“I AM THE DOOR”
One of a house’s most important bits of furniture is the door. How many doors in the two halls? 50! Every house has at least one door. We often need other doors: storm doors, fire doors, security doors. My insurance company asked about the car, “Is it safe behind a door?”
The world’s most famous door? 10 Downing St? Or the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, where on 31 October, 1517, Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses? And the most important door in your house? The fridge door, of course!
This is the third “I AM” saying in John’s Gospel. Each saying addresses who Jesus is, and what He can do for a person. Each reduces the Bible’s most profound doctrine to word pictures the ordinary people could understand: bread, light, a door, a shepherd, a bunch of grapes.
What the Lord said in John 10 followed on from the story in John 9 of the healed blind man who was expelled from the religious system of the day, simply because he had decided to follow the Lord Jesus. He was a sheep who needed care, guidance, food, and a Shepherd. This is the background to the presentation of the Lord in chapter 10 as the Door and as the Good Shepherd.
Actually, this passage presents two door pictures. First, there is the door of recognition, by which Christ was recognised and identified as the True Shepherd. He came and He entered into the sheepfold exactly as the Scriptures had predicted (10:1,2). The second door is the door of salvation (10:9)
1. THE DOOR OF RECOGNITION (10:1-6)
The first door in John 10:1,2 pictures Christ.
a) “He that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” (10:2)
“The door” here was the normal entrance door to a sheepfold. When the Lord presented Himself to the nation as the Good Shepherd, He entered through “the door” in fulfilment of the OT Scriptures exactly as prophesied. He was born at the right place, at the right time, and in the right way (of a virgin). He lived in the right place (Nazareth), and did the right signs (miracles).
b) “To him the porter openeth” (10:3)
The “porter,” or watchman, here is John the Baptist. He opened the door by identifying Lord Jesus to the nation as “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (1:29).
c) “The sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name” (10:3)
They recognised Him; He recognised them, and called them by name. We all like to be called by name. Jesus called Zaccheus, Lazarus, Peter, and Mary by name. It was proof of belonging to the Lord’s flock, as He related to each person as a unique individual with a name and a face
In the OT the High Priest carried the names of the tribes on the onyx stones on his shoulders (the place of strength), and on the precious stones of the breastplate over his heart (the place of sympathy). He carried them into the presence of God. How wonderful to know that our High Priest, the Good Shepherd, knows each of His own by name.
d) “He leadeth them out…he goes before them” (10:3,4)
The Palestinian shepherd did not drive his flock with a sheepdog. He led them, and they followed him because they knew him. The Lord still goes before us as our good Shepherd. In every trial, temptation, sorrow He has already gone ahead of us.
e) “The sheep follow him: for they know his voice” (10:4)
The healed blind man of John 9 recognised the voice of the Shepherd, and was now His ardent follower. The false Jewish shepherds so hated the Lord they cast this poor sheep disciple out of the synagogue, all because he wanted the Good Shepherd.
All the above proves He is the right Shepherd – “He that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” (10:2).
THE DOOR OF SALVATION (10:7-9)
“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (10:9).
The eastern shepherd at night time led his sheep into the fold for safety. He himself lay across the opening and thus became “the door.” No prowling animal could get in; no restless sheep could stray off into the night. In the morning he stood aside and called his sheep out, counting and examining them, and then leading them in the way he wanted to go.
What did the Lord mean when He said “I AM the Door”? Few verses present such a succinct summary of the Gospel.
a) “I am the door” – DIVISION
A door divides. It keeps those in in, and those out out. We lock our doors at night to keep the family in and the bad out. He divides between those who are in and those who are out. That’s why the Bible speaks about those who are “in Christ” and those “out of Christ.”
b) “…by me…” – EXCLUSION
Christ is the only Door and entrance. He is the only way to the Father (the Greek here is emphatic). How arrogant, presumptions, and bigoted! There was only one door into the ark and only one door into the Tabernacle. So there is only one door into the presence of the Father.
This exclusive claim by Jesus is stunning. “I am the entry point into heaven. If you want to get there, you need Me to make it!” But what about other well-meaning religions? The Muslims who only know the teachings of Mohammed? Or Hindus who worship more than three billion deities, and thus find it difficult accept Jesus’ claim to be the only pathway to eternal life.
Maybe we have our own ideas as to how we can make it to heaven. “I like to think…” “In my opinion.” “All religions lead to God!” But Jesus says, “You need Me to get in.” “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” “I’m it; I’m the only way in. Forever!” All other options are excluded.
c) “…if any man…” – INVITATION
Here is the wide-open “whosoever” of God’s gospel. Christ is the Saviour for Jew and Gentile alike. But remember, one day, like Noah’s Ark, this door will close. What side of it will you be on?
d) “… enter in…” DECISION
Entering in does not just happens; it demands a decision. To “enter in” means to accept Christ by a single act of faith.
To be saved in the future, you must walk through the door today. It’s not enough to recognize the right door; you must walk through it. It is open to anyone willing to walk through it. Rich or wealthy, sick or healthy.
How do you walk through a door? You see the door and know it is where you want to go. Beyond it is safety forever. Then comes the moment of decision. You decide to enter. You walk. You’re not in until you actually walk through the Door.
No sheep carries on an intellectual debate indefinitely. .” Sheep may be dumb, but even a sheep can make a decision and walk through that door to safety. No sheep says, “Baaah, I don’t believe that Door is real?” “Baaah, maybe there’s nothing behind it after all.” “Baaah, I’ll stand out here until the sun goes down.”
e) “…he shall be saved…” – SALVATION
“Saved” – this much maligned word encompasses all that Christ does for His sheep. It implies they have been saved from some awful fate, and what they have been saved for.
f) “…and shall go in and out…” – LIBERATION
To “go in and out” is a Jewish term indicating freedom, and absence of fear. Sheep in Christ’s sheepfold have:
(i) Security. To “go in” means to find security, something we all desperately need in this troubled and anxious world. Jesus is our security. He is in charge of all things.
(ii) Liberty. To “go out” means to find liberty in new pastures. He is with us, alongside us, and that gives us the liberty to move out into life in any dimension.
g) “…and find pasture” – PROVISION
This tells of the provision made for the nourishment of the sheep. In Psalm 23 the Good Shepherd made the sheep to lie down in green pastures. He gives us all things that pertain unto life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3).
We have just discussed choosing to walk through the door, choosing Jesus, choosing to follow His voice. Think! Have you ever decided to walk through that door? Can you remember such a moment?
One door, and only one, and yet its sides are two
I’m on the inside. On which side are you.
November 28, 1942, in the Coconut Grove, down town Boston, over 500 people were celebrating. The place was packed and the show about to begin. Suddenly a girl rushed across the room screaming, “Fire!” Downstairs, an attendant had struck a match to see how to screw a light bulb into a socket. The flame touched a plastic artificial palm and took alight. Soon it spread wildly.
The people panicked, and fought their way toward the revolving door. Nearby was another door but it was locked. Firemen, breaking down the revolving door found it blocked by the bodies of the dead, six deep. 501 persons died – all because the door was closed.
We, too, live in a world doomed for judgment. The wise will seek the door that leads to salvation and eternal security before the way of escape is removed.
Like the insurance company asked, “Is it safe behind a door?”