Entering Through the Sheep Door

Entering Through the Sheep Door

Life & Light Community Church

Message from 5/13/2023

Life & Light Community Church began in the early months of 2020. What began as an opportunity for me, my wife and step-kids to continue to worship together, has now evolved into a ministry that has expanded to include close friends, family, and those who are simply hungry for the word of God. You can find us on Facebook, so please, feel free to reach out and join us.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. “When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. “A stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them. So, Jesus said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. “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 will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”

                                                                                  John 10:1–10 (NASB95)

We have been following the controversy of the man born blind who has been blessed by God with a miracle restoring his sight. Having had clay applied to his eyes by Jesus, he is told to go wash in the pool of Siloam and as he does, his sight is restored. You would think that all is well with the man but there is one small issue, an issue the religious leaders, the Pharisees, object to strenuously. This miracle has been performed on the Sabbath.

The man faced questioning that was overwhelming, questioning that even included his parents, but he held his own against the enraged Pharisees who sought to discredit Jesus. In their anger, the Pharisees had been blind to the Scriptures that speak directly to the fact that Messiah will bring sight to the blind. As the chaos and controversy surrounding the miracle continue to grow, the formerly blind man finds Jesus, the true shepherd of Israel, and Entering Through the Sheep Door, he finds peace, safety, and acceptance.

Jesus states that only by Entering Through the Sheep Door can anyone claim to be the shepherd of the sheep. The shepherd’s sheep will follow him because they know his voice but flee from the voice of a stranger. Jesus claims to be the door of the sheep and all others came to steal, kill, and destroy, while He offers an abundant life to those sheep who enter the sheepfold through Him.

If we are to be true Christ followers, we must know the voice of Christ, that we might follow Him when He calls our name. All other voices seek to lead us astray, causing harm or destruction. It is only by Entering Through the Sheep Door that we can follow our shepherd to a life of abundance and security.

In this message we seek to answer the question, “How does the Christ follower know they are Entering Through the Sheep Door?”

The Christ follower will know they are Entering Through the Sheep Door when they can recognize the voice of Christ, who says “I am the door of the sheep.”

(When reading and studying John 10, it is best to understand this chapter in the context of Ezekiel 34. Ezekiel 34 is a condemnation of Israel’s religious leaders for not properly caring for God’s sheep.)

1). The first way the Christ follower will know they are Entering Through the Sheep Door is when they know the voice of our Shepherd as He calls our name.

We must learn to flee from the strange voices we do not know – voices that belong to thieves and robbers.

The conversation recorded by John in chapter 10 is a continuation of the conversation following the miracle healing of the man born blind. Jesus continues the conversation by describing a thief and a robber climbing into a sheepfold. The thief and the robber do not enter through the door of the sheepfold, as does the True Shepherd. The sheepfold, in this conversation, is an enclosure to keep the sheep safe, especially at night. The enclosure may be eight to then feet high and topped with thorns to keep the predators from climbing over the top. There was a single entrance, used by the sheep and the shepherd, to enter into or come out of the sheepfold. This single entrance made it much easier to protect the sheep.

The Pharisees, the religious leaders of Israel, no doubt claimed to be the shepherds of God’s sheep. However, we have just witnessed, through the Scriptures, a man who had been born blind, cured, and then rejected by those same “shepherds,” while the man sought care a shepherd would surely have provided. In fact, these “shepherds” removed the man from the very flock they claimed to shepherd. In this context, these Pharisees, the religious leaders of Israel, are nothing more than thieves and robbers. The formerly blind man has found the True Shepherd in Yeshua, the shepherd who entered through the door of the sheepfold – thus, the religious leaders have tried to enter the sheepfold through unauthorized means.

It was a well-known fact at the time that the best way to hurt a sheep owner economically was to scatter the flock by night – this would be a time-consuming task the shepherd would have to undertake to gather the sheep into the sheepfold. After all, the thief can only steal what he can carry after killing or binding the sheep. However, because Jesus has entered through the door, He has been recognized and permitted entry by the doorkeeper. This means that Yeshua is the rightful leader who entered through the only appointed means of entry, thus He is God’s shepherd, and He has authority to lead the sheep.

Because Jesus has been recognized by the doorkeeper and entered through the door, the sheep will know the voice of their shepherd. The voice of the shepherd is clear, strong, sure, and decisive. The words spoken by the shepherd are words of care and tenderness; they are words of warning and safety; and they are words of truth and security. The sheep must discern the shepherds who enter by the door, but they must also be aware of those who climb over the wall. Should a stranger call out to the sheep, they would not recognize the voice, in fact, they would flee from the voice because they would not recognize the sound – it is weak and frail, uncertain and unclear – the sound and the words are different from the True Shepherd.

How does this apply to the Christ follower today? Let’s start with the “doorkeeper.” The True Shepherd is known by the “doorkeeper,” for the Christ follower this is God the Father or the Holy Spirit. The “doorkeeper” only opens the door for the True Shepherd – He alone has been appointed to use the door. One of the biggest points of contention with the Pharisees is that Jesus claims to have been sent by God – He has been sent by His Father and He seek only to do the will of His Father. The True Shepherd knows where the door is, and He uses it. His purpose – to do the will of the sheep owner, in our context, God the Father.

Now let’s take a look at the “door.” The “door” represents the position of Messiah – only the True Shepherd has the right to enter the sheepfold and call His own sheep to follow Him. As the “door” for the sheep, Jesus represents the way to eternal life and the way into the kingdom of God. True Christ followers, as sheep belonging to the True Shepherd, would never follow someone pretending to be their shepherd.

Question for discussion/reflection:

Those who are “thieves” and “robbers” only seek to lead astray and cause harm or destruction. Who or what are the “thieves” and “robbers” you are facing during this season of life?

