Bible Study Commentary on Jesus the Great I AM
I AM the Door of salvation - The call to experience true life
by I Gordon
So far in the I AM series we have looked at 'I am the bread of life' and 'I am the light of the world'. These are both essentials for life I'm sure you would agree. Today we have 'I AM... (drum roll)... the door'! Yeah... the door! Ok, alright. Sorry, thought it needed a little hyping up. 'The door' just by itself didn't quite sound like it was in the same category as the light of the world or the bread of life. But when we add in the extras and find it is the 'door of salvation' - well, now you're talking! Let me tell you this is no ordinary door we're discussing today. The passage today is from John 10 and it comes straight after the healing of the blind man that we mentioned in the last study on the light of the world. We will look at it in two parts:
- Part 1: John 10:1-6 - Calling His sheep out of their current sheepfold
- Part 2: John 10:7-10 - Calling His sheep into new life in Him
John 10 Context
John 10:1 (NASB) "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.
In any passage it is important to have a look at the context so we know who is speaking and who they are speaking to. The passage starts off with 'truly, truly I say to you...' So it is obviously Jesus that is speaking but who is He speaking to? The people that did the chapter breaks decided to put one after 9:41 but Jesus is still speaking to the same people - the Pharisees that hated Him and did all they could to oppose Him. Jesus has just healed a man born blind - this was the third miracle that the ancient Rabbis said only the Messiah would be able to do. So the Pharisees, the orthodox religious leaders of the day, were really excited and wondering if this is actually the long awaited Messiah right? Argh, no... ba-bong. It was quite the opposite. They saw Jesus as a threat to their power and control and just wanted Jesus gone - in any way possible. They hated the fact that this man born blind was now healed by Jesus. They hated it. What a great testimony of what religion, and not a true relationship with God, can do to a man! They actually threw this once blind man out of the synagogue. Have a look at the last part of the story:
John 9:26-41 Then they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?" (27) He answered, "I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?" (28) Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses! (29) We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from." (30) The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. (31) We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. (32) Nobody has ever heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. (33) If this man were not from God, he could do nothing." (34) To this they replied, "You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out. (35) Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?" (36) Who is he, sir? the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him." (37) Jesus said, "You have now seen him; in fact, he is the one speaking with you." (38) Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him. (39) Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind." (40) Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?" (41) Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin; but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.
So this once blind man was thrown out of the Synagogue for testifying that Jesus had healed him (and for giving the Pharisees a little bit of lip in the process!) but Jesus finds him and calls this man to Himself. That is the background to John 10 and is also the theme that Jesus will continue as he speaks to the Pharisees. It's not till verse 9 where Jesus says He is the door but let's first read and consider the opening verses of the chapter where Jesus is calling His true sheep out of false religion.
Part 1: Leading out of the old sheepfold..
John 10:1-6 I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. (2) The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. (3) The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. (4) When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. (5) But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger's voice." (6) Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
So straight away we know we are on 1st century, Middle Eastern rural ground here... which is not always easy for 21st Century Western white-boy city slicker! But we need to know what is going on if we are going to understand what Jesus was saying. So we've got a shepherd, some sheep, a sheepfold, a door keeper and thieves and robbers. A picture may help our understanding of what this is all about. An artists rendition can be seen to the right.
In Israel they would use a sheep fold at night that would be used to protect the sheep. It would have one door that was protected by a door keeper. He would ensure that no one unauthorised would slip in and harm the sheep. And there were many robbers and thieves that liked their chances and would try that very thing! In the morning the shepherd would arrive, come through the door, vetted by the door keeper and would call his sheep. And an amazing thing happened. The sheepfold could contain many different flocks owned by many different shepherds but the sheep, though a little dumb, still had enough smarts to know the voice of their own shepherd and only those sheep would come out and meet their shepherd and journey out with him into the day. On the other hand, were the thieves and robbers. They wouldn't come through the door or the door keeper but would try come over the top of the sheepfold or force their way in. And they certainly didn't care for the sheep. They only cared for lining their own pockets. So who are the players here?
Sheep - an easy one. That's God's people. Sheep are defenceless and dumb. Yep, guilty as charged.
Shepherd - That is another easy one. That is the Lord Jesus.
Sheepfold - At the time it represented the nation of Israel and Judaism, out of whom the Shepherd was calling His own sheep.
The door - In this context the door represents the God-sanctioned right of entry. The true Shepherd had to come through the door and that is exactly what Jesus did. The coming of the true Shepherd had been spoken and recorded throughout the prophets.
The doorkeeper - Likely a reference to the Holy Spirit who the Shepherd worked with to call out and protect His sheep.
