Door and Shepherd

Door and Shepherd — Write Right (1)I’ve read John 10 numerous times over the year and probably have memorized portions of it. Sometimes, though, the words slip across the mind’s surface without being fully acknowledged. Other times, God causes the mind and heart to pause. He shows something new or reminds the person — me — of a truth not thought about for a while.

Such an experience occurred this week during my reading of John 10:1-18. I stopped in wonder that Jesus says he is both the door and the good shepherd. The words mean he not only is salvation but also secures it. He brings me into God’s fold and keeps me safe. I cannot be snatched from his hand (John 10:27-9, NSAB) for the Father has entrusted me to him. Their hands provide safety and security. I can rest in them completely.

Jesus, the Door

Jesus begins John 10 with a discussion of doors and ways of entry. He says some people do not enter by the door but instead climb over a wall or through a window. These people are not shepherds, but robbers. They come only “to steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10, NASB).

The one who enters by the door is a shepherd. To him, “the doorkeeper opens” (John 10:3, NASB). The sheep hear the shepherd’s voice and follow it because they trust it. They know the shepherd; they do not know the robbers. The robbers are strangers—scary, dangerous, and wishing to harm the sheep.

Jesus then says he is the door, which suggests that God is the doorkeeper, the author of salvation. Salvation originates with God, and Jesus is the way to receive God’s salvation, the security and safety of the sheepfold. In John 14:6, Jesus declares the point outright. He says, “I am the way and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6, NASB).

Door and Shepherd — Write Right (2)Jesus, the Shepherd

However, Jesus isn’t merely the door. He also is the one who enters through that door, and, because he is God’s son, he is not a temporary, human shepherd but the eternal, good shepherd. He speaks, and God’s sheep recognize Jesus’ voice. They hear God’s words made flesh. Their hearts quicken, and they trust in Jesus’ words.

Jesus’ role as the shepherd, though, does not cease once he calls to the sheep. It continues throughout the sheep’s lives. He says hired hands will abandon the sheep when danger arises, but he never will for he is the shepherd. He stays with the sheep in every circumstance because he is intimately concerned about the sheep and their welfare.

Jesus shares that that concern translates into a willingness to give up his life for the sheep. Jesus remains active in the decision; he isn’t forced to die. No, he consciously submits to God’s will — another kind of door — and surrenders his life. He lays it down on his own authority and initiative (John 10:17-8, NASB) so that he can take it up again.

Jesus, the Marvelous One

The more I contemplate the first eighteen verses of John 10, the more I find to marvel at. I see God’s choosing of the sheep, an allusion to election. I discover references to Jesus’ simultaneous divinity and humanity. Other verses come to mind, too, in no small part due to my weekly reading. I turn to Psalm 23, a description of the one shepherd who leads, protects, comforts, sustains, disciplines, and provides for his sheep.

I flip, too, to 1 Peter 2. There, Peter describes Jesus as the “Shepherd and Guardian” of my soul (1 Peter 2:18-25, NASB). Oh, oh. Jesus is the door and the shepherd. More than that, he is the door and shepherd of my soul.

From my journal:

Thank You, Jesus, for guarding and tending for my soul. Thank You for bringing me into Your fold and for correcting my soul when I’m wrong and going the wrong way. You are my shepherd; I shall not want.

Images: fotologic, Travel 2 Palestine (Creative Commons)