses another very important “I Am” statement when He calls Himself “theDoorand in the same conversation, Jesus also calls Himself “the Good Shepherd.It is important to distinguish between the two different statements. However, it is essential to note that although we distinguish between them or appreciate their difference, they cannot be separated from each other, because they are so closely related.

The first one of the two is the statement “I am the Door…,”but let’s look at the context of these two statements. Just before the 2nd“I Am” statement by Jesus, He healed a man born blind. After that He proclaimed that He is “…the Light of the world”(8:12). The religious leaders of the Jewish community were furious about this miracle and especially after Jesus claimed, “…before Abraham was, I am”(8:58). Instead of rejoicing about a member of the “Jewish Church”and abrother of the leaders, that was burdened since his birth with blindness, they were furious with Jesus, they wanted to kill Himand they excommunicated the healed man. In the light of this situation, the Pharisees were supposedto be the good shepherds to their flock, but were characterisedby their lack of appreciation and happiness for this man,becauseJesus proclaimed Himself as the “Good Shepherd.”

  • SCRIPTURE READING:

John 10:1-10 ~ “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. 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 sheepAll 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. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” 

  • BACKGROUND:

Shepherds faced the ongoing challenge of teaching their sheep and goats to obey their commands. Even so, good shepherds took tender care of the animals in their charge, even giving them names to which they would respond. In the evenings the shepherd would lead his flock to a pen (Afrikaans: “kraal”) where he would add his small flock to another one, or more than one, because these pens would contain several different flocks of sheep and therefore various shepherds would come in and out of the pen. 

These pens or sheepfolds were either made of tree branches, or rock and on top of the walls, were long spiky thorns in order to protect the sheep from thieves or wild animals which could come and harm them during the night. There was also a gate through which the sheep were taken in and out the pen and most importantly, for the shepherd to enter. There was also a gatekeeper that was sitting at the gate or in the pen, looking after the sheep during the night and guarding the gate – he was not the shepherd, but the guardian of the gate. We must remember that the entrance to the place of safety for the sheep is the “door”(or gate).

In the mornings the shepherd would open the gate and call his sheep by their names. The sheep knew and recognised their master’s voice. When they heard him calling, they would go to the gate and follow him out into the field. This reminds us of 10:14, 16 ~ “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me… 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice…”

In today’s Scripture reading, we see that Jesus says, “I Am the Door of the Sheep.”We will look at the topic of Jesus’ fourth “I Am” statement, by following three main points:

  • The Open Door (10:1-4).
  • The Shut Door (10:5).
  • The True Door (10:6-10).
  • THE OPEN DOOR (10:1-4):

In 10:1-4, Jesus says that when fetching his sheep, a true shepherd comes in through the gate or the door, and the gatekeeper or porter recognises him. The thieves and robbers could never enter through the door, so they had to climb over the wall and enter the fold through deception. But even if they did get in, they would never get the sheep to follow them, for the sheep, as we’ve already seen, follow only the voice of their own shepherd. The false shepherds can never leadthe sheep, so they must stealthem away.

What is another function of a door, more specifically, what is the function of the gate/door in this parable of Jesus? In the original Greek, the word that is used, is θύρας(“thyras”) or “thyra”which refers to an entranceway into a building or a structure. The same word is used in Mark 16:3 ~“And they were saying to one another, “Who will roll away the stone for us from the entrance of the tomb?”These are literal uses of the word “thyra,”but here in John 10:9, the word is used in a figurative way, referring to Jesus as the means of access to salvationIn John 10:9 the emphasis is upon the door as a passagewayand not as an object closing off an entrance. Literal translations of ‘I am the door’may often lead to misinterpretation, since the term used for ‘door’is likely to refer to a literal door rather than to the entranceway, thus suggesting that Jesus Christ functions primarily to prevent passage rather than making entrance possible. In this instance however, Christ the Door, functions as a passageway. 

In many cases we have a figurative use of “to open the door,”which can refer to both God and man as opening the door – man opens the door to God by repenting, and God opens the door to man by giving him opportunities (e.g., for intercession or repentance), or by granting grace. Man opens the door to Christ in a religious sense in Rev. 3:20, i.e., by penitent obedience (Afrikaans: “berouvolle gehoorsaamheid”). In relation to God the expression finds a place in missionary usage in a twofold sense – God opens a door for the missionary (Col. 4:3, for the Word), through which he can enter, by giving him a field in which to work (Col. 4:3), and on the other hand,  He opens a door of faith to those who come to believe (Acts 14:27), by giving them the ability of believing. 

If God’s opening of the door signifies the giving of grace, the opposite figure of closing the door, which expresses the irrevocable loss of an opportunity (Rev.3:7; Matt.25:10; Luke 13:25), carries a sense of judgment. The power of Christ to open and to shut (Rev. 3:7) shows that He possesses full authority, since grace and judgment are both in His hand.

When Jesus opens the door and He calls His sheep by their names, they follow Him out of the pen to green pastures.

