John 10.7 | “I am the Door of the Sheep”
As with His other “I am” statements, Jesus’ declaration, “I am the door of the sheep,” connects His identity and His mission. He is the door. There is no other door, no other access, and no other port of entry into the kingdom of God. He is the only way to salvation and eternal life.
It is said that every text has a context and what Jesus says in John 10 is no exception. His statement “I am the door,” may have been born in John 10, but it was conceived in John 9 when He healed a man blind from birth (cf. John 9). The healing-miracle proved the truthfulness of Jesus’ earlier declaration, “I am the light of the world.” (cf., John 8.12; 9.5).
The healing of the blind man also stirred up a hornet’s nest of controversy among the religious leaders of the Jews. Apparently, Jesus had the chutzpah to heal the man on the Sabbath! Immediately after being healed the blind man is subjected to rigorous cross-examination by the Pharisees. Frustrated by not hearing the answers they wanted, they cast him out of the synagogue.
There is great irony here. By healing the blind man Jesus returned a lost sheep to the sheepfold of Israel. Yet rather than welcome the return of this lost sheep, the Pharisees rejected him. Good shepherds don’t do that. But thieves and robbers do and by their actions the Pharisees showed themselves to be just that. Conversely, Jesus is revealed as the True Shepherd of Israel. This contrast creates the context for what Jesus says in John 10.1-6. Recognizing the Pharisees failed to “understand what He was saying to them,” Jesus tried a different approach.
“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.” (John 10.7-10)
By prefacing His statement with “Truly, truly, I say to you,” Jesus is telling the Pharisees that what He’s about to say is both important and true. “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.” Jesus repeats Himself for emphasis. As the door of the sheep, Jesus is the only way into the kingdom of God. Jesus is the door to the life beyond this life.
Jesus is the door to a life where grace pays the toll.
Jill and I have friends serving the Lord as missionaries in Latin America. There have been several occasions when, as they traveled by car, they’ve been stopped by bandits who’ve set up unofficial “toll booths” on local highways. The bandits want money, but they’ll take clothing, food, or anything they consider to be valuable—cameras, cell phones, laptop computers, even people.
Long before Jesus came into the world, the Pharisees set up their own toll booths at the border between the City of Man and the City of God. In their desire to maintain the spiritual purity of Israel, they would not let anyone cross this border unless they obeyed the Law to their satisfaction.
When the blind man arrived at the border seeking entry into the City of God, the Pharisees refused to let him in. Rather than rejoice with him on receiving his sight they refused to believe that he’d been blind at all! Their denial regarding the miraculous return of his sight is a denial of the work of God revealed in him. And when the healed man defended Jesus by declaring, “If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing,” the Pharisees proved they were thieves and robbers by casting him out of the synagogue. Instead of welcoming a lost sheep back to the fold, they threw him back to the wolves. What they didn’t realize was that by rejecting the healed man, they also rejected Jesus.
The Pharisees considered themselves to be the shepherds of Israel. Yet when Jesus brought them a lost sheep who’d been healed and restored to health, all they saw was an obvious sinner claiming to be healed by another sinner who had the audacity to perform a miracle on the Sabbath! So then, seeing isn’t believingafter all.
The Pharisees loved the Law so much that it blinded them to the Light of the world. They failed to see how the Law which led them to the border between the City of Man and the City of God, couldn’t help them enter it. The heart of the gospel is that what the Law couldn’t do, Jesus did by fulfilling the Law perfectly. This is why He said, “I am the door.” Jesus is the door to a life where grace pays the toll.
There is no law we can keep, no set of rules we can follow, and no personal code of conduct we can live by that will be enough to pay the toll required to enter the City of God. There is no checklist of good works long enough and no number of charitable deeds great enough to earn us entry into the City of God. The only law-keeper to whom God will grant entry into His presence is His Only begotten Son. The only good works He will honor are those performed by Jesus. The only currency He will accept is the blood of Christ shed at the cross. And to some people that’s offensive. It’s meant to be.
Grace is offensive only to those who refuse to accept it. But for those who do accept it, to those who trust Him, Jesus is the door to a life where grace pays the toll. He is the Door that leads to a new way of life now while also promising to be the Door to the life beyond this life!
Jesus is the door to a life only He can give.
If we look at this text through what Jesus said in John 6.37 and 44, then what happened here makes sense. In John 6.37, Jesus said, “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and whoever comes to Me, I will never cast out,” and in John 6.44, Jesus said, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him.”
The reason the Pharisees rejected Jesus and refused to follow Him is because they were neither given by the Father nor drawn by Him to Jesus. Only people whom the Father gives to Jesus and draws to Jesus—people like the blind man—will trust Jesus and be granted access into the City of God. This being so, it raises some important questions:
How do we know God is drawing us to Jesus?
- When we find ourselves starting to believe Jesus really is who He says He is.
- When we find the teaching of Jesus more and more appealing, so that we are irresistibly drawn to trusting what He says is true.
- When the reasons for following Jesus outnumber the reasons for resisting Him.
- When the life Jesus promises fills us with a more satisfying joy, hope, and peace than anything this world dangles before us.
How do we enter the City of God through Jesus the Door?
- The Father must draw us to Jesus. This He does through the ministry of the Holy Spirit who opens our heart to pay attention to the words of Jesus.
- Those whom the Father gives to Jesus, Jesus will welcome into the City of God, which is another way of saying the sheepfold.
- We enter the City of God through trusting in Jesus as the Door to life beyond this life. (See John 6.35-38) Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10.10) The abundant life does not consist in having perfect health or material prosperity.
The abundant life is learning to abide in Christ; trusting in Him as our Refuge and Strength.
The abundant life is experiencing the peace of Christ which surpasses all understanding.
The abundant life is the joy of knowing we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us.
The abundant life is the soul-satisfying, heart-inspiring, mind-calming, faith-building truth that Christ is our Light and our Salvation; whom shall we fear?
The abundant life is the peace that comes from knowing our Father knows what we need before we ask Him, and still having the privilege of praying, “Our Father, who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name; it’s having the confidence to draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4.15)
Jesus is the only door to the life beyond this life. There is no other Door.
In The Silver Chair (the fourth volume in C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia), a young girl named Jill has entered Narnia for the first time. She is very thirsty. She notices a stream of crystalline clear cold water, perfect for quenching her thirst. But there is a problem. Between her and the stream is the great lion Aslan and he is standing between her and the water (in the series Aslan is a Christ-figure.)
Thirsty but afraid, Jill says to Aslan,
“May I—could I—would you mind going away while I get a drink of water?” The lion answered this only by a look and a very low growl. And as Jill gazed at its motionless bulk, she realized that she might as well have asked the whole mountain to move aside for her convenience. The delicious rippling noise of the stream was driving her nearly frantic.
“Will you promise not to—do anything to me, if I do come?” asked Jill.
“I make no such promise,” said the Lion.
Jill was so thirsty now that, without noticing it, she had come a step nearer.
“Do you eat girls?” she said.
“I have swallowed up girls and boys, women and men, kings and emperors, cities and realms,” said the Lion. It didn’t say this as if it were boasting, nor as if it were sorry, nor as if it were angry. It just said it.
“I daren’t come and drink,” said Jill.
“Then you will die of thirst,” said the Lion.
“Oh, dear!” said Jill, coming another step nearer.
“I don’t suppose I might go and look for another stream then.”
“There is no other stream,” said the Lion.
Jesus is the door to the life beyond this life.
You might go and look for another door.
But there is no other door.
You think about that.