“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice; and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father. There was a division therefore again among the Jews for these sayings. And many of them said, He hath a devil, and is mad; why hear ye him? Others said, These are not the words of him that hath a devil. Can a devil open the eyes of the blind? And it was at Jerusalem the feast of the dedication, and it was winter [i.e. the Festival of Lights, Hanukah]. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him. Therefore they sought again to take him; but he escaped out of their hand, and went away again beyond Jordan into the place where John at first baptized; and there he abode. And many resorted unto him, and said, John did no miracle: but all things that John spake of this man were true. And many believed on him there.” (John 10:1-42)
“If you could turn in your Bibles to John chapter 10. If you don’t have a Bible, in some of the seats there are Bibles tucked in the back of the seat. If you don’t have a Bible, maybe you can share, maybe somebody would share their Bible with you. But we’re in John chapter 10. Just again, a note, this week we’re starting home fellowships. We haven’t had a home fellowship ministry before in this church, and it’s something we’re excited about. But I do just want to note to you that we’re just getting started. There’s been prayer and preparation and all that, but blessed are the flexible, there’ll be some changes I’m sure as we get started. Times, maybe nights, maybe homes, you know. So we’re just getting started and we’ll just take it as it comes and learn as we go. But I’m excited. Again, tomorrow as a church, we’ve set aside a time of fasting and prayer, and I want to note to you that’s of course voluntary, that’s between you and God if you’d like to be part of it. But prayer is powerful, Jesus said “Ask and ye shall receive.” In fact, even in our Bible reading, as we read through the Bible each year and have the Scriptures in the back of the bulletin, if you’d like to follow along, in yesterdays passage coincidentally [rabbis say with God there is no such thing as coincidence], Jesus mentioned about the time one father’s son was demon possessed, and the disciples couldn’t cast out the demon, and the disciples asked ‘Why couldn’t we do it?’ and he said ‘Well these come out by prayer and fasting.’ So there is obviously power to prayer, but also fasting, and there’s something about fasting where we really set aside our hearts for a time of focused prayer. You’re welcome to be part of it. It certainly isn’t required. In fact, if you are fasting, we’d rather not know, it’s really something that’s private to begin with. But there is a benefit as a corporate body doing it in seasons together. We see that in the early Church in the book of Acts time, as they did that, and we see where communities that have fasted and prayed for God’s blessing on the community, and we’ve certainly heard stories, studied Church history where God has worked as a result in a community. So we want to pray for our community, whatever our community might be, Fitchburg, Gardner, Leominster, Lunenburg, whatever it is. The home fellowships can use the opportunity to have little prayer-meetings in the different communities they’ll be meeting in. But we’ll do it for a week. And whenever we’ve done it, we’ve always seen significant fruit as a result. And I do believe that especially at this age in our nation, man, the Church needs to be a Church that prays. Man, our entire nation really, needs to turn to God in prayer. It’s so crucial So may we be a body of believers that is serious about prayer. So again, I’m not sure what your thoughts are about fasting, you may want to try it, fasting may be going without your veggie-tales videos or without your golf. It can be going without food, whatever it means, it’s a personal thing and it’s between you and the Lord. It certainly isn’t required, it’s just something we’ve sought to do as a church [see http://www.unityinchrist.com/prayer/fasting.htm ]….Well lets say a word of prayer again, and we’ll start here in John chapter 10. ‘Lord we thank you for your Word, we thank you that we can study it together. And Jesus, you say many times in the Gospels, you say “He who has ears to hear, let him hear”, and we all have ears, and I’m sure most of us this morning can hear with our ears. The point you make is ‘Can we hear your voice? Do we have the spiritual discernment, is our heart a heart that wants to hear from God?’ And I pray Lord as we study your Word, of course I’m nothing, I’m only learning the little bit of the things I learn from your Word, but it’s your Word Lord, John chapter 10 is your Word. And I pray all our hearts would be open to you, to hear from you, what you have to say to us individually. And I ask Holy Spirit that you’d be upon all of us, and upon me now as we go through your Word, in Jesus name, Amen.’
