Dear Radio Listeners,
Today we bring to you the gospel of Jesus Christ as it is contained in the third “I am” statement which He made and which is recorded in the gospel of John.
So far in our series of these I Am’s we have seen that Jesus is the bread of life and that He is the light of the world. The next two “I am” statements of Jesus are found in this beautiful tenth chapter of John and they are very closely related. They are the truth that Jesus is the door of the sheep and that He is the good shepherd who gives His life for the sheep.
Today we want to focus on the first of those, the fact that Jesus is the door of the sheep. We read in John 10:7-10, “Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”
While Jesus spoke this allegory for the peace and comfort of His disciples, He also spoke it to expose false shepherds and false sheep who were even in His audience. There were wolves and goats at that time, too, who were pretending to be shepherds and sheep. Jesus wanted them to know that He knew who they really were. And He wanted His true shepherds and sheep to know it too. So when Jesus explains to His disciples, in the first place, that He is the door of the sheep, He does so by way of contrast. In our text, as well as in the context, He speaks of thieves and robbers. In the life of a shepherd and his sheep there were always such sheep-stealers to deal with. These people had no love for their sheep, no care for them. They only came to harm the sheep. For this reason they did not enter the sheepfold through the gate. They climbed in some other way.
Jesus takes this earthly reality and applies it to what goes on in the church in her visible manifestation on earth. Applying it, first of all, to His own time, Jesus refers to the fact that the religious leaders of His day were spiritual thieves and robbers of God’s true people as sheep. They were not really interested in them. They did not really care for them. They really only sought to kill God’s sheep. The proof of that is that they themselves did not enter the sheepfold through the door. And they did not teach the sheep to go through the door.
Applying this principle spiritually, this means that they did not believe in Christ the door, and they did not enter the kingdom through Christ. They did not teach the people to enter the kingdom only through Christ. They had another way into the church and kingdom of God-the way of works, the way of self-righteousness, the way of human merit. That is how they tried to steal the sheep of God too. Jesus wanted it known that they could not be saved in this way. Neither could those who would follow these false shepherds. There is no entrance into the sheepfold of God in this way of works. Jesus is teaching here that there is no salvation in man’s righteousness. There is only one way into the church, only one way of salvation. And that was Himself. He is the door, the only door of the sheep.
Secondly, Jesus means to teach us that such thieves and robbers are always present in the church in its outward form. There are always false teachers who do not enter the sheepfold through Christ, the door, and who do not point the sheep to this only true door into the sheepfold. With their false doctrines they try to climb up some other way into the church and try to achieve salvation. It might be the works of the law-like the Pharisees. It might be free will-like so many today. It might be tradition: My parents are believers and go to church-like so many in Protestantism today. It might be the door of politics and socialism-like much of liberalism today. Whatever the case may be, Jesus says that these people are thieves and robbers because they reject the only door into the sheepfold. They do not want Christ for themselves and they do not want Christ for the sheep. In so doing they steal souls and lives in order to destroy them.
We have to know this, too, for our own good. There is no entrance into the sheepfold through these false shepherds and teachers. There is no salvation to be found in the denial of Christ and salvation by grace alone. There is no salvation to be found in the denial of His Word of truth, in any doctrine of holy Scripture. False teachers are thieves and robbers who steal our souls and try to kill us. Do we know that?
In contrast to these thieves and robbers is Jesus Christ. He is the door of the sheep. Yes, He is also the Good Shepherd who Himself enters the sheepfold by the door because He loves the sheep and seeks their welfare. But the point in our text is that Jesus is Himself the door. He is the gate that opens into the sheepfold of the church. He is the door that opens to salvation and life. Only when we enter through Him are we saved.
This is just another way of saying that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation, the only way into the kingdom of God, the only way to the Father. Yes, Jesus is the only door. He is an exclusive door. And, you will notice, He is a particular door. He is the door of the sheep, not the door of the goats. He is the door only for the elect given Him of the Father.
Why is this? Why is Jesus the only door of the sheep, the only gate into the sheepfold? Why is He the only way of salvation?
First of all, because He is God in the flesh. Remember that all of these I am’s declare Jesus to be divine-very God of very God. John, especially, records in his gospel that truth that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God, eternally and naturally. This “I am” statement also reveals this about Jesus. When Jesus says, “I am the door of the sheep,” He declares Himself to be the great “I AM,” Jehovah. And remember, listeners, that this is just what we need for a door or a gate. It is God who must serve as the only access to the sheepfold of salvation. Man cannot be that door. No man can be our entrance into the flock of God. No mere man can be the gate of salvation. God must be. And here, in the name of Jesus Christ, He is revealed to be such for us.
So, too, Jesus is the only door of the sheep precisely because He alone is God in the flesh, God become man to save us men. This Jesus is not a mere man, but neither is He only God. He is God come down to take on our human nature, God come down to be the mediator, to bring God and man together by bearing man’s sin and dying on the cross. For only in that way of reconciliation, by atonement on the cross, is there a door for us into the sheepfold of God. That is the only way of salvation. And it is as such that Jesus points us to Himself in this word, “I am the door of the sheep.”
Do you know Him to be that door?
The fact that Jesus is the door of the sheep also reveals that He does actually save the sheep by causing them to enter into the only door of the sheepfold. Verse 9 speaks to this salvation of the sheep: “By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” You will notice that the text does this from the viewpoint of the sinner and his duty and, thus, it does so by way of a conditional clause. But that “any man” phrase does not mean that any and every man is able to enter the gate called “Jesus.” Nor does it mean that the door of salvation is a possibility for any and every one. That is the lie of Arminianism. A salvation dependent on the sinner means no salvation. And a salvation which is a possibility for all is a salvation, in reality, for none. No, we must understand our text to mean that Jesus is the door that saves, that causes sinners to enter into the gate of the sheepfold and find salvation.