The thieves - In its context it was the false religious leaders that Jesus was speaking to. Not only did they not protect and feed the sheep as the true shepherd does, but they robbed them. Speaking to the Pharisees, Jesus was essentially saying 'You are thieves, you are robbing the sheep. You didn't come through the door. God didn't call you and you care not for the sheep. I have come and entered through the door in accordance with the prophetic scriptures and the will of God. I will call forth my sheep from this fold and they will hear my voice and they will follow me and I will lead them out. '
Thieves: Do God's sheep get robbed today? Do we have robbers and thieves posing as religious leaders today? Do we rob ourselves of what we may have in Christ? Yes to all of those. Many of God's sheep are led to follow the thoughts of men, often greedy men, away from the truth and the true Shepherd. Jan Markell of Olive Tree Ministries often says that one of the most frequently asked questions that she gets is 'where can I find a good church?' And it's a sad indictment on the state of the church that it is often a very hard question to answer! But it is not just the sheep getting robbed. So does the Shepherd, Jesus, when we are led or go astray. He saved us, for us - to fellowship with us. We are owned by Him. Beware of that which robs Him of His inheritance in you!
'He calls them by name': Amazing thing! The Middle Eastern shepherds knew their sheep by name. Now I don't know what type of names these were. Not sure if it was 'Moses, no, hey, no, stop it, you leave Zechariah alone' or maybe it was more like 'hey Curly, listen Curly, you don't do that to Portly!' I'm not sure. But the awesome thing is that each sheep was named, each was known, each was cared for. The shepherd knew them all inside out, had a relationship with them and called them by name.1
'He leads them out': He is the good Shepherd who still leads us out - so what error is robbing you of true life in Him? Some are called out of false churches. Some are called out of New Age or sinful practices. In all our many errors and places of bondage Jesus desires to be our wonderful Shepherd who leads us out if we would listen for His voice.2
'They will never follow a stranger' : That is true of us who know the Shepherd and His voice but Christians who aren't in a good relationship with the Lord can and do follow the wrong voice. The following illustration from DL Moody is worth considering here:
'An Eastern shepherd was once telling a gentleman that his sheep knew his voice and that no stranger could deceive them. The gentleman thought he would like to put the statement to the test. So he put on the shepherd's frock and turban, and took his staff, and went to the flock. He disguised his voice, and tried to speak as much like the shepherd as he could; but he could not get a single sheep in the flock to follow him. He asked the shepherd if his sheep never followed a stranger. He was obliged to admit that if a sheep got sickly it would follow anyone. So it is with a good many professed Christians: when they get sickly and weak in the faith, they will follow any teacher that comes along; but when the soul is in health, a man will not be carried away by errors and heresies. He will know whether the "voice" speaks the truth or not. He can soon tell that, if he is really in communion with God. When God sends a true messenger, his words will find a ready response in the Christian heart.'
Part 2: Jesus calls us to Himself
Now the Pharisees and the others listening didn't understand a word of this. Verse 6 says 'Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.' Hopefully we do! He then gave another metaphor picture to show what He was calling them to.
John 10:7-10 So Jesus said to them again, "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 hear them. (9) "I am the door; if anyone enters through 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.
Previously Jesus, as the Shepherd, came through the door, by the will of God, to lead His sheep out of their sheepfold (which at the time was Judaism). Now He is speaking of what He will lead them into and that is salvation in Him. Notice how the metaphor changes a little. Previously He was the shepherd calling the sheep out. Now He says 'I tell you the truth, I am the door - anyone who enter through Me will be saved!' So let's just look at what it means that Jesus is the door and some of the benefits of coming through that door.
There is only ONE door
Firstly note the exclusivity of Jesus' statement. Jesus didn't say this: 'I am a door. But there are lots of doors. Someone might find one door, you might have a different door. Whatever works for you. It matters not really what door you have, just go with the door that feels right for you.' Oprah Winfrey might talk like that. Jesus Christ certainly didn't. Jesus also didn't say 'I am the door of salvation at the moment, but other doors are coming that people can enter through. In the end all doors lead to salvation and the same place.' Rob Bell may think like that. Jesus certainly didn't. Jesus spoke like this: 'Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.' (Matthew 7:13-14)
So note first of all that He is THE door and there is one door. There has only ever been one door. As the scripture says woe to those that go the way of Cain, or rush into the error of Balaam or perish in the rebellion of Korah. God, right from the fall of Adam, revealed how to come to Him and was specific in how that happens. You don't just make up your own way. He has only ever given one door of salvation. There are pictures of this in the Old Testament. Let's look at two. Firstly what is this?3
This, of course, are pictures of the Ark that has been reconstructed in Kentucky USA. Now Noah's Ark has many levels. It contained lots of animals. It had a few people... but only one door. Everything that wanted to be saved whether it was beast or man, had to come through that one door. God is giving a picture here that there has only ever been ONE door to salvation.
The Tabernacle was the same. There was only one door / entrance and you had to enter in God's prescribed way coming first to the Brazen Altar (sacrifice) before moving on to the bronze laver (cleansing) before entering the Holy Place where there is the light and bread. So God has always been showing mankind that there is only one way, one door, one salvation.