“My sheep hear my voice”
When I was young, we had different pets, we weren’t a family that had lots of pets all at the same time (some folks had a lot of pets), but we usually had one. And once we had two, I think we had a dog and a cat. But generally we had dogs when I was growing up. And having dogs, dogs are typical for this, I had an experience, it wasn’t uncommon, I’d come home, maybe get off the school bus, I’d have a summer job and be coming home, and I’d walk to the house, and as I’d walk to the house, if nobody was there and I was the first one to come home that afternoon, you could hear our dog, he’d just start barking away, and even growling and you could just hear him hissing and stuff. But as you got nearer to the house and I grabbed a-hold of the door, maybe put the key in the lock I would then call out the dog’s name, and by calling out the dog’s name, when the dog heard my voice, his disposition would change, his response would change. Now instead of this aggressive barking, there’d be whimpering, the whelping and the crying and I could just see him there wagging his tail now a zillion miles and hour. Open the door and the first thing you’re greeted with is those paws, licks and that whole experience. In fact, some of our dogs, some of the smaller dogs, would then kind of run around the house all excited, or if you let them out they’d run around the yard real quick, do some laps, all excited, as dogs are, make you feel good. And right now, my wife and I, we don’t have dogs. But my young children are sort of like that when I come home, I get the same experience [laughter], except for the licks and barks and stuff like that, they get all excited, in fact they run around a little bit too, Dad’s home. So, makes you feel good. But what causes the change in response, from that of aggressive and the barking and the fear to now excitement about the person that’s going to enter the house? What changes it is the voice. The dog recognizes that that voice is somebody that lives hear, and this is a family, this is part of my family. And the dog of course, man’s best friend, is all excited now that family is home, and wants to spend time with family. What changes the response is the voice. [Now my cats, let a robber come into the house, they’ll come up and rub against his leg, purring, looking for some food or something. Not the same.] Interesting, as we’ve been studying remember in John chapter 9 last week, Jesus talked about, he used the analogy of vision, and he referred to the difference between the softer hearts and the harder hearts that are around him. He said the softer hearts, using the analogy of vision, are like those that can see, and the harder hearts were those that were blind. You remember that, using the healing of the man that was blind, he uses that now to speak to his audience about seeing and not seeing, referring to of course spiritually. Now he continues to address this issue at heart, you know, what’s the difference between those that follow him, those that receive him, and those that don’t? Well he uses the analogy before of vision, now he uses the analogy of hearing. And what constitutes the difference is those that can hear his voice and those that don’t hear his voice. And we’ll see that as we go on. So many times in the Gospels he says “If anyone has an ear to hear, let him hear.” And I believe he says the same to us this morning too as we go through his Word. Who has ears to hear? Anybody has an ear to hear, let him hear.
“They know his voice”
Well, verses 1-5, let’s look. “‘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. But he who enters the door is the 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. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this illustration [parable], but they did not understand the things which he spoke.”---of course referring to some of the harder hearts. Well he used a parable, you remember in the other Gospel, Jesus says the same, he uses a parable to illuminate a truth, that word para, alongside. It’s a truth, a story, a picture, it draws an image in your mind. And that image helps illuminate, sheds light on a certain truth so that his audience will better understand or have more of a chance, he’s trying to draw out their understanding, ‘Listen to what I’m trying to say.’ So now he uses this picture to convey certain things to them. And hopefully they’re going to be able to discern what he’s saying, although we’re told there’s some of them that don’t. Well, using this illustration [parable], it’s a sheep and shepherd, that’s something people 2,000 years ago in Palestine would be very familiar with. It would certainly readily convey an image in their minds. Of course a lot of the people back then had a vocation of shepherd, they worked with sheep. In fact there was, historically, some real heavy hitters in the nation of Israel, you know, David and Moses, people like that, themselves were shepherds. So this certainly is something that would convey something to them. But for us now, 2,000 years later, it may not readily convey the image that it would to them. So as we go through this I’ll bring out some of the history that’ll help bring some things to light. But in Jesus’ day during certain times of the year the shepherds would bring their sheep out to some greener pastures, maybe some fields that were further away, maybe along some slopes and things. And they would go further away, so they would have to stay away from their village, and they would build maybe a temporary sheep-pen or sheepfold. They would use brush and things like that to keep their sheep in for the night, and the sheep would stay with