Notice that our text speaks of the certainty of that salvation. “By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” Again, notice that Jesus is not the door for all men, but only for the sheep-those given Him of the Father in eternal election.
Yet these sheep are viewed here not just from the viewpoint of their election. They are also viewed here from the perspective of their need of salvation-their natural, sinful state. These sheep are sinners, sinners who do not, by nature, belong to the sheepfold as it is manifested on earth. These sheep need to enter by the door because they are, by nature, on the outside of salvation and on the outside of the kingdom of God. As such, they are without safety and security. They are exposed to every spiritual danger. God’s people, of themselves, are without food and water. They are wasted and wasting away. They are as walking dead.
But for them Jesus is the door. That means that Jesus sees to it that His people are brought to salvation. You see, the Father’s electing grace is also effective grace. That salvation is made plain in our text. Again, notice that Jesus says, “By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved.” The very door by which elect sinners must enter in order to be saved is the door that causes them to enter in in the first place. Jesus is a complete Savior. That means that He sees to every aspect of our deliverance from sin. So where there are sheep of His lying on the outside of the church of God unable and unwilling to enter the door, He leads them in by the sovereign operations of His Spirit. That is how He shows that He is the good shepherd of the sheep too. He cares for them, He loves them. And so He works regeneration in them so that they enter the door and become part of the flock of the church.
As the context reveals, this saving work of the door of the sheep includes the saving calling. In verses 3 and 4 of John 10 Jesus says, “To him (that is, to the shepherd) the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice; and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” The sheep hear Jesus’ voice in the preaching of the gospel and they follow Him. That refers, of course, to their initial salvation and the first time they hear His voice and come to Him. But that is also an ongoing activity in the life of God’s sheep. Continuously Jesus calls to them and leads them.
That is why our text goes on to speak of the salvation of the sheep in terms of “going in and out and finding pasture.” A door, as you know, leads both in and out. So it is with the gate of the sheepfold. The gate was opened at night to let the sheep into the fold. There they could find rest and peace and safety, they were secure. But in the morning the shepherds would open the gates and let the sheep out for pasture, for feeding.
So it is spiritually with Jesus, the door of the sheep. He opens to bring His people into the fold of the church where there is peace and safety and security. But He also opens that door to feed us; not on the outside of the church, but in the church and through the church and her means of grace. Christ opens the door to give us the rich food of His Word so that we are nourished and made strong, so that we continue to grow into mature sheep of His.
So, finally, our text speaks of the salvation Jesus, the door, gives His sheep, when it says in verse 10: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” We have found this element of life, even everlasting life, in the other “I am” statements of Jesus too. Here it is again. But notice the contrast here. The false shepherds come to the fold to kill the sheep. But Jesus came to give His people life. That is what He suffered and died for-to obtain that for them. And that is what He imparts to them when He causes them to be born again. That life that Jesus makes His people have, He makes them have abundantly. It is not meager life, not bare existence. It is life with God. It is fellowship with the living Jehovah. It is not mere earthly life and being. It is heavenly life. Nor is it mere temporal life, but eternal life. And it increases as life goes on, becoming ever richer until it ends in glory. The gate of the heavenly sheepfold opens to all the sheep of God.
The truth that Jesus is the door of the sheep comes now with a serious responsibility. That is, according to John 10:9, we must enter this door. That is just another way of saying that we must believe in Christ. That is how sinners enter the sheepfold. It is true that no one is able to enter the door by himself. The sheep enter by regeneration, therefore, when they are entirely passive. But the text is viewing the sheep from the viewpoint of their conscious activity when the grace of God is at work in them. Then they enter the sheepfold by the door of Christ. They believe on Christ, and consciously find and appropriate salvation and food and life. They consciously go in and out to find pasture. Living in and out of Christ, they must always be seeking and finding food for their souls.
Are you entering by the door? Are you going in and out to feed on Jesus Christ, on His Word, on the truth of the gospel, dear listener? You must know, as Jesus says here, that by Him, if any man enters in, he shall be saved. But the opposite is also true. If we do not enter in by way of Christ, if we do not go through the door into the kingdom of God, then we cannot be saved, we cannot find spiritual food, we cannot find safety and security in the midst of this world. Only in Christ, the door, is this to be found.
That makes this entering in by the door of the sheepfold serious business-serious because it is a matter of salvation itself, a matter of eternal life or eternal death. This is also serious because, as Jesus has taught us here, there are thieves and robbers to contend with. There are those who will not enter in by the door and who will not show us the door. But the true gospel of Jesus Christ, revealed in the Scriptures, shows us that door. And, hearing that Word that He has given us today, this third “I am,” I am the door of the sheep, we must believe! We must enter in only by Him.
May God give us grace to be diligent to know the door and to enter always and only through Him. Then we shall be saved, certainly and securely. We shall be saved eternally.
Let us pray together.
Heavenly Father, we offer Thee our humble thanks again for giving us Thy word of truth, even the gospel of salvation as it comes to us in this “I am” statement of Jesus. We thank Thee that He not only is the bread of life to us, that He is not only the light of the world, but that He is also the door of the sheep. We know that we cannot enter the kingdom and church of God in any other way than through Him. We know that we cannot have salvation without going through this door. Lead us through it and cause us again and again to go in and out and find pasture through Him so that our souls might be continually fed and we may be nurtured unto everlasting life. In His name we pray, Amen.