7 So Jesus again said to them, “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 listen to them. 9 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.
As we begin to move throughout chapter 10, you will notice that in this discussion Jesus switches between metaphors. He says that He is the Door and the Good Shepherd. So because of this, we don’t want to force ourselves to see this as one big parable or force an allegorical interpretation upon this discussion of metaphors. We want to stick with what is exegetically there. Having said that, I do believe that there is some small allegory here, but I believe it is exegetically founded.
In verse 7 Jesus says “I am the door of the sheep.” Then, in verse 9 Jesus says, “I am the door.” So, the door of the sheep, and the door. Now these are essentially the same thing, yet they are distinct. When Jesus says that He is the “Door of the Sheep” I believe He is referring to the remnant of Israel specifically, because immediately after in verse 8, Jesus continues, saying, “All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.” Well, the history of redemption belonged to Israel. It was through them that the Messiah would come to be the Savior of the World. And Israel’s history is filled with stories of false prophets and false shepherds; but Jesus said that His Sheep, His remnant, did not listen to them. And this history of false shepherds, as we discussed last week, is who Jesus is grouping the Jewish leaders of His day with. They are just like all those false shepherds, the thieves and robbers. And Jesus came to gather His remnant of Israel, the lost sheep of Israel. Then in verse 9 when Jesus says that He is the door, without the qualifier, He is now just referring to Himself as the door of salvation for Jew and Gentile alike; because He immediately then says, “If anyone enter by me, he will be saved…” Emphasis on ‘anyone’ there, extended salvation beyond the lost sheep of Israel.
Now, this is not at all to say that there are two different doors of salvation, or that there are two different peoples of God, or two different ways of salvation. This simply has to do with what Jesus came to do. He came to gather the lost sheep of Israel, and then be a light to the world, and make them one flock, as He says in verse 16, “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.” So understand I am not saying there are two different doors of salvation for Jew and Gentile, I am just saying that here, Jesus is referencing Himself in two different ways: A shepherd to Israel, and a shepherd to the nations, making them one flock with one shepherd. This is just kinda the order of redemptive history, as it says in Romans 1, that the gospel is the power of God unto salvation, to the Jew first and then to the Gentile.
So that’s some of my exegetical understanding behind this, but now let us get to the point of what Jesus is saying here in these verses: and that is that He is the Door. “I am the Door,” Jesus says, “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”
Salvation is in Christ (Union)
A few things about this. Note that Salvation is in Jesus Christ, for Jew and Gentile alike. It is in and through Christ. In union with Him. Salvation is not about getting into the sheepfold any old way. There are thieves and robbers who break in another way than the door. It is about entering into Christ. There are many people who come and go in and out of the visible church, fooling the church, or being deceived who are not united to Christ. Entrance into the true Church is in and through Jesus Christ. There are many people who would like to have all the benefits of salvation without having Christ Himself. But that is not even possible. Jesus Christ Himself is salvation and life, and there is none of those things without Him. All the benefits of Salvation are not things outside of Christ that He gives to us, but rather, all the benefits of Salvations are benefits of being united to Christ. The attitude of the Jewish elites is the attitude of many unbelieving today: they would like salvation, they would like their religiosity and laws, but they would not like to have Jesus Christ. They want to keep all the outward forms of religion without the substance of life Himself. They want all their version of the law, but they do not want to submit to Christ’s commands in humility as the way, the truth, and the life. Thus, they are as thieves and robbers, breaking in, not entering in through the door.
There is a certain tradition of church architecture that, like all classical architecture has fallen on hard times. But there is a certain tradition that churches would have these two big front doors and paint them red. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen big red front doors on a church building. But the point of that tradition was to symbolize the blood of Jesus, and to bring to mind the fact that we enter into the people of God and into salvation in and through the blood of Jesus Christ. That is where we enter in, through the door, through the blood of the Lamb.
Salvation is Exclusive in Christ (the door)
Along these lines, indeed implicit in the fact that salvation is in Jesus Christ, we also note that salvation is exclusive in Christ. He is the door. We all know John 14:6, Jesus says “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the Father but by me.” Salvation is exclusively found in Jesus. There are no other ways. You can’t dig a hole under the fence, or climb the fence, or break the fence down. You must come to Jesus Christ alone. To the Pharisee this is offensive and restrictive, for he must give up his own new laws and his own self-righteousness and leave it all to humbly submit to Jesus Christ. But for the despairing sinner who knows he has no righteousness or hope within himself this is a most glorious gaping wide entrance into life, most undeserved, most grateful for. The way that you view the exclusivity of Christ will tell you a lot about where you stand with Him. Today’s pluralists recoil at the thought of objective exclusivity, for as a cover for their own sins that they don’t want to give up, they want everyone’s “way” to be a right way for them, and everyone deserves heaven. But the one who has come to Christ sees and knows that there is no one righteous and that there is no way unto God except through His Son, and it is the ultimate act of mercy and grace for God to send His Son and create any way at all, for there is no sinner who deserves anything from God. This person is grateful that God has indeed given a way unto salvation, while the other person is made that God has only given one. Which one are you today?
Notice again that Christ says that He is the door, and anyone who enters by Him will be saved. The further point I want to make here is that salvation is entering through Christ the door; it is not jumping through hoops or climbing up a great ladder to heaven. It is entering through Christ, as a door. People like to create all kinds of hoops to jump through and have a great list of all kinds of things you have to do before coming to Christ, but Jesus just says come, enter by me. There are no difficult walls which have to be scaled before the anxious sinner can obtain access to God. Christ is the door into His presence.
