In his extended discourse on the Good Shepherd (John 10:1–21), Jesus included two “I am” statements. He said, first, “I am the door” (vv. 7, 9) and then, “I am the good shepherd” (v. 11). These two sayings are closely connected, but it is worthwhile considering each on its own.
The great British pastor and Bible teacher G. Campbell Morgan tells the story of a conversation with Old Testament scholar George Adam Smith. Smith told Morgan the story of travelling in the Middle East with a guide and coming into contact with a shepherd. The shepherd showed them the sheepfold into which he led his sheep at night. The fold consisted of four walls and an opening for the sheep to enter. When the sheep were in the fold, the shepherd said, they were safe.
Smith observed that the opening had no door or gate. When pressed about it, the shepherd, who was not a Christian, replied, “I am the door.” Asked to clarify, he continued, “When the light has gone, and all the sheep are inside, I lie in the open space, and no sheep ever goes out but across my body, and no wolf comes in unless he crosses my body; I am the door.”
In a quite literal sense, the shepherd became the door for the vulnerable sheep at night. He provided all the protection they needed against predators and other threats. Jesus made the same claim when he said, “I am the door of the sheep” (v. 7; cf. v. 9). In the text, Jesus being the door highlights at least three truths.
First, Jesus’ claim to be “the door” highlights his care for his sheep. Unlike thieves and robbers, who do not care for the sheep, Jesus cares deeply for his sheep (vv. 7–8). His heart is for his sheep. He loves them. He sympathises with them. As a Christian, when you feel as though no one in the world cares for you, you can know that Jesus does. He is not a vindictive God who unfeelingly demands your allegiance. He cares for you. He knows what is best for you. He is willing to put himself on the line for your sake.
Second, Jesus’ claim to be “the door” highlights his protection of the sheep. Those who enter by him “will be saved” (v. 9). There is safety—eternal security—in coming to Jesus Christ. Without a shepherd, sheep are defenceless against the predators that would hurt and destroy them. Without the Good Shepherd, we are likewise defenceless in the spiritual war that rages around us. The forces of darkness want to destroy us but if we are safely in the fold, guarded by the Door, we can be sure that we are eternally safe.
Third, Jesus’ claim to be “the door” highlights his provision for the sheep. Those who come to him as their door “will go in and out and find pasture” (v. 9). The door prevents predators from entering and harming the sheep. At the same time, the door provides access to the sheep to find the pasture they need for nourishment. You can find everything you need for your spiritual vitality in the person and work of Christ. You need nothing more than he promises to provide in himself.
Of course, the greatest care, protection, and provision that Jesus provides was displayed in the cross. When the Good Shepherd laid down his life for his sheep, he displayed the greatest care that one person can display for another (John 15:13). When he gave his life for his sheep, he offered them eternal protection against the threat of eternal destruction. Christ’s sheep have no need to fear eternal condemnation because they are secure in him. When he died on the cross, Jesus gave the greatest provision: life. And not only life, but eternal and abundant life. “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly” (v. 10).
Jesus is the door to God’s fold. He is the only door. He cares. He protects. He provides. Will you come to God this morning through Christ? Will you find your security, your protection, and your provision in him? Come to him for abundant life.