John 10:1-10

There are 2 “I am” sayings embedded in John 10. Today we’ll tackle “I am the door of the sheep;” and next Sunday we’ll address, “I am the good shepherd.”

But before we read it, it would be helpful to know that in the first century, there were two kinds of sheepfolds. One was the ‘communal sheepfold’ located in the villages and towns. During the winter, shepherds wouldn’t take the sheep very far from the villages and each night they would bring their sheep back into the village and they would enter these communal sheepfolds. It was a place with a strong door, and that door had a doorkeeper. Only the doorkeeper had a key to the door, no one could enter the sheepfold except a shepherd known by the doorkeeper. That’s the kind of fold Jesus was talking about in the first part of the text. 1

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice” (John 10:1-5).

Now, during the warm season, the shepherds would take the sheep out to range for weeks at a time, and at night they would enclose the sheep in folds that were simply walls about 4 feet high that enclosed a space with an open entrance. There was no door to that entrance. Once all the sheep were in the fold, the shepherd himself would lay down across the opening and thus was the door. And for the sheep to enter or depart from the sheepfold, they had to pass over the shepherd’s body. It was that kind of sheepfold Jesus is talking about in this next section where he refers to Himself as the door. 2

“Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, so he explained it to them: ‘I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life’” (John 10:6-10).

Speaking of doors . . . two Jehovah’s Witnesses were going door to door and knocked on the door of a woman who was not happy to see them. She told them in no uncertain terms that she did not want to hear their message and slammed the door in their faces. To her surprise, however, the door did not close and, in fact, bounced back open. She tried again, really put her back into it, slammed the door again with the same result – the door bounced back open. Convinced these people were sticking their foot in the door, she reared back to give it a slam that would teach them a lesson, when one of them said, “Ma’am, before you do that again, you need to move your cat.”

Then there was a guy whose doorbell rang and when he opened the door, his mother-in-law was standing on the porch and said, “Can I stay here for a few days?”
He said, “Sure you can,” and shut the door in her face.

Then again, back in the day when pastors still visited in the homes of parishioners, 
a new pastor knocked on the door but no one came to the door. He wrote Revelation 3:20 on the back of one of his cards and stuck it in the door. The next Sunday, his card was found by a financial secretary in an offering basket. Under his Revelation 3:20, someone from that home wrote Genesis 3:10. He knew that Revelation 3:20 began “Behold, I stand at the door and knock.” But he couldn’t recall Genesis 3:10, so he looked it up and laughed to see that it says, “I heard your voice in the garden and I was afraid, for I was naked.”

I have a disarmingly simple two-point message based upon the purpose of a door. The purpose of a door is to shut something behind you and at the same time open it to something else.

Jesus said, “I am the door.” He invites, encourages, entreats, implores us to shut the door behind us to old lives of sin and guilt and shame and pain. And at the same time open the door to a new life of forgiveness, grace, mercy and love.

Through Christ, we shut the door on the old life of sin, shame, guilt and pain.

That sounds awfully fundamental, doesn’t it? It is! But I don’t know a more desperate need on the part of people today than the need to know that their sins are forgiven, that their guilt and shame can be done away with, that they are accepted, that the door to the past can be shut behind them. But so many people miss out on this blessing because they have deluded themselves into thinking they can hide their sins.

David’s story, as told in II Samuel 11 and 12, serves as a timeless example. He had become involved with another woman and had gone so far as to make sure her husband was killed in battle. Then his wrongdoing began to eat away at him. In Psalm 32 he exclaims, “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat” (3-4). In essence, David is saying, when I kept silent, when I was hiding, when I was keeping it secret, I felt like I was dying inside.

Earlier this week, 19-year-old Sadie Robertson of Duck Dynasty fame posted the following on her Instagram account:

I used to hide things from God in my prayer life. I mainly did because I was afraid; I was afraid I would fail in that area again. I thought maybe I was doing me and God both a favor to just not mention it. But that only created division between myself and my creator. There was something in between us hindering our relationship, because I wouldn’t address the elephant in the room. It’s crazy how when you run from truth you run into so many lies. 3

That’s what David was doing; running from the truth. And I have a hunch that many of us are following in David’s footsteps. We come to worship, sing songs, put money into the offering plate week in and week out, we go through the same routine and nobody knows we’re dying inside. Nobody knows we have these secret sins that are keeping us from moving forward. No one knows about it — but you know about it; God knows about it. So how do we shut the door of guilt and pain?

We must confess our sins.

When Nathan the Prophet exposed David’s sin, it prompted him to confess.

“Finally, I confessed all my sins to you and stopped trying to hide my guilt. I said to myself, ‘I will confess my rebellion to the Lord’” (Psalm 32:5).

Psalm 51 records his actual confession:

Have mercy on me, O God, because of your unfailing love. Because of your great compassion, blot out the stain of my sins. Wash me clean from my guilt . . . Purify me from my sins, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Oh, give me back my joy again; you have broken me—now let me rejoice. Don’t keep looking at my sins. Remove the stain of my guilt. Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a loyal spirit within me” (1-3, 7-10).

