By Diane Caston
John 10: 1“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. Vs.3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers. 6 Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.7 Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep”. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. 10 I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”.
Jesus uses a parable or allegory here to illustrate a point. He tells us this in vs. 6 (read) “Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them.”
We are so used to hearing these passages, that we forget what it would be like to hear Jesus speaking in that day. Instead of speaking in purely spiritual terms, Jesus brings things down to their level, trying to explain profound things through simple pastoral illustrations. Remember Jesus was a complete change of thinking to the Jewish people. They were looking for their triumphant King, not a simple rabbi. As a popular song says they were ‘looking for a King they’d never recognize’. He eased into revolutionary thinking with stories or parables to help them see the supernatural plan of God.
1.Enter by the Door
Our first point is entering in by the door
Vs. 1-2 “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. ”
We must enter the sheep fold through the door, or another expression is the narrow gate. There is only one entrance to the kingdom of God, and it’s through the door, Jesus Christ. This is the legitimate way into the sacred enclosure of God’s true people. The price that He paid for our salvation, His death on the cross, taking all of our sins upon Himself, was done by only Him. It could only have been done by Him, seeing He is the only God come in human form.
In the book Pilgrims Progress, John Bunyan tells a story of a man named Christian who leaves the City of Destruction, gets saved and starts on his journey to the Celestial City or Heaven. He makes many acquaintances and has many experiences along the way, each dealing with an area of weakness or triumph we may encounter as we walk through life with Jesus. One of these characters was a man named Ignorance. Ignorance came and joined Christian and Hopeful on the path. His problem was he had not entered in by the narrow gate. Christian pointed this out, but Ignorance thought there was no reason to go back. After all he had his religion; and Christian had his. He comforts himself with thinking that desiring heaven means he will attain it. His heart tells him he’s alright. He has good thoughts. Is that not a good life? He doesn’t believe his heart could ever be bad. His heart tells him he is good. He is justified by his good works. Ignorance walked the whole path behind Christian and Hopeful, and came to the River (the place of crossing from this life to the next). Christian and Hopeful had to wade across and struggle with death to cross and enter the Celestial City. Ignorance crossed over easily being ferried by Vain Glory. They all ascended the hill to the gates of the Celestial City. Christian and Hopeful are joyfully ushered in, but when Ignorance arrived at the gate with no certificate, no proof that he had entered by the door, he was bound hand and foot and thrown through a door in the hill. “Then, said Christian, I saw there was a way to Hell, even from the Gates of Heaven as well as from the City of Destruction.”
Bunyan also uses an allegory to get us to see the vanity of thinking we can make it on our own.
We must be sure that we have not jumped over the wall, come in any other way than by Jesus Christ, the son of God.
The context of these verses in John 10 came from Jesus’ altercation with the Pharisees over the healing of the man born blind. The Pharisees were just the people Jesus was talking about who were trying to enter the Kingdom of God another way. They were leaning on their religious rules and self-righteousness.
Read Jn 9: 1-5.
Jesus healed the man born blind, and because Jesus did not fit their religious paradigm, the Pharisees wouldn’t believe and cast the blind man out of the synagogue for believing in Jesus. Their religious beliefs kept them from seeing and acknowledging the true shepherd of the sheep.
Jesus has a few words to say about these religious leaders.
“Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.” Matt. 23:15
These blind guides, these Pharisees were some of the thieves and robbers Jesus was talking about.
People do this today in not accepting the word of God for salvation. They listen to the feel good preachers, and believe their good works will outweigh the bad, or they like the popular writers who deny there is even a hell.
Is. 56:11 They are dogs with mighty appetites; they never have enough. They are shepherds who lack understanding; they all turn to their own way, they seek their own gain.
Jer. 23:1-4 “Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture!” declares the Lord. Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people: “Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done,” declares the Lord. “I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,” declares the Lord.
The shepherd of the sheep is the one who goes in by the door to the sheepfold. He is the King of His flock, and he cares for them. He is the example for all who look to Him. All false religious systems fail. The key to Christianity is to follow the shepherd and enter the sheepfold. And the only way into the sheepfold is through the door.
2. My Sheep Hear My Voice
Vs.3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
How? How do the sheep hear His voice? By training their ears through the Word of God to know what He would say. He calls to everyone. Not willing that any should perish, but only His sheep hear His voice and follow. Sheep are expert at hearing their Master’s voice. You’re either His, or you’re not. He calls His sheep by name. Do you remember when He called you, and you first heard His voice? He has a personal connection with His sheep. He knows each one of us intimately. He leads his sheep out; He doesn’t drive them.
As I was preparing this study I read an Elizabeth Elliot devotional-
All of the past, I believe, is a part of God's story to each child of His--a mystery of love and sovereignty, written before the foundation of the world, never a hindrance to the task He has designed for us, but rather the very preparation suited to our particular personality's need.
"How can that be?" ask those whose heritage has not been a godly one as mine was, whose lives have not been peaceful. "It is the glory of God to conceal a matter" (Proverbs 25:2, NIV). God conceals much that we do not need to know, yet we do know that He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When does that begin? Does the Shepherd overlook anything that the sheep need?