“In and out and find pasture” – Salvation is nourishment and provision
Notice as well that those who enter by Christ go in and out and find pasture. Here we ought not to over analyze or allegorize the going in and out, for Jesus is just painting the picture of the sheep being moved and fed to green grass and being properly cared for. The point here is that Salvation is nourishment and provision. Salvation is not a one time decision made for Christ, but it is union with Christ, now, in this life, such that we are continually fed and nourished by our Great Shepherd. He leads us to places of provision. “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” This is the point of this phrase that the sheep go in and out and find pasture: that when Jesus is our shepherd, we shall not want. He makes us lie down in green pastures and leads us beside still waters. Jesus provides for His sheep. And this perfectly leads us into verse 10.
The Purpose of the Thief (to steal, kill, and destroy) (death)
The purpose of the Thief is to steal, kill, and destroy. In other words, his purpose is death. And it has been ever since the beginning when he broke into the garden to tempt the woman. His purpose is death and destruction and to leave us desolate. We absolutely must recognize this. The enemy seeks to utterly destroy us, take everything from us, and bring us death. We cannot play nice with our sin. It must be put to death, or else it will be us put to death. Tolerating a little sin is like tolerating a little cyanide. We should know this about our enemy. He has been doing this since the beginning.
It is important to remember this is the goal and purpose of the thief, because the strategies, appearances, and techniques, do not usually look like they are going to hurt us. Let alone steal from us, destroy us, and kill us. But that is the whole point of a thief. He is a liar and a deceiver. He will often promise good things. The tempter tells us, “do this sin, it will make you feel good, you know you want to, it’s easy to do, no one will know…” But despite what we are tempted to believe in those moments, they are lies, for sin always brings death, and takes from us, that is it’s goal.
I can’t help but think of one Old Testament type of the thief and robber; and that is David’s son, Absalom. Long story short Absalom was assembling a coupe against his father, but he spent time endearing himself to the people, because the people loved David. In the narrative it tells us that Absalom stole the hearts of the people. He stole their hearts. That’s what thief does – he seeks to steal. And of course Absalom was killed and the rebellion did not succeed. But that’s the way the thief works. Absalom was handsome, he looked good, what he said sounded good, but he only stole and delivered death and destruction for those who followed after him.
The Purpose of Christ (abundant life)
But to the contrary, the purpose of Christ is to give life, and life abundantly. The enemy purposes evil, God purposes good, and He works unto that end. In chapter 5, the Pharisees weren’t happy that a lame man was healed, and they weren’t happy in chapter 9 that the blind man was healed. They didn’t like that Jesus brought them new and abundant life, for their purposes was to steal and destroy. But Christ came to do the works of He who sent Him and that is to give abundant life.
What is abundant life?
Now, abundant life is a term we hear used and misused quite often. It is often abused by prosperity gospel preachers who use this verse to claim that Jesus promises material blessings and no suffering to anyone who has enough faith. But it’s funny how for them, your faith is always displayed in how much money you give to their ministry. This scam religion is of course not at all what Jesus was talking about.
The primary intent of what Jesus means is eternal life. That’s what abundant life means. He came that we may have life and have it eternally. But we must also note that this is not merely some thing in the future that we receive when we die. We have talked about in other places that eternal life is always referred to as a present possession of the Christian. It is something a Christian has possession of now in this life. John says in 1 John, “I have written these things so that you may know that you have eternal life.” Eternal life is something we presently have in Christ, it begins when we come to Him, entering by the door.
We must also note that eternal life does not just denote the duration of life we receive in Christ. But includes the qualities and benefits of life in Christ. Abundant life is having as our present and eternal possession all the benefits of Christ. Forgiveness of Sins, perfect righteousness, access to God in prayer, His Spirit dwelling within us, power over the demons, and all the promises of the gospel, that all things work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose.
Abundant life is having all of Christ. Whether you are a wealthy man with a hundred grandchildren, or everything and everyone has been taken from you, you can have abundant life; because even if you have nothing, you can have all of Christ, an abundance of Christ, which is everything. Abundant life is not something you can necessarily see with the eyes of the flesh. You must have new eyes of faith. Your whole life may be a life of living paycheck to paycheck, yet, by faith, you do not have a mere existence; you have abundance. You are an heir of the world. You are a priest and a king ruling and reigning with Christ, whether you feel it or not.
If you are a son or a daughter of God, everything you receive is a blessing. Even the sufferings and trials of various kinds are a blessing, because they are working good, glory, and reward for you, making you more like Christ, strengthening the gift of faith in you. This is why James can tell us to count it all joy when you face trials of various kinds. Doug Wilson says that God gives left handed blessings and right handed blessings, but He always gives blessings to His Children. Left handed blessings being hard or difficult providences, right handed blessings being easy providences. Even the discipline we receive is a blessing from God.
You see, in everything, whether in plenty or want, if we are Christ’s and are united to Him and found in Him, we have all of Christ. The poor homeless man on the side of the road who has just received Christ has all the riches of heaven, same as the wealthy Christian doctor. They both have all of Christ, because Christ gives of Himself abundantly to His people. There is not just a little bit of Christ to go around for everyone, but there is an abundance of Christ such that we all get all of Christ. My having all of Christ doesn’t inhibit your having all of Christ.
Christ, who has all things, gives from His abundance. He out-gives the taking of the thief. Christ will never run out of life to give. He is the eternal fountain of life. From His fullness we all receive grace upon grace. He gives more grace. Whatever is lost in this life will be restored a thousand fold in the next. R. L. Dabney, in the funeral sermon that he preached for Stonewall Jackson said that “Resurrection Day will repair all the ravages of the sword.” This is Christ’s purpose, to undo the death brought in at the fall. The life He gives is far greater than the death sin brought. In Christ, we trade in our abundant sin for His abundant life. All that you need to receive abundant life in Christ, abundant sin to give.
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