The door means division / separation
- Jesus is the door. A door also speaks of division or separation. From God's point of view everyone in the whole world is on one side of that door or the other. Outside is 'in Adam'. Inside the door is 'in Christ'. There is a simple children's church song that sums this up saying:
One door, and only one
And yet its sides are two,
Inside and outside,
On which side are you?
One Lord, and only one
And yet the ways are two,
Right way and wrong way
on which way are you?
One Book, and only one
Which tells of places two
Good place or bad place
on which place choose you?
So the door speaks of a division. Christians are different. We are not to be like the world. We are called to come out of the world and be separate.
The door means security
A door also speaks of security. We all have a door to our house when we lock to make us feel a little more safe. If Jesus is the door spiritually speaking then you can rest assured that inside is the most secure place in the world. No baddies can break down that door. No thieves can pick the lock and take that inside. Those that are inside are secure and safe! We see this pictured in Noah's ark when all those that followed Noah and boarded the ark (which was only his family) went through the door into the ark and then what happened? Where they going to be safe in that boat? You bet they were safe. The waters would rise, the winds would howl and the seas would roar... but nothing could touch them because we read:
Genesis 7:16 'So those... went in as God had commanded him; and the Lord shut him in.'
I think it was H.A Ironside who said that some think of salvation like God constructing a peg on the outside of the ark that Noah had to stand on and if he could hold on for long enough, through all the waves and storms, then he would be saved. The truth is that God places him and his family in the ark and seals it shut! The ark, as a picture of Christ, was the ONLY secure place on the entire planet and it was God who ensured that it was secure and safe.4
The door will one day be closed
So this thought of God shutting the door is great news for the believer for it speaks of the security of salvation. But it also reminds us of those that do not know the Lord. Today, Christ, as the door of salvation, is open for all who want to come. Whether they be black or white, rich or poor, English or outer Mongolian it matters not. The door is open. All they need is to see their need of salvation and in humility, come to Him who is the door. But the scriptures reveal in a few passages that the day will come when the door is shut, just as it was in Noah's day, and salvation can no longer be found.
Luke 13:24-27 Make every effort to enter through the narrow door, because many, I tell you, will try to enter and will not be able to. (25) Once the owner of the house gets up and closes the door, you will stand outside knocking and pleading, 'Sir, open the door for us.' "But he will answer, 'I don't know you or where you come from.' (26) Then you will say, 'We ate and drank with you, and you taught in our streets.' (27) But he will reply, 'I don't know you or where you come from. Away from me, all you evildoers!'
We need to remember those that do not know the Lord. This is partially what it means I believe when Jesus said: "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.
I used to read that last part and think if Jesus is the door that you enter through for salvation, why would you want to go in and then out again? I don't want to go out! But I believe what it is saying is that having received salvation you will go in for fellowship with the Lord, learning from Him and enjoying the benefits of salvation. But you will also go out to others. It may be sharing what you have learnt with other Christians to encourage and strengthen them. It is definitely going out to those outside of the sheepfold that are the lost sheep. We go in and enjoy the fellowship with the Lord and experience the safety that salvation provides. But growth and pasture is in the experiences we have outside when we share with others what we have seen and found and try to help them.
John 10:10 "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.
So here is the conclusion of the matter. The passage end where it began - with a contrast between the true Shepherd and the robber. Jesus wants to lead people out from that which would rob them, and Him, and lead them into life itself. Beware of that which would rob you whether it is the enemy without, the old nature within, or a combination of the two!
There is a great little picture in Pilgrims Progress where Christian tells Hopeful of a man who came from the city of Sincere. The name of this man was Little-Faith, but he was a good man. He was on his journey to the Celestial City but fell asleep near Dead man's lane, near broad way gate. While asleep he was set upon by three rogues, three brothers called Faint-heart, Mistrust and Guilt. He yelled out 'thieves, thieves' as Mistrust stole his money but Guilt beat him on the head with a club knocking him unconscious. They then stole nearly all his money and may have done more but they heard that Great Grace was coming which scared them off. It was said that Little-Faith was poor, malnourished and had to beg for nearly all of the rest of his journey. And he didn't get over it but was bitter and kept telling people what had happened to him. The thieves didn't steal his certificate that granted him entry into the celestial city but because of the trauma he experienced at the hands of the thieves, Christian says that Little-Faith seemed to almost forget that he possessed the certificate. And on the few occasions when he remembered it and might have been relieved by the thought of still having it, the memory of his loss would rush upon him and swallow up all hope and reason.
John Bunyan is showing us, in picture form, how we can be beaten and robbed on this journey if we have little faith and stray into the wrong areas. And it can, if we let it, impact the rest of our journey. We will be poor spiritually and won't have anything to share with others to help them in their journey. But Jesus came He said, to lead us out from the robbers and the thieves and into life. That is, life with Him. Now note that He didn't say I have come that you might have ease and have it abundantly. Nor did He say that I have come that you might have wealth and happiness and have them overflowing. He said that He had come that we might have life. And that is real life -.His life. It's the life that results from a relationship with the Shepherd and remains right through eternity.
And Jesus is the door to that real life that actually counts.