by Arthur Diener
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. John 10:9
Sheep have been a valuable commodity for centuries. While modern shepherds have the benefit of new tools and weapons to care for and protect their flocks, ancient shepherds relied on much more primitive means. Because sheep are relatively easy to care for and manage, and they provide valuable resources, it was not uncommon for ancient families to have their own small flock. Even in more urban areas, families would keep their flocks in a front courtyard area, oftentimes in a common pen where many families would leave their sheep with a guard overnight. The next morning, the shepherd of each flock would arrive and, after being recognized by the guard, call their flock away from the large group. The sheep would hear the call of their shepherd and follow, making the job of separating the sheep an easy task. This was a very simple process, if you were the shepherd.
Shepherding and sheep are used all throughout the Word of God to illuminate our relationship with God. Over and over, God is portrayed as our “Good Shepherd.” Psalm 23, most famously, describes God’s loving leadership as our Shepherd. Ezekiel 24 prophesies that a Shepherd will come to rescue His sheep, a prophecy fulfilled by Christ. In John chapter 10, Jesus talks about shepherding, adding to the litany of shepherding references in the Bible.
In the book of John, Jesus uses the imagery of a sheep’s pen, door, and shepherd to reveal a truth about Himself. The audience knew that the Old Testament referred to God as The Shepherd and were quite familiar with the care of sheep. Because of this familiarity, His statement carries much weight. In John 10:9, Jesus says, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” Jesus is saying that he is the way to salvation. Those in His flock have access to security and abundant blessing through the door that is Christ. Then, in verse 11 He says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” He is not just the only way to salvation, but He is the one who leads us there. Jesus is claiming to be the Messiah, the one who came to save us lost sheep.
Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” Jesus came to be our shepherd, leading us to salvation through His sacrifice. In His death, our iniquity was paid for, the way to salvation prepared. Our duty is to listen to the voice of the Good Shepherd and follow Him.
Be encouraged not just in the security and freedom we have with Christ as The Door and our Shepherd, but in sharing the gospel of truth. John 10:3 says this, “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” Those who are called by Jesus will come. We may or may not be witness to that moment, but we should always be faithful to share the gospel.