What’s it going to take to prompt us to confess?

I read about a guy who had a carpet cleaning business and enjoyed success selling his pet urine removal process. He had a high powered black light and upon smelling pet odor, would ask if the homeowner would like to see the extent of the damage. Being composed of proteins, urine glows under a black light. With the lights out and shades drawn, homeowners would follow him through their house. Usually, there were far more spots of dried urine than the owner expected. Often it could be seen on drapes, the back of the couch, and splattered on walls. The reactions were often dramatic. One lady said, “I don’t care what it costs, just clean it up!” 4

The black light didn’t cause the problem, it only revealed it. The offense was there all the time, causing a bit of a stink, but when the extent of the problem could actually be seen, people couldn’t wait to clean it up!

When we allow the light of God’s word to shine upon our lives, we can see our sins for what they really are. He too is in the cleaning business. By the blood of Christ, our sins can be washed away!

“No one whose hope is in You will ever be put to shame, that’s why my eyes are on You O Lord, surround me defend me, oh how I need You, to You I lift up my soul, to You I lift up my soul.”

Jesus said, “I am the door.” One function of a door is to close something behind us. Until we close behind us the door of guilt and shame, we can’t experience the opening of the door to new life.

That’s our next consideration; we all need to open the door to a new, abundant life.

First, Jesus says, “Those who come in through Me will be saved.” It is the verb for the word ‘salvation’ used 108 times in the New Testament and means ‘to deliver out of danger and into safety used principally of God rescuing believers from the penalty and power of sin.” 4

Not only are persons saved, that is delivered from the danger of sin, but people who open the door to Christ will “go in and out and find pasture.” It’s a beautiful image of being protected and sustained and nourished by God.

A number of years ago, a little girl was standing at the edge of a crowd where her father was sharing with a group of people what Christ had done in his life. He was telling them that he used to drink too much and how that had changed him into an angry bitter person. But that when he heard about the forgiveness Christ he grabbed hold for all he was worth. There was a cynic in the crowd who after a few minutes said, “Why don’t you shut up and sit down, you’re just dreaming.”

When he was finished, he felt a tug on his coat sleeve. He looked down to see that little girl who looked him in the eye and said, “Sir, that’s my daddy you’re talking about, you say he’s a dreamer; well let me tell you about my daddy. My daddy used to come home at night and was angry. And he would yell and scream and sometimes he would beat my mother, and she would cry all through the night. And we didn’t have a lot to eat because my dad spent all his money on whisky. And I didn’t have nice clothes or shoes to school
but look at these shoes and this nice new dress I’m wearing.”

Then pointing across the way, she said, “Do you see that woman smiling over there? That’s my mother, she doesn’t cry through the night anymore, now she sings. Mister, Jesus has changed my daddy and given all of us a new life. If my daddy is dreaming, please don’t wake him up.” 5

The Apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians writes: “If anyone is in Christ, he is a new person, the old life is gone, behold, a new life has begun” (5:17).

Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me he will be saved. He will come in and out and find pasture.” I’ll close the door behind you to past sin and guilt and failure. And I’ll open the door to a brand new life of love, joy, and peace.

“My Jesus, My Savior, Lord there is none like You. All of my days I want to praise the wonders of Your mighty love!”

Jesus is the door! Through Him and Him alone, we come to God. “Through Him,” Paul said to the Ephesians, “we have access to the Father” (2:18). Jesus opens the door to God.

Now, this is what we need to remember. The obvious thing about a door is that it means absolutely nothing unless we use it. Did you get that? A door means absolutely nothing unless we use it. So with The Door, Jesus the Christ.

An atheist was lecturing a group of people on the folly of religious faith in general and the Christian faith in particular. At the close of the presentation, the speaker invited people to ask questions. In the audience was a man (perhaps that’s little girl’s father) who came up front, took out an orange, peeled it, and ate it without comment. The atheist asked if he had a question for him or not. After downing the last segment of orange the Christian turned to the speaker, “Was the orange I just ate sweet or sour?” Angrily, the atheist replied, “You idiot, how do I know whether it was sweet or sour, I never tasted it?” To this, the man in Christ simply replied, “And how can you know anything about Jesus if you have not tried Him?” 6

Jesus said, “Yes, I am the door. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures.”

1 Barclay, William. The Daily Bible Study Series, the Gospel of John, Vol 2. [Philadelphia, The Westminster Press, © 1975] page 58

2 Ibid.



5 Lawson, Steven. Stories for a Faithful Heart. Compiled by Alice Gray.
[Sisters, Oregon, Multnomah Publishers, © 2000] page 120.

6 Hewett, James S. Illustrations Unlimited. [Wheaton, Illinois. Tyndale House Publishers, © 1988] page 145.