In this “I am”statement, Jesus colourfully points out to us the exclusive nature of salvation by saying that He is THEdoor,”not Adoor.”Furthermore, Jesus is not only our Shepherd who leads us into the “sheepfold,”but He is the ONLYdoor by which we may enter and be saved (John 10:9). Jesus is the only means we have of receiving eternal life. There is no other way ~ “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life”(John 3:16). 

  • THE SHUT DOOR (10:5-6):

Jesus makes it clear in vs.1, that any religious leader who offers salvation other than the teachings of Christ, is a “thief”and a “robber”“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.”  

If someone asks us what we will do when confronted by “a thief and a robber,”then we can quote vs.5 to him ~ “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”As a door in the literal sense, provides a way of separation. There are those who try to come into “the fold”without coming through the door, they are to be ignored and even resisted. Rather than provide the way of access into God’s fold, Jesus says in Luke 11:52, that these thieves and robbers ~ “…take away the key of knowledge…”and, because of the interest in only themselves, according to Mark 12:40, they…~ devour widows’ houses…”  Moreover, they are like the hired man mentioned in John 10:12-13 ~ “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.”Many ministries and “pastors” in our days are like this – they don’t care for their flock, or others, and they try to entice and solicit these people for their own interest and well-being.

The problem with Jesus’ audience was that they did not understand the figurative saying. They understood the nature of shepherding, but they failedto grasp the spiritual point Jesus was making. Theywere therefore prone to heresy and enticement.

  • THE TRUE DOOR (10:7-10):

Because the people did not understand what Jesus was saying, He used a new illustration. He was no longer speaking about the door of the sheepfold, as in vs.2. Now He was presenting Himself as the door of the sheep. It was no longer a question of entering the sheepfold of Israel, but rather the picture was of the elect sheep of Israel coming out of Judaism and coming to Christ, the Door. He was the way out of dead religion and into life. A door divides, secures, opens, gives access. Jesus is the door – the door of grace.

If a man wishes to enter where God is, he must enter through the Door (i.e. Christ Jesus). A man enters God’s sheepfold only through the Door of Christ, for Christ is the only Door into God’s presence ~ “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me’”(John 14:6).

The proof that Jesus is the only Door and that all others are false doors, are the sheep themselves. The sheep do not hear the voices of “false doors,”not if they are the real sheep of the Shepherd. The real sheep of God know the Shepherd’s voice and have the ability to discern it. If they hear the voice of a false shepherd, they know that he and his sheepfold are false. His voice and message is not the voice and message of the “True Door,”the Son of God Himself.

We must take 10:10 very seriously, because the thief only comes to “kill, destroy and steal.”He is a liar and he gives you what you think you need, but the price you pay is your soul! He does not love you, he does not want to protect you and he does not want you to enjoy eternal life. Jesus came to give you life and according to 10:10 to have life abundantly! This abundant life that Jesus refers to in 10:10, has nothing to do with health and wealth, but it has everything to do with the eternal life that Jesus gives. He gives this life in ever-growing abundance to His redeemed.

  • CONCLUSION & APPLICATION:

In the context of this 4th“I AM” statement, Jesus is telling us that He is not only the shepherd of the sheep, but also the door of the sheep. When Jesus says, “I am the door,”He is reiterating the fact that only through Him, salvation is possible.

The cross of Christ is the turning point in life and what you do at that point determines where you spend eternity. Will you pass through the Door into eternal life? Those who believe on Jesus Christ enter into eternal life and enjoy God’s presence for all eternity. Those who reject Him and refuse to pass through His Door go into eternal separation from Him forever in hell.

Your response to Jesus Christ as the Door determines your eternal destiny. Will you walk through that door by faith today and receive His gift of eternal life?

In chapter seventeen, Jesus said that He knows His sheep because they have been given to Him by the Father (17:29). But He not only knows us individually, He knows all about us. He knows that we are sinners and went ahead and died for us on the cross (Rom.5:6-8)~ “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”

There are not many or different doors or ways to God. There is only one Door ~ “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (10:9).

To enter through the door is the same thing as to “eat”Jesus, “drink”Jesus, or to “come”to Jesus. You must believe in Christ or trust in Him personally to be saved. We are not trusting in things to be saved. The Door is a Person, the Lord Jesus Christ. He becomes ours through believing in Him. The only thing necessary is to believe or trust in Jesus Christ. Have you believed or trusted in Him for everlasting life?

The man born blind had nothing; he was a beggar. He was nothing; people pushed him out of the synagogue. But this is the very man Jesus called and he heard His voice and responded. The man whom everyone despised was the man Jesus saved. He passed through the door to eternal life. There is no greater security than this because the sheep are in the care of the Good Shepherd.

On what side of the door are you? If you die today, or if Jesus comes back today, are you IN “the house”? If you are not, you are on the outside, you are risking being on the outside when the door closes.

Jesus has the door open for you, but it will NOTalways be open. The door will close for you when you die or whenever Jesus returns.

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