Jesus is the True Shepherd

The people were confused by what Jesus said regarding the Shepherd Parable (Jn. 10:1-5). They understood references to sheep and shepherds but not what it had to do with spiritual matters. In John 10:7-21, Jesus explained to them what He meant by the parable, revealing that He is our True Shepherd..

Back in verses 2-3, Jesus referred to the community sheepfold. After the sheep had entered the pen, the shepherd would lie across the opening of the shelter, acting as the door. In verse 7, Jesus is essentially saying, "I am the door; if any one enters by me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture."

He's claiming to not only be the protector of the sheep but also the means by which sheep find salvation. In G. Campbell Morgan's commentary, he talks about a conversation he had with a shepherd in the Near East. He described seeing the sheepfold.

He asked the shepherd, "That is where you go at night?"
The shepherd said, "Yes. And when the sheep are in there, they are perfectly safe."
Morgan replied, "But there is no door."
The shepherd said, "I am the door."

This shepherd wasn't a Christian. He was an Arab, but he was using the same language Jesus used.

The shepherd continued, "When the light has gone, and all the sheep are inside, I lie in that open space, and no sheep ever goes out, and no wolf comes in unless he crosses my body; I am the door."

So, when Jesus says He is the door of the sheep, He's saying He's the only door. J. C. Ryle points out that no apostle or prophet could make such a claim. Only Jesus the Messiah could legitimately claim, "I am the door." Jesus affirms this in John 14:6: "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me"

When Jesus says He's the only door to the sheep, He's saying there is only one way to the Father and it's through Him. Just like there was only one door to the ark and one door to the tabernacle, Jesus is the one and only door to salvation and entering God's presence.

Paul puts it this way in Ephesians 2:18: "For through him we both (Jew and Greek) have access in one Spirit to the Father." Jesus also explains that anyone else who claims to be the door is a thief. Verse 8 says, "All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them." He wasn't referring to Old Testament prophets but those who preyed on the sheep. I believe Jesus included the Pharisees in this warning. They resembled the false shepherds in Jeremiah 23:1-2, "Woe to the shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture!"

In John 10:9, Jesus states, "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture." Before we believe in Christ, our hearts are "desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9). We're "dead in our trespasses and sin" (Ephesians 2:1). That's why "no one seeks after God" (Romans 3:11).

As such, we are under God's righteous condemnation for our sins. That means, since we're dead, there is nothing we can do to rescue ourselves from God's wrath. God must intervene. That's exactly what He did when He sent His Son into the world. Jesus came to save lost sinners because we cannot save ourselves. When Jesus died on the cross, He bore the full wrath of God on behalf of everyone who believes in Him.

How can anyone enter the door of Christ? Paul says in Romans 10:9, "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." God's wrath will be satisfied, you will be clothed in the righteousness of Christ, and you'll spend eternity in God's presence.

Again, verse 9 says, "I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture." If you put your faith, hope, and trust in Christ, you "will go in and out and find pasture." This is beautiful. It refers back to verse 4, "When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice."

Jesus is saying the only true safety and security anyone can have is through Him. Every pitfall, pressure, and danger, every good and bad thing we walk through … Jesus has gone before us. We have freedom to live without fear or worry because Jesus is absolutely sovereign over everything. Matthew 28:18 states, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me [Jesus]."

When we enter through the door, through Christ, we're saved from God's wrath. Being saved, we have the freedom to go "in and out." We're able to live life without fear or worry, trusting in the sovereignty of Christ. But we'll also experience the pasture, the place of nourishment. It's food for the mind, heart, and soul. This is where we feed on the riches of the Word of God, which is Christ Himself. That's what Jesus means when He said, "I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst." (Jn 6:35)

There is nothing else that could give more hope to lost souls than Jesus promising to forgive our sins, to remove the Father's judgment, to always be with us, to go ahead of us, to give us spiritual nourishment, and to give us eternal life in God's presence. Jesus summarized what He said in verse 10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly."

There are only two ways anyone can live their lives. Pursue the things of this world, which lead to destruction or pursue Christ, who gives life. This world is under the dominion of Satan. He will rob, kill, and destroy your soul. Jesus offers an abundant spiritual life, full of joy, peace, and love.