I love being surprised by a plot twist. Someone telling a story or joke and it takes a different turn than you might think it was going! The gospel of John records a twist like this in the tenth chapter.
In the previous chapter Jesus had just healed a blind man in Jerusalem and the religious leaders had questioned the healed man. Not wanting to accept his answers they cast him out of the synagogue. Now Jesus is addressing the blind man as well as others who are listening in. The Pharisees get upset at some of the comments Jesus is making. Jesus ends up saying,
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” John 10:1-5 ESV
While reading this passage my mind is racing ahead thinking about how Jesus is trying to get them to understand that he is the Shephard to listen to. He is comparing the Pharisees to the thieves and robbers, but HE IS THE GOOD SHEPHERD! Good one Jesus!
So when I keep reading in this story and get to verse seven I love the plot twist.
“So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” John 10:7 ESV
Jesus doesn’t come out explaining to be the good shepherd (right away). He says I AM THE DOOR! Others claiming to grant access to God are not the door but robbers and thieves. In verse 11 He talks about how others have come to kill, steal and destroy. Jesus, however, was coming so people could have life and have it abundantly!
What does he mean by abundantly? I think if we take a closer look at verse nine we can see just how much he meant!
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9
Jesus again proclaims, “I AM THE DOOR”, but then says something very important! He uses the word, “IF.” Jesus is clarifying for us that just knowing he is the door is not enough. Just hearing about a door named Jesus is not good enough. He says, IF YOU ENTER BY ME you will get three things.
First he says, “YOU WILL BE SAVED.” This lines up with all that the Bible teaches about Jesus. Some examples elsewhere would be:
-Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6 ESV
-“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV
-“everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” Romans 10:13 ESV
Jesus doesn’t just say you will be saved in John 10:9. He says “you will be saved AND will go in and out.” What’s the big deal about this? The phrase go in and out is a very specific phrase coming out of the Old Testament. The psalmist writes, “The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.” Ps 121:8
In the book of Numbers Moses writes about Joshua, the leader that would follow after him.
“Let the Lord, the God of the spirits of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation who shall go out before them and come in before them, who shall lead them out and bring them in, that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” So the Lord said to Moses, “Take Joshua the son of Nun, a man in whom is the Spirit, and lay your hand on him.” Numbers 27:16–18 ESV
The phrase in John 10:9 points back to Moses, who God used to bring the law of God to His people and lead them out of Egypt. Appointing a man named Joshua to lead the people into the promised land is a huge thing. Especially when Jesus’ name in Hebrew is Yeshuah which is JOSHUA! Jesus was laying it on THICK.
“I AM THE DOOR and IF you enter by me you will BE SAVED and GO IN AND OUT and FIND PASTURE.”
As soon as I read “find pasture” my mind went to Psalms 23 where David writes about God being a shepherd who makes me lay down in green pastures. So Jesus is pointing to the fact that he is the same as Moses spoke of in Numbers as well as the one King David spoke of in Psalms.
I think that Jesus was also pointing himself out as the one whom Ezekiel was speaking about in chapter 34.
12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock when he is among his sheep that have been scattered, so will I seek out my sheep, and I will rescue them from all places where they have been scattered on a day of clouds and thick darkness And I will bring them out from the peoples and gather them from the countries, and will bring them into their own land. And I will feed them on the mountains of Israel, by the ravines, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them with good pasture, and on the mountain heights of Israel shall be their grazing land. There they shall lie down in good grazing land, and on rich pasture they shall feed on the mountains of Israel. I myself will be the shepherd of my sheep, and I myself will make them lie down, declares the Lord God. Ezekiel 34:12–15 ESV
In a passage I thought was going to only be about Jesus being the shepherd, he taught that HE is the only door that offers salvation, He is the chosen Leadership from God, and the one who will find us a place to pasture and rest.
What doors have you been taking to find hope, security, direction, peace, rest or salvation? Jesus boldly proclaimed he is the door that offers it IF you will enter it. I pray you would consider entering it!
Rev. Matthew Bishop is pastor of Maynard Baptist Church, 1195 Juliette Road, Forsyth. The Pastor’s Corner is sponsored by the Monroe County Ministerial Association, which meets on the second Thursday of each month at 9 a.m. at Christ United Methodist Church, 417 N. Frontage Road, Forsyth.