the shepherd there in this little sheepfold at night. But also, in this little passage here especially brings this to light, this bit of history. In the villages, maybe during the wintertime, they would stay closer to home. And just outside the villages there was more of a permanent structure made of stone, and the walls around it were six or seven feet high. And what would happen then, is at the end of the day the different shepherds would bring their sheep into the sheepfold, multiple shepherds bringing their sheep into this one area, and it was a permanent type of dwelling. And it was one that was used closer to home in the winter months and things like that. And what would happen is the shepherds would then go home, but they would leave one guy in charge, and he would take care of the sheep for the night. And then in the morning the shepherds would come out, and as they would come out, and they would draw the sheep out, and the sheep would go with them, and you could just see the shepherds going out to the fields then with their sheep in the day. But if you were a casual observer there watching in the morning by the sheep-fold, you could certainly quickly discern, ‘That guy’s a shepherd, and that’s his sheep’, just by certain things that he does and by how the sheep respond to him. You could tell, ‘That’s the shepherd, and that’s his sheep’, it would be very clear to you. And that’s what Jesus is conveying here to his audience. It’s the first point that he makes, is that a true shepherd, when he comes, he enters directly through the doorway into the sheepfold. He comes right in. As he comes in the doorkeeper recognizes, ‘Hey, that guy, he’s parked his sheep here, he’s a shepherd’, and just as you go and get your car from the valet, they recognize the number or whatever, he’s recognized and just let’s the shepherd in, and the shepherd goes in and gets his sheep. So, the fact that he comes through the door, the entrance to the sheepfold, says it’s obvious this guy who comes in so readily, he’s a shepherd. On the other hand, the thief or a robber doesn’t have that same certainty. He knows that if he comes through the door that doorkeeper isn’t going to let him in. So he has to strategize, he probably plans to go in at night, when there’s darkness, with certain tactics and strategies, maybe he can climb over the walls, sneak in, be unnoticed and maybe take a sheep or two or three, maybe be with other thieves and robbers and they can come and take some of the sheep with them. And of course if you saw a guy climbing over the wall, around the back at night, I mean, what would you think? It would be like if a cruiser drove through my neighborhood in the town I live in, and there’s a police officer driving through and he sees me, I’d rather have him see me with my key opening the door than with a pry bar there trying to get through the side window. I’d much rather have him see me going through the front door than through the side window. If he saw that, what would he do? He’d stop and come over and certainly ask me some questions, and then I got to give some kind of evidence, the pry bar isn’t enough evidence to show him that this is my house. I have to demonstrate in another way that I live there. So Jesus is saying that by the manner the shepherd comes, he enters straightway into the sheepfold, that clearly indicates that he belongs there. His behavior shows that he belongs there, unlike somebody else who doesn’t belong there. Their behavior would be different, their behavior would indicate that they didn’t belong there. Now, when my little girl was born in the spring, this past spring, our little baby, there in our local hospital in the maternity ward, when I first came up there and the door is a locked door, a glass door with a little counter, I had to speak to the nurses and explain to them who I was, that my wife was in labor and this is my name, this is her name, and we are going to have a baby shortly, and as I explained to them they go on the computer and did their homework, they let me in as the father. But I stayed there two days, some of us husbands will do that, we’ll stay with our wives. And as I stayed there when my wife had my little girl, we both were given little wristbands to identify that the little baby was ours, and of course the nurses were familiar with our faces. So I’d go down to the cafeteria at times, and when I came back I didn’t even have to say, ‘Hey, this is Steve’, I’d just come walking up and they would see me and they’d just buzz me and let me in. They knew who I was, they recognized me, and they knew that my little baby girl and my wife belonged to me, so I was readily allowed in. And this is the picture of course that Jesus is demonstrating. He’s making it clear that he is not some spiritual thief or robber, he’s not some false spiritual shepherd, he didn’t enter in a sly way and use some strange strategy to try to draw people unto himself, he didn’t do things in secret, but he did it right out in the open. He’s come, he stood before the nation of Israel (right in their temple), he stood before all the world, he’s not held back, he’s said the truth readily and straight, and just by his behavior of doing that it says there’s something different about him, and the fact about the way the sheep respond to him, it shows that he’s genuine and he’s not some false shepherd. [Comment: The ordinary people of Israel, as indicated by some of the remarks by some of the Pharisees, ‘See, the whole world is going after him’, loved Jesus and often followed him in large crowds, even though they didn’t always understand his teaching, finding it hard to comprehend at times (cf. John 6).] Unlike many cultists that come into our community, they come into our community and maybe knock on our doors and they’ll speak to us, but they use a different tactic. They’re not straight with the truth. I think of the Mormons, not to put down anybody, but this is true of Mormons, if you don’t believe me you can try this. But if they come to your home, they’ll tell you this, ‘I believe in Jesus of the Bible,’ they’ll tell you they believe in the Jesus of Christianity and they’ll portray that, but if you know a little bit about Mormonism, you can ask questions and you’ll find out that’s not the case. They won’t tell you though until you ask them questions, straight pointed questions. You’ll ask them, ‘Is Jesus the brother of Satan?’, and they’ll say ‘Yes he is.’ They wouldn’t have told you that before, but the fact that they believe he is says he’s not the same Jesus in the Bible. And you can go on and on with various questions. Cultists do things secretly, they do a sales job, and that’s different than the genuine deal. Jesus just comes and says ‘Here’s the deal, nothing to hide. I’ve come, and here’s the message from God. And I’m not going to try to be sly, and I’m not going to nod my head and say I agree with things I don’t agree with, here’s the deal. Here’s the truth.’ And that is a mark of the real deal, the genuine shepherd, that’s what he’s saying. But another sign again, as Jesus says, is how the sheep respond to his voice, they have ears to hear. Meaning they recognize the shepherd’s voice, and because of their relationship with the shepherd they then respond, and they then follow the shepherd. So they hear his voice, and so they have a relationship with him, they then readily follow him. They know his voice. And like my dogs, growing up, they knew my voice, but they would respond differently to a stranger. I mean, if a stranger came up they’d be barking and howling, and if a stranger tried to calm them down it wouldn’t work. And a lot of you have the bigger dogs, and that’s just the truth, that dog just gets all the more upset. And the sheep are the same way, they would respond differently to a stranger’s voice. In fact, there would be fear and they’d want to flee and run away. I mean if you came as a shepherd, disguised, if you were a thief disguised as the shepherd, the same clothes, you got the little glasses and the staff, and you walk the same way, but then if you spoke the sheep would know, ‘this guy’s just fooling me, man. He’s dressed the same, looks the same,’ you know, you think of the wolf there in Little Red Ridinghood, you know, maybe he dresses the same, but there’s a difference here. And with the sheep it would be specifically the voice that reveals who’s who. Well when the shepherd comes in the morning, he’d call out to them, maybe by name, in some cases in the land of Israel they even named the sheep. Maybe there’s a certain whistle, and man those sheep would come to him, and they would hear his voice, and they would be drawn to him, so then he would leave with all his sheep from the sheepfold, and you could just see the sheep then following behind him. He would lead. He wouldn’t drag them, wouldn’t force them, he would lead. Because they want to be with him, they just follow him. He wouldn’t force them, he would lead, because they want to be with him, so they just follow him. And [looking on] you would say ‘That’s the shepherd, and there’s his sheep.’ So that’s what Jesus is saying to his audience, especially to these hard-hearted religious leaders. He says, ‘Just look at the manner in which I have come, see the response of the people, and the women and men who have ears to hear. And it very clearly testifies that I am the true shepherd.’ But this is also an explanation to these religious leaders why they won’t follow Jesus. It’s also an explanation to them. He’s driving that point home. And the reason they won’t follow him is they don’t have ears to hear. They just don’t have the spiritual discernment. They don’t have the desire really to know, they are spiritually deaf. So they hear the voice physically, but they don’t hear the voice spiritually, so they don’t respond. So at the same time he’s making it clear to them why they don’t respond. I think of a story of a lady in our church, and I would think she would give me the permission to say this story. It’s a cute story, I don’t know if she’s here this morning, I won’t use her name. But when she was young, one night her and her sisters, they slept in different rooms, one particular night, you know, she’s younger, his sisters are younger, there’s a big thunder storm outside and all the lightning and thunder, and the flashing in the window there, and there evidently was a big tree next to her house that began to bang the side of the house. She got very scared. Well in her fear she didn’t want to be alone, so she got on her knees and crawled out of her room, crawled across the hallway and crawled into her sisters room and came up to the side of her bed, and then began to very quietly call out the name of her sister. But the cute part of the story was her sister’s response. Suddenly out of a dead sleep her sister sat up and said “Yes God?” [laughter]. Now there’s somebody who wanted to hear the voice of the Lord! [continued laugher] Didn’t see anybody in the room and heard the voice, “Yes God?”. I always thought that was a cute story when I heard it. So, that’s what Jesus is saying, ‘You religious leaders, you’re not like that. You know, I speak to you and I use stories [parables], I try to get your attention, I want you to change, I want you to turn to me, but you’re not willing to.’ But there are some that are desirous to hear, and man, the sheep hear his voice, and they respond, and they follow him. Well the question then, as we’ve studied this, is what about ourselves? Who do you follow? Just a question between you and God. Who do you follow? Who’s voice do your respond to, is it just your own voice? And can you actually say that? I mean, how many of us really are influenced by other voices? How many people are influenced by that box that sits in the living room? How does that box determine the philosophy and the mindset of our nation, tremendously? Whose voice do you respond to? When you hear God’s Word, does it minister to you? Does it minister to your heart? And do you respond therefore to God’s leading to you? Or maybe are you being deceived by other stranger’s voices in the world. So the question, whose sheep are you and who do you belong to? Jesus is making it clear, ‘It’s clear whose sheep are mine, you can tell by what they do. They hear and they respond, and they follow me.’
“I am the door of the sheep”
Verses 7-10, “Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All whoever came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door, if anyone enters by me, he will be saved and go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.’” Well, what Jesus says here, if you’ve read it closely, it might appear a little confusing. Clearly from the first five verses he refers to himself as a shepherd, as the true Shepherd. And now as he continues to use the same imagery of sheep and shepherd in a sheepfold, now he says something different. He refers to himself as being “the door”. And you’re like, ‘That’s confusing”. Well maybe he’s switching to convey a truth. But there is some history here that makes this passage interesting and allows us to understand it a little bit better. There’s a common practice in the land of Israel, especially then, but even today, that when the shepherds make those sheepfolds, whether with the brush there in the country, or maybe just outside the village with the stone walls, that there’s three walls, or maybe a little bit more than that, and there’s this opening, but there’s often no door, there’s no physical door, it’s just open. But what happens is this, the sheep are brought in at the evening, and the shepherd brings them in, and what he does is he actually lays down in that opening. And in effect, he becomes the door. So now this makes sense, as you see as Jesus says, referring to himself as the shepherd, but also as the door. In fact the practice in Palestine was for the shepherd to be the door to the sheepfold, the sheep-pen. There’s a story of a tourist that observed a shepherd in Syria, and as he was observing how a shepherd drove all his sheep into a sheepfold one evening, the fold was an enclosing wall with only one opening. On that opening he noticed that there was neither door nor gate, so he remarked to the shepherd “Can’t wild beasts get in there? I mean, it’s wide open.” “No,” answered the shepherd, “because I am the door. When the sheep are in for the night, I lie down across the doorway. No sheep can get out except over my body, and no wolf or thief can get in except over me.” And that’s what Jesus is here saying, he’s the shepherd, but he’s also the door. And as the door, like that shepherd would lie down, man, those sheep can’t get out. You know, if you’re sleeping, you know, you can just imagine, maybe a real sly sheep trying to sneak out, like some of us kids did with our parents when we were younger, just imagine if you had to climb over your parents, and if you’re a sheep having four little hooves being a clumsy sheep, I mean, you just can’t get by that guy, he’s laying there, you can’t climb over him. Of course sheep are not real acrobatic, they can’t really jump like deer, the sheep is stuck. But also being a wolf, you’ve got to get flying, but you’ve also got to grab a sheep and then you’ve got to drag it by [or over] that guy. I mean, it’s a great door, about the best door you could have. Just imagine if you slept there on your front door, you know, kind of just leaned there each night, it would be hard to get buy you to break into your house because you’re sleeping there [Just the thought of the old-time farmer sitting on the front porch with a shot-gun to guard against unwanted suitors coming to visit his daughter comes to mind.] Unless you’re like some people who sleep really sound, and you can do just about anything and they won’t wake up. But Jesus is using again this to convey a spiritual truth. He says as he’s the shepherd, he’s also the door, and he’s the door for the sheep-pen. And when he says that, he’s speaking spiritually. But he makes the point, he says “I am the door.” He’s not like Buddha, or Confucius, or Krishna that said “I’m one of the many doors.” Jesus, as we’ve seen throughout the book of John states it emphatically, that this isn’t some church teaching, these are the words of Jesus---“I am THE door, I am the one door.” And with the sheepfold meaning God’s sheepfold, God’s sheep-pen, there’s only one door into the Kingdom of God, where God’s sheep-pen is. And what is the door? How do we get through it? Jesus says “I am the door.” He’ll say that repeatedly as we go through the Gospel of John, these very words, he’ll say “I am the way.” And he makes it clear, there is no other way, as Paul says in the book of Acts, there’s only one name. So Jesus says “I am the door.” So it just says, the sheep, that’s the only way to get into the pen, where there’s safety from harm. You have to go through that door also to go out to the green pastures. And he’s the same, he’s that one door.
