Verse of the Day Devotion: John 10:7
“Jesus therefore said to them again, Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” – John 10:7
Over the next few weekdays, we will be looking at seven verses where Jesus declares “I AM”, and then gives a metaphor regarding what He is. Today, we will look at the third of these, “I am the Door.”
In this “I am” statement, Jesus clearly points out the exclusive nature of salvation by saying that He is “the door,” not “a door.” However, He does not stop there. For He adds that He is not only our shepherd who leads us into the sheepfold, but He is the only door by which we may enter and be saved. And as we read earlier in John, He is the only way we have of attaining eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
To get a clear picture of what He is saying, it is helpful to understand some of the history within the culture of the time of Christ, especially where it concerns sheep and shepherding. Of all domesticated animals, sheep are the most helpless and they will spend their entire day grazing, wandering from place to place, never looking up. As a result, they often become lost. But sheep have no “homing instinct” as other animals do. They are totally incapable of finding their way to their sheepfold even when it is in plain sight. By nature, sheep are followers. If the lead sheep steps off a cliff, the others will follow.
Also, sheep are easily susceptible to injuries which makes them helpless against predators. If a wolf enters the pen, they will not defend themselves. They will not try to run away or spread out. On the contrary, they huddle together and are easily slaughtered. Also, if sheep fall into moving water, they will drown, because , sheep fear moving water and will not drink from any stream or lake unless the water is perfectly still. This gives some clarity to what David wrote in Psalm 23, when he said “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.” Psalm 23:1-2.
Thus, sheep rely completely upon their shepherd who compassionately cares for them. Shepherds were the providers, guides, protectors, and constant companions of their sheep. So close was the bond between shepherd and sheep that to this day Middle Eastern shepherds can divide flocks that have mingled at a well or during the night simply by calling their sheep, who know and follow their shepherd’s voice. Shepherds were inseparable from their flocks. They would lead the sheep to safe places to graze and make them lie down for several hours in a shady place. Then, as night fell, the shepherd would lead the sheep to the protection of a sheepfold.
Now there were two kinds of sheepfolds or pens back in that day. One kind was a public sheepfold found in the cities and villages. It was large enough to hold several flocks of sheep. This sheep pen would be under the care of a porter/doorkeeper, who was responsible to guard the door to the sheep pen at night. Then when morning came, would let the shepherds in to claim their sheep. The shepherds would call their sheep, each of which knew their shepherd’s voice, and would lead them out to pasture.
The second kind of sheep pen was in the countryside, where the shepherds would keep their flocks in good weather. This type of sheep pen was nothing more than a rough circle of rocks piled into a wall with a small open space to enter, where the shepherd would drive the sheep at nightfall. Since there was no gate to close—just an opening—the shepherd would keep the sheep in and wild animals out by lying across the opening. He would sleep there, in this case literally becoming the door to the sheep.
What Jesus was saying is He was both the shepherd and the door to the sheepfold. He is contrasting Himself with many of the Jewish and religious leaders in His day whom He categorized as thieves and robbers. “All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life and might have it abundantly.” John 10:8-10. And because when the shepherd leads His flock to sheep pens in the countryside at night with no doors and would lay at the door to keep them in and safe, this is a great picture of the next verse where it says, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” John 10:11.
In closing, everyone who believes Jesus is the Messiah, repents of their sins and gives their lives fully to Him is assured of being in the sheep fold of Christ and of entering in by the door. As Christians, Jesus is our shepherd and the door to the sheep fold. And He provides all our needs including complete protection, for there are many in this world who hate and desire to get rid of us. We must rely completely on Him in everything, and we must follow where He leads us. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” John 10:27-29.
William Funkhouser MDiv, ThD, Founder and President of True Devotion Ministries.