What other “voices” are making it hard to hear the “voice” of the True Shepherd?

The sheepfold is meant to be a place of protection, safety, and acceptance. How are those who would be “thieves” and “robbers” trying to scatter you from the sheepfold?

The Christ follower will know they are Entering Through the Sheep Door when they can recognize the voice of Christ, who says “I am the door of the sheep.”

2). The second way the Christ follower will know they are Entering Through the Sheep Door is when we have followed our Shepherd to a life of abundance and security.

All others seek to lead us astray to cause harm or destruction.

At night, in the desert, the sheep are herded into the sheepfold. This enclosure might have been a natural defensive feature such as the face of a cliff or the edge of a canyon. The walls were topped with thorns to protect from predators climbing over the wall, and there was one small opening through which the sheep and the shepherd would enter. However, when the shepherd called the sheep out of the sheepfold, the only protection they had was what was provided by the shepherd. While in pasture, there is another enclosure for the sheep. Here the shepherd literally becomes the door.

The shepherd would sit or lie across the opening, thus anyone who would come in or go out, must go through the “door.” The sheep can go out to pasture or stay in the sheepfold – to go out or to come in means to pass before the watchful care of the shepherd. What is pictured here is the sheep recognizing the voice of the shepherd and they have followed Him out to pasture. The True Shepherd leads the sheep, and the sheep willingly follow the shepherd. The sheep follow because the shepherd feeds the sheep; he guides the sheep; he seeks and saves the sheep; he protects the sheep; he restores the sheep; and he rewards the sheep for obedience and faithfulness.  

Those Jews who believed in Jesus heard His voice and followed Him as the true Shepherd. True sheep do not listen to false teachers, false leaders, or false messiahs, because true sheep recognize the voice of the authentic shepherd. Believing Jews recognized His voice and followed Him. The Pharisees, the religious leaders of Israel, do not hear His words, do not accept His works, ad do not recognize His voice because they seek to discredit Yeshua as a false messiah, when in reality, they are the evil shepherds of Israel.

As “thieves” and “robbers” the Pharisees claim to know the right way; to have the newest and best ideas and teachings. They claim the greatest religion, works, maturity, and claim to have the best inheritance found in Moses. They claim to be the “door” to God’s kingdom and thus, they drive the people to follow them. Jesus offers a contrast to the ways of the Pharisees – as the True Shepherd, the sheep recognize His voice and He will LEAD them out – NOT DRIVE them, for His sheep will flee from a voice they do not recognize.

How does this apply to the modern Christ follower? The sheepfold is a place of safety. For the Christ follower this is a place of acceptance by God; it is a place of safety and security in the presence of God. For the Christ follower, it is the position of salvation; the position of being accepted by God because we have approached God through His Son, Yeshua – He is the only acceptable way into the presence, safety, security, and acceptance of God.

Yeshua leads His sheep into pasture that can satisfy the soul; a pasture that can restore the soul; a pasture that can give life and life eternal. It is a pasture that can feed the sheep with knowledge, understanding, and truth. Thus, Yeshua is the “door” to salvation; the “door” to a relationship with God; and the “door” to eternal life. Said another way, Yeshua is the “way” to salvation; the “way’ to a relationship with God; the “way” to eternal life. Following Yeshua as our Shepherd brings safety and security, peace, and tranquility. Because Yeshua is the “door,” the sheep can come in and go out – in Jewish thought, to come in and go out is to be without difficulty or danger.  

Questions for discussion/reflection:

Jesus knows His sheep and he calls them by name; the sheep know the sound of His voice and follow Him. Where is Jesus calling you to follow Him during this season of life?

False shepherds seek only to drive the sheep for their own benefit. As the True Shepherd, Yeshua LEADS the sheep. How are you experiencing Yeshua as He leads you in your faith journey?

What has been your most common experience with Jesus as the True Shepherd recently? Has it been peace, security, tranquility, or acceptance? Perhaps you have had a different experience than those listed?

The Christ follower will know they are Entering Through the Sheep Door when they can recognize the voice of Christ, who says “I am the door of the sheep.”

The image presented in this passage is one of sheep in a threatening desert – food and water are scarce, and predators roam about everywhere. Yeshua, as the True Shepherd, offers a picture of well-fed sheep, led to pasture, and water daily. The sheep are given safe haven at night in the strong walls of the sheepfold. As the “door” Yeshua alone is the sentry – the “doorkeeper.” Yeshua is also the genuine Messiah, and because He is Messiah, the sheep can enter through Him to find salvation, freedom, and eternal life. This is a picture of the abundant life.

The abundant life speaks of depth of living in the here and now, while, at the same time, speaking to length of time in eternity. This is not just a life as good as it can get here, but also life beyond anything we can imagine. Yeshua gave this life to the formerly blind man; one whose parents abandoned him, and his church and religious leaders rejected. The life that is presented here is, clearly, not a life that denies problems and pain. Instead, this is a life that faces problems and pain and makes use of them.

As we will soon see in this gospel, Yeshua told His disciples, “In the world you will have tribulation,” thus, removing any last hopes of a life guaranteed comfort and success. But it is the words that follow in which we attach our hope, “but take courage; I have overcome the world.” So, rather than allowing is to focus on life’s ups and downs, Yeshua takes us deep into life itself, where there is a peaceful center, even in the middle of the storm. No matter what you may be facing; no matter what the circumstances; no matter the chaos found in the storms of life – may you find Christ in the center to bring peace, tranquility, safety, and security.

As the True Shepherd, Yeshua is the only One who can bring such to the sheep of His pasture.

We do all things for the glory of God, through Christ our Lord,

Amen and amen.

Next Week” John 10:11-18

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