Over the next several Mondays, the contributing writers at Of Larks will be sharing a series on Jesus' I AM statements in the book of John. This is the fourth post in the series. Read the introductory post to the series here, "Bread of Life" here, and "Light of the World" here.
“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 listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture," (John 10:7-9).
“I am the door,” in John’s Gospel is one of the eight “I am” statements we receive to the divinity and unique nature of Jesus Christ.
Jesus uses the familiar sheep and shepherd imagery as He does throughout Scripture, and it is important to note why these are consistent biblical themes. Sheep need such focused care as they are creatures prone to wander. These animals spend their days grazing from place to place without ever looking up, causing them to get lost. By nature, sheep are unique in the fact that they cannot find their way home like other animals are capable of. Thus, they are entirely dependent on their shepherds to guide, provide for, and protect them.
In biblical times, a doorkeeper was hired to close the door to the sheep’s pen at night after the shepherds had gone to sleep. This man’s sole job was to guard the door throughout the night, ensuring thieves couldn’t steal or harm the sheep. As morning approached, the shepherds would arrive, calling out to their sheep and leading them out to pasture. Only approved shepherds could enter through the door as allowed by the doorkeeper.
In the remote countryside, pens were nothing more than a pile of rocks formed into a wall. With no gate to close, the shepherd would lie across the narrow opening to protect the sheep and keep wild animals out. He would sleep there, quite literally being the door.
Jesus is the Door
Twice in these verses Jesus emphasizes, “I am the door.” Jesus distinguishes Himself from any and all other methods for salvation and holiness. He is not a door to salvation, He is the door.
The open door of Christ’s lordship means He is our passageway into communicating and encountering God’s majesty. The barrier between God and mankind has been broken, and the door to freedom is open because of Christ. We are welcomed into our almighty God’s presence, into His heavenly kingdom, and into eternal life because the door is now open to us.
Jesus is the Shepherd Entering the Door
Take note of the unique way Jesus illustrates His character. First He describes Himself as the door, followed by, “If anyone enters by Me.” Jesus exclusively makes Himself to be both the door by which the shepherd enters—and the shepherd that enters in by that same door. Just as shepherds have access and approval to walk through the door, Jesus as the Good Shepherd has sacred access, authority, privilege, and ownership to the heavenly door.
By fulfilling the Old Testament prophesies as the rightful Shepherd (Ezekiel 34), Jesus ushers His flock into new covenant blessings of freedom and salvation. As the Shepherd of our souls (1 Peter 2:25), Jesus knows us completely (John 10:14), down to the hairs on our head (Matthew 10:30); likewise, we know His voice and follow His leading in trust and confidence.
Jesus Will Close the Door
While Jesus patiently holds the door open to all who will receive Him and believe in His name (John 1:12), He also secures and protects His people by keeping out thieves and robbers. In the context of John’s Gospel, thieves and robbers represent false prophets and false shepherds who tempt to lead the wandering and lost away from Christ.
But we are also warned about the judgement of Jesus Christ: “The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father” (John 5:22-23). Matthew also conveys this truth in his Gospel: “Before Him will be gathered all the nations, and He will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (25:32).
Someday, Jesus will gather up His sheep while bringing judgment to those, depicted as the goats, who reject His free gift of saving grace. May we praise Him for providing all the resources of heaven to us so that we may reconcile today with security for tomorrow. And may our hearts be at ease knowing that no harm from our enemies will ever enter through heaven’s gates.
The Door that Leads to Life
Jesus, as our protective barrier and passageway to life, shares His desire for His sheep: “‘I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly’” (John 10:10). He says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6, emphasis added). Jesus is the way we receive abundant life. Our Good Shepherd has come from heaven, not to take away life, but to give life.
In order to walk through something, we must start on the outside. And because we are all born sinners and cannot attain righteousness by our own efforts (Rom. 5:12, 19), we need our Savior to lead us to and through the door. It’s a beautiful picture when you imagine sheep being released out into open pastures once the gate is opened—and how we experience a greater eternal freedom when Christ leads us out into glory.
Friend, take heart today knowing you cannot build your own door or walk through dozens of doors to receive God’s eternal favor. The only door you need to walk through is Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12). When we enter through Jesus, we find the gift of abundant life that is securely yours because of His mercy and grace.
“And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.”
1 Peter 5:8
 Keener, Craig S. "Jesus Is the Good Shepherd Who Is Gathering His Flock." Bible Gateway. Accessed February 18, 2017. https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/John/Jesus-Good-Shepherd-Who-Flock.
"How is Jesus the ‘True Shepherd’ in John 10:1-5?." Got Questions Ministries. Accessed February 18, 2017. https://www.gotquestions.org/what-happens-death.html
MacArthur, John. “I Am the Door” Grace to You. Accessed February 18, 2017. https://www.gty.org/library/sermons-library/43-52/i-am-the-door