The Shepherd and the Door
Happy New Year's Eve! As we transition into 2014, we hope this message fills you with peace and comfort for the year ahead.
Do you ever think about John 10:7-9 where Jesus says He is "the door" and "the Good Shepherd"? I think we generally understand the reference to Jesus being "the Good Shepherd," but why would the Lord also call himself "the door"? Seems kind of strange, doesn’t it?
Let's dig into this a little further to see if we can figure out why.
First, it's important to realize that sheep are helpless animals. They spend the entire day grazing, wandering from place to place, never looking up. As a result, they often get lost. They have no homing instinct as other animals do. They are totally incapable of finding their way to their sheepfold (pen) even when it is in plain sight.
By nature, sheep are followers. If the lead sheep steps off a cliff, the others follow. If all this wasn't bad enough, sheep are easily susceptible to injuries and are completely helpless against predators. If a wolf enters the pen, the sheep won't defend themselves. They won't try to run away or spread out. Instead, they huddle together and are easily killed. If sheep fall into moving water, they drown. They fear moving water and won't drink from streams or lakes unless the water is perfectly still.
Since sheep are totally dependent on the shepherd, the shepherd becomes the provider, the guide, the protector, and constant companion of the sheep. So close is the bond between sheep and shepherd, that the sheep follow the mere voice of the shepherd.
In Jesus' day, there were two kinds of sheepfolds or pens. One kind was a public sheepfold found in cities and villages. These were large enough to hold several flocks of sheep. A keeper guarded the door to the pen during the night and admitted the shepherds in the morning. Each shepherd called his sheep, each of whom knew his voice, and led them out to pasture.
The second kind of sheep pen was in the countryside, where the shepherds kept their own flocks at night. This type of sheep pen was nothing more than a rough circle of rocks piled into a wall with a small open space or open doorway. The shepherd would drive the sheep through this opening at nightfall. Since there was no gate or door to close — just an opening — the shepherd would keep the sheep in and wild animals out by placing his body in the opening. He would sleep there, in this case, literally becoming the "door" for the sheep.
Now it becomes clear why Jesus called Himself, the door. He is not only the shepherd of the sheep (us) but also the door to the resting place. He is our guide, protector, provider, constant companion, and savior (eternally) from evil. If we stay under His care and recognize His voice (the spirit of God), we should have no fear in this life or about life eternal. We should be comforted in knowing that He has our back and will never leave us or forsake us as long as we keep Him as our Shepherd and we remain in the flock.