William Kay, who translated the Psalms in 1870, gives this note on Psalm 73:22: "Though I was supported by Thee and living 'with Thee' as Thy guest, yet I was insensible to Thy presence;--intent only on a small section of the visible course of things;--like the irrational animals that are ever looking down at the ground they are grazing.
"Yet I am perpetually with Thee, Thou hast laid hold on my right hand," wrote the psalmist. "Thou wilt guide me with Thy counsel and afterwards receive me in glory.... And as for me, nearness to God is my good; I have put my trust in the Lord God" (vv. 23, 24, 28, WK).
We are lovingly lead by our Shepherd, even when we don’t understand where He is taking us, it is all part of His plan. Just as the man born blind, who had no idea his life would be used to expose the hypocrisy of the Pharisees and his story would one day be read by millions of people, God knows what He is doing in each of our lives.
They will by no means follow a stranger.
In Matt 24 is the famous chapter about the end times. Jesus gives us warnings and tells us what to expect before He comes. They do not know the voice of the stranger. When we belong to Him we have as one old preacher taught ‘the instinct of divinely taught hearts preserving us from seducers’ . Beware if you find yourself attaching to false teachers, going after strange teaching. Look for discontentment, arrogance, rebellion, bitterness or lack of knowledge in your life. Be on guard.
Turn to Matt 24, read starting at vs. 3-8
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.
Jesus tells us to let no one deceive you, many will come in His name- wars, rumors of wars, famines, pestilences, earthquakes, false prophets who will deceive many.
vs. 23, 24 “Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. Now in The list of indicators that Jesus’ return is near, is noted – 1x time wars, 1x famines, 1x pestilences, 1x earthquakes, but four times He says false prophets.
Do you think He was trying to tell us something important – to warn us? The end of vs. 24 – to deceive if possible even the elect. That’s us ladies.
We must be cautious of everything we listen to, read or watch. Does it line up with scripture? Why should you continue to read when you find lies? People get uptight with this today. They think where’s the harm? Should Eve have continued to listen to the serpent? If it’s untruth, put it away from you. Unless you are doing research, why would you want to listen to the lie?
I’m going to give you an example from a popular book. You would probably all know it. Reading through the book I came to this. A statement suggesting God does evil. God does evil? This is a false representation of our God.
James 1:13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God,” for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.”
Ex.34: 6 “The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, a forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty”
Steve spoke about the judgment of God yesterday, and God’s judgment is just. Evil things happen because of sin in the world, not because God does evil! That’s why I dislike the ‘It’s all good’ expression! It’s not all good, but God can use it all for good.
They do not follow a stranger; they flee from him! They don’t know voice of strangers. Again, how do we know His voice? Every book, message, dream, prophecy, word of knowledge we read or hear, must line up with the word of God, and we need to know His word to know if what we hear lines up with it. Otherwise we can be carried away with false doctrine.
3. I am the Door
Vs. 7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep”.
He and He alone is the way of salvation. He is the opportunity to life, the open way. Again, we must come through Him for salvation. There are many mentions in scripture of the door
Matt 7:7-8 “Ask and it will be given to you. Search and you will find. Knock and the door will be opened for you. The one who asks will always receive; the one who is searching will always find, and the door is opened to the man who knocks.” JB Phillips
Luke 13: 22 And He went through the cities and villages, teaching, and journeying toward Jerusalem. Then one said to Him, “Lord, are there few who are saved?” And He said to them, “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able. When once the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open for us,’ and He will answer and say to you, ‘I do not know you, where you are from,’ then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in Your presence, and You taught in our streets.’ But He will say, ‘I tell you I do not know you, where you are from. Depart from Me, all you workers of iniquity.’
I don’t know about you, but that always makes me stop and think. Make sure you have really entered in.
4. Go in and Come Out and Find Pasture – the Abundant Life
Vs. 9-10 “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly”.
This is the true abundant life – saved by His grace – part of the Kingdom of God – the sheepfold. Going in and coming out with Him.
The times when we fear, are hurt, have trials, or sickness devastates us; we run to the shepherd and the sheep fold for comfort, healing, rest, protection and His special care.
Other times things are good, and we go out and frolic in the fields of the Lord, having a joyful time, telling others about Him, rejoicing! In safety and repose we can go out lie down in green pastures and walk beside the still waters.
Ps. 121 I will lift up my eyes to the hills from where comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to be moved; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord is your keeper; The Lord is your shade at your right hand. The sun shall not strike you by day, or the moon by night. The Lord shall preserve you from all evil; He shall preserve your soul. The Lord shall preserve your going out and your coming in from this time forward, and even forevermore.
John reiterates that the thief comes to steal and destroy! But Jesus comes to give life and give it more abundantly. He didn’t come just to preserve our lives, but to give us a richness of life, so that “Out of our inner most beings would flow rivers of living water.” Wouldn’t it be the best for us to stick to His ways and not go after strange shepherds? To walk the narrow walk and seek all that He has for us. He truly knows each one of us individually and knows what it best for us. Let’s follow Him closely and find out what His best for us is.