“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved”
“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” (verse 9) How do I get to safety, how am I saved? The word there is “saved”, and that word is interesting in the Greek. The word “saved” means “delivered safe and sound.” It was used to say that a person had recovered from severe illness, they were saved from illness, or they had been saved from a bad storm, or they had been saved as a survivor from a war, or maybe they were saved from some court case. We’re delivered from harm. So he says “I am the door, if anyone enter, he will be saved”, he’ll be saved from harm. And of course we then balance that against the rest of Scripture. But also he’s the door, he’ll lead them to green pastures, to what he calls abundant life. And that is true for each and every one of us here today. Jesus says “I am the door”, he is the only way, if you want to get to heaven [into the Kingdom of God], if you want to be saved, saved from sin, your own sin, and the fruit of your sin, if you want to be saved from God’s judgment, God’s wrath, the Bible’s very clear, Jesus spoke of hell more than he spoke of heaven. That God is righteous, and God will judge evil, and the Bible says, Paul says, ‘We’ve all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and the wages of sin is death [cf. Romans 6:23]. If you want to be saved, Jesus says “I am the door”, and “enter in through me and you will be saved.” Saved from destruction, saved from the wrath of God. And not only that, you’ll also have access to green pastures, and to spiritually abundant life, as Jesus says there. I think of Phillip Keller, he was a shepherd in Africa, and he’s a Christian, and he wrote a book later called “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”, and he refers to what Jesus says here, he says “He never hesitated to make it quite clear that when an individual came under his management and control, there would be a certain new and unique relationship between him and them. There would be something very special about belonging to this particular shepherd.” [Phillip Keller wrote “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23”, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids Michigan, available as either a tape or book. To order, try http://www.christianbooks.com.] And that’s what he’s saying. ‘I have sheep, and those that are my sheep, those that have entered in through the door, I am the door, those that have come into my fold, man, they will find green pastures.’ And they will find, in what he says in those verses, is abundant life. Abundant life, they’ll find life, but life more abundant. And you know, in English writing, maybe you did some reporting or did some writing for various things and studied that in college or school, you know we’re told to be very sparing in words like “abundant” and “wonderful” and “marvelous”, you use those words too much they lose their weight, you should hardly use them. But only in certain cases where you really want to make a strong point. [One book written by the late Herbert W. Armstrong, and it is doctrinally sound, because the Jews and Messianic Jews also teach the very same things about this period of time, calling it “The World to Come”, but Mr. Armstrong wrote a book titled “The Wonderful World Tomorrow, What Will It Be Like”. It is all about what the earth will be like after Jesus Christ returns to earth. It also shows what the actual reward of the saints will be upon Jesus’ return to earth, they will be co-rulers with Jesus in his government headquartered in Jerusalem. To learn more of these incredible green pastures Jesus will lead us into at his return, log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm. This is what “heaven” or “the kingdom of heaven” is all about, and what the Bible actually teaches about it. It is an incredible Biblical truth that most of Gentile Christianity has not yet realized is right there in the pages of your Bible.] But interesting, when Jesus refers to the life that he wants to give us, when he refers to his love and his power, he uses words like that all the time. And here he says it’s not just life, man, it’s abundant life. It’s life to the full. So, you’re here today, and the question is, have you entered that door? And do you have eternal life? Are you sure that you are saved---that when you die, you’re going to be with God? Are you absolutely sure that you have and are tasting the abundant life that God wants to give to you?
The difference between a good shepherd and a hireling
Well with this in mind, Jesus will now explain further that he’s not only the true shepherd and therefore the only door to the sheepfold, but also as well see, he says “I am the good shepherd”, he talks about his character. Verses 11-21, he says, “‘I am the good shepherd, the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. The hireling flees because he’s the hireling and does not care about the sheep. I am the good shepherd and I know my sheep and am known by my own. As the Father knows me, even so I know the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have which are not of this fold. Them also I must bring, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd. Therefore my Father loves me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command I received from my Father.’ Therefore there was a division again among the Jews because of these sayings. Many of them said, ‘He has a demon and is mad [crazy]. Why do you listen to him?’ Others said, ‘These are not the words of one who has a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’” I mean, this man has done certain things right before them. Just a little bit again he’s healed a man who was blind from birth. So certainly they’re giving much credence to what he has to say. But he says in verse 11, he says that he is the good shepherd, and as the good shepherd he gives his life for the sheep. That’s why he can say “I am the good shepherd”, because of what he does. His character, there’s also action, there’s expression that goes with that. He says ‘I am the good shepherd, then as the good shepherd I lay down my life for the sheep.’ [some text lost during tape switchover]…on a steep slopes, laboriously dug and oblong trench with an aluminum mess kit, then tucks his children into sleeping bags away from the entrance. He covered the opening with a tarp, but it kept blowing away exposing the trench to the swirling snow outside. Such a desperate situation for a dad and his two children, that he’s teaching them how to hike and he’s caught in this blizzard. So he starts to prepare and dig this trench. Well he puts them in the trench in sleeping bags away from the entrance, and then he covers it with a tarp, but it keeps blowing away. Redic found that he had to lie directly across the opening using his own weight to hold down the edges of the tarp. His body protected his son and daughter from the howling wind. Two days passed before the searchers finally found the corner of a backpack protruding from deep snow. They rushed to the site hoping the snow-covered mound would contain the three missing hikers. Inside they found Sharon and David Redic very much alive, but the stiff body of their father lay against one wall of the snow-cave. He had taken the cold-spot in one searchers words, by using his back as the outer wall. So this father gets stuck in the blizzard there with his two children, and in desperation digs this trench and makes a little place for them to go, but there’s still this opening, so like the shepherd, he puts up a tarp and then lays down on the tarp to protect them from what’s outside, and in the end it cost him his life. And that’s exactly what Jesus Christ has done. He’s laid down there to protect us from the wages of our sin, the fruit of our own doings, which is death. But in order to protect us from that, he took the sting man, and he died in our place. That’s exactly what Jesus is saying, he’s done that for you and I. And because he’s done that, that’s beautiful, that’s truly good, that’s awesome, and because of that, he’s the good shepherd. He is not a hireling, that’s for sure. A hireling is very different, as you see in verse 12. A hireling doesn’t own the sheep, and therefore a hireling won’t go as far, he won’t lay his life down for the sheep. In fact, if a wolf comes, or a bear, or a robber or thief, a hireling will just hit the road. [King David was a good shepherd as a boy for his physical sheep, he actually did fight off a bear and also a wolf once to protect his sheep.] He’s not going to die for those sheep. A hireling is different. And because he’ll run off at a critical moment, the sheep will suffer greatly. And the reason why, as you see there in verse 13, is he says ‘The hireling does not care about the sheep. The hireling doesn’t have the shepherd’s heart.’ But Jesus is our shepherd and he has the shepherd’s heart. I mean, he cares for us. He loves us. And therefore he loves us so much that he was willing to die and lay down his life for us, so that we could be spared of destruction, and spared of spiritual death and separation from God. Well, again referring to a hireling, Keller in his book “A Shepherd’s Look At Psalm 23” refers to a hireling. When he was in Africa he had his sheep, and he remembers others around him. “In memory I can still see one of the sheep ranches in our district which was operated by tenant sheepman, he ought never to be allowed to keep sheep. His stock were always thin, weak and riddled with disease or parasites. Again and again they would come and stand at the fence staring blankly through the woven wire at the green lush pastures which my flock enjoyed. Had they been able to speak I’m sure they would have said, ‘Oh to be set free from this awful owner.’” So he remembers others, man. He said they didn’t even deserve to be shepherds. In his book he speaks of really cruel owners. But as a shepherd in Africa, he wanted to take care of his sheep, and his sheep were well-fed and they were strong and had good pasture. But there were other shepherds that were different. Jesus is the good shepherd, he knows his sheep we’re told in verses 14 and 15. He knows who his sheep are, that’s for sure, and he is also known by them, and he lays down his life for the sheep, for the sheep. There’s a theological question you could ask there. It says he dies for the sheep. And there are some that say Jesus only died for the sheep, meaning that he didn’t die for those who weren’t the sheep. But that’s not exactly what is told in the Scriptures, I mean, that does not balance against the rest of the Scripture. He certainly died for the sheep, meaning his death was sufficient for anybody that would come to him. But [also] his death is only sufficient to those who believe. It’s sufficient for all. But all will not believe. But for those who believe, it is sufficient, for those who believe, his death makes a tremendous difference. So that is the heart of what is said here.
“My Father knows me”
Well, he says “‘My Father knows me” and that makes these guys upset when he says that. “Even so I know the Father, I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep which are not of this fold…’” (verses 15-16) He’s speaking to a Jewish audience, and he’s saying there’s more than just this. Of course the religious leaders despise every time he said that. He’s said that a number of times. But he’s saying this Gospel, this Good News isn’t just for the nation of Israel, isn’t just for the Jew, it was for the Jew initially, God prophecied of the Messiah, but also it would include other sheep from other places, and they’d all become one flock and there would be one shepherd, and the flock is called the Church [or as some call the greater Church, “the body of Christ”, which presently is made up of two major branches, Jewish and Gentile] where there is no Jew or Gentile, there’s no difference. In a couple chapters, Jesus will say in John chapter 12, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all peoples to myself.” It also states to these religious leaders at other times, “And I say to you that many will come from the east and west to sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven”, in Luke his says “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the Prophets in the kingdom of God, and yourselves thrust out.” He’ll say that to religious leaders because they would not accept him. [Comment: The phrase ‘Kingdom of heaven’ and ‘Kingdom of God’ are used throughout the four Gospels in the New Testament interchangeably. Both represent the Kingdom Jesus will bring with him at his 2nd coming, and this Kingdom of Heaven, Kingdom of God will be established on the earth, where Jesus and the resurrected saints will rule in this Kingdom over all surviving mankind. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/kingdomofgod/mkg1.htm for more on this amazing subject, the subject that deals with the actual reward of the saints.] Of course that is prophecied about the Messiah in the Old Testament, Isaiah chapter 49, verse 6, “Indeed he says, ‘It is too small a thing that you”---that is referring to the Messiah---“should be my servant, to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved ones of Israel. I will also give you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be my salvation to the ends of the earth.” Well, and then he says “The Father loves me because I lay down my life”, I mean, he was obedient to the Father, and to the Father, you remember there in the Garden of Gethsemane, he said “Take this cup, if it is your will. But if it’s not, I’m going to do it.” Then verse 18, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself…” The religious leaders will later, it will appear that they put him on the cross, and they’ve taken his life. But if you really study it, he was silent, just as a sheep is silent for its shearers. He didn’t resist. He willfully went. He even sent Judas [from the Passover meal], as you remember. I mean, he laid down his life, ultimately. And then on the cross, before they had the opportunity to do him in and break his legs and kill him as they did the other thieves on the crosses next to him, it said he gave up his spirit. Jesus laid down his life. But he also said “I lay down my life, I have the power to do so, but I also have the power to take it up again. And this command I have received from the Father.” Jesus laid down his life, but he also said “I will raise up my life again”, meaning he would rise from the dead three days later. And he would do that, of course, in conjunction with the Father. He wouldn’t just do it on his own. Romans 8 tells us, the Spirit, the Holy Spirit, ultimately that power that raised him from the dead is also now working in our lives.
Two months later
Verses 22-39, “And it was at Jerusalem the feast of dedication, and it was winter. And Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch. Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ [Hebrew: Meshiach, Messiah], tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him. Therefore they sought again to take him; but he escaped out of their hand.” Well, this causes a whole bunch of confusion with these people, because they don’t all have ears to hear. Verses 22-23, we’ll kind of move quