Sufficient: Door of the Sheep by Abidan Shah, PhD

SUFFICIENT – DOOR OF THE SHEEP by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: How many of ya’ll have seen the movie Monster’s Inc. Mike and Sully are two monsters working at Monster’s Inc, where they capture the screams of little kids to harness energy. They are warned not to interact with kids, but, one day, Sully discovers an active door left in the station. When he goes to investigate, he accidentally lets a little girl into the factory. As you know, they name her Boo, try to return her, and so on. One scene from the movie that was always fascinates me is the “Door Warehouse” where millions of doors of all types and colors are stored. One of Jesus’ “I am” statement is “I am the “Door of the Sheep.” As you know, we’re in our series titled “Sufficient,” looking at how Jesus is sufficient for us. To answer that, we’re looking at the 7 “I am” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John. Main point: Jesus is the Door of the Sheep. He doesn’t come to trick us or trap us. He comes through the door, calling our name, and leads us out. He goes before us, and we follow him because we know his voice. When we enter through him, we not only find salvation, but we also find fullness of life.

John 10      7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

Context: Hopefully, you have understood the pattern of this series by now. We should not try to interpret the metaphor or the allegory of these statements by today’s standards. When Jesus said, “I am the Bread of Life,” it was not our modern bread in mind. When Jesus said, “I am the Light of the World,” it was more than just the benefits of electricity. So also, when Jesus said, “I am the Door of the Sheep,” don’t think of the doors in Monster’s Inc. or try to compare it with the different kinds of doors we have today: bedroom door, closet door, shower door, cabinet door, etc. Instead, we must ask: What did he mean by that statement in its original context? How did the people who were listening to him understand it? Why did the apostle John include it in his gospel?

Once again, don’t forget that when Jesus made the statements with the words “I am,” the Jewish people heard the name of God. Even though, many believed, many also rejected him and tried to stone him, but Jesus didn’t recant.

Application: What do you believe about Jesus? Again, as C. S. Lewis put it (paraphrase), “Jesus is a liar, lunatic, or Lord. You have to pick.”

Now, to understand the true meaning of Jesus’ statement, “I am the Door of the Sheep,” we must look at the context to see what was going on at the time. Just as the Feast of the Passover was the background for the Bread of Life and the Feast of the Tabernacles was the background for the Light of the World, the Feast of Dedication was the background for “I am the Door of the Sheep” and “I am the Good Shepherd.” John 10       22“Now it was the Feast of Dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter. 23 And Jesus walked in the temple, in Solomon’s porch.” What is the Feast of Dedication? We know this feast today as Hanukkah. It celebrates the restoration of the Temple and the dedication of the altar by Judas Maccabeus. To give a little background, in 167BC, Antiochus Epiphanes, the Seleucid King of the Hellenistic-Syrian kingdom, decided to desecrate the Temple in Jerusalem. We don’t know for sure why he did that. Maybe it was to teach the Jewish people a lesson because there was an uprising in the city against him. Maybe it was because he was at war with the Ptolemaic kingdom in Egypt and was hoping to crush any chance of future rebellion. Maybe it was to Hellenize the city. He entered the temple and sacrificed a pig on the altar and set up an idol to Baal Shamem (Olympian Zeus). Many Jewish people felt that this was the abomination of desolation that Daniel had prophesied about in Daniel 11:31“And forces shall be mustered by him, and they shall defile the sanctuary fortress; then they shall take away the daily sacrifices, and place there the abomination of desolation.” We know that this was not the ultimate fulfillment of that prophecy because there are other things mentioned like all the tribulation and the resurrection of the dead that have not happened yet. If anything, Antiochus was a foreshadow of the Antichrist who tried to destroy the Jewish people. By the way, antisemitism still goes on to this day, and we should always denounce it. But, this went on for three years until 164BC when Judas Maccabeus (the Hammer) and his troops regained control of the Temple, cleaned and restored it, and rebuilt a new altar. Every year since then, this was an eight-day festival. It was a time of joy and celebration. It was forbidden to fast during this feast. It also was known as the Festival of Lights where one candle per day was lit on a 7-candle menorah.

First and foremost, in light of the Feast of Dedication, Jesus had Antiochus Epiphanes in mind when he said in 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.”The church needs to be prepared for those who will try to climb in one way or the other to get to the sheep. 1 John 2:18 “Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour.” There have always been antichrists, but it’s getting more real than ever. 

Application: Are we aware? Are we ready?

Secondly, he also had the corrupt and hypocritical religious leaders in mind. According to Old Testament law, priests belonged to the tribe of Levi and had to be descendants of Aaron. Through the centuries, priesthood in Israel had continued a downward spiral. In 174 BC, a man by the name of Jason bribed Antiochus Epiphanes to become the high priest. Three years later, a man by the name of Menelaus, who was not even a Levite, also bribed his way to the position. Then in 37 BC, with the coming of Herod the great, the high priesthood became a political appointment under Rome’s supervision. Gone were the days when holiness, righteousness, and integrity were the qualifications for the priesthood. Now it was political savvy, power plays, and big pockets. This was the reason why some Jewish people actually built a temple in Leontopolis, Egypt. This was the reason why some Jewish people fled to form the Dead Sea community at Qumran. The average people went to the temple, but, inside, they knew it was corrupt. It is tragic when pastors and church leaders become corrupt. They will have to give an account.

Application: Have you been hurt personally or by the example of a church leader? God understands your pain. Come to him. Don’t let someone’s failure keep you from following Christ.

Jesus also had the Pharisees and the Scribes in mind. John 10        2 “But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” The Greek word for “lead them out” is “exago,” the same word used in Acts 5:19 for the angel leading the apostles out of prison. The Pharisees and the Scribes were imprisoning people. In the previous chapter, we read about the man born blind whom Jesus healed on the Sabbath. What was their reaction? John 9       13 They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees. 14 Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” 16 Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath…Wow! Instead of being happy for this man born blind from birth, they were critiquing his healing timing! 24 So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, “Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner.” 25 He answered and said, “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 Then they said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” 28 Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses’ disciples. 29 We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.” 30 The man answered and said to them, “Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes…34 They answered and said to him, “You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they cast him out. 35 Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” 36 He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” 37 And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” 38 Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. 39 And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.” 40 Then some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these words, and said to Him, “Are we blind also?” 41Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘We see.’ Therefore your sin remains. The Pharisees and the Scribes were in the business of binding people, but Jesus was in the business of setting people free! John 8        31Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. 32 And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free…36Therefore if the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.” Matthew 23         1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples, 2 saying: “The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. 3 Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do. 4 For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men’s shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.” Galatians 5:1 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.”

Legalism will always try to bind people, and it all comes in every brand. Someone tried to do that to me the other day – “You can preach or teach all you want, but until you experience it, you don’t know.” 1 Corinthians 12:3 “…no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.” 1 John 4:2 “By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God.”

Application: Are you letting people lock you up with man-made rules? Remember, it is not from God. What is the test for God’s shepherds? Are they living up to it? Only Christ can truly live up to this standard. Human beings will always fall short.

Back to John 10       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 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. This was a fulfillment of Ezekiel 34       1 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 2 “Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy and say to them, “Thus says the Lord GOD to the shepherds: ‘Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? 3 You eat the fat and clothe yourselves with the wool; you slaughter the fatlings, but you do not feed the flock. 4 The weak you have not strengthened, nor have you healed those who were sick, nor bound up the broken, nor brought back what was driven away, nor sought what was lost; but with force and cruelty you have ruled them. 5So they were scattered because there was no shepherd; and they became food for all the beasts of the field when they were scattered. 6 My sheep wandered through all the mountains, and on every high hill; yes, My flock was scattered over the whole face of the earth, and no one was seeking or searching for them…11 For thus says the Lord GOD: ‘Indeed I Myself will search for My sheep and seek them out. 12 As a shepherd seeks out his flock on the day he is among his scattered sheep, so will I seek out My sheep and deliver them from all the places where they were scattered on a cloudy and dark day…22 therefore I will save My flock, and they shall no longer be a prey; and I will judge between sheep and sheep. 23 I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd.

Invitation: Jesus is the Door of the Sheep. He doesn’t come to trick us or trap us. He comes through the door, calling our name, and leads us out. He goes before us, and we follow him because we know his voice. When we enter through him, we not only find salvation, but we also find fullness of life. Do you have the right shepherd? Have you gone through him to be saved? Are you walking in the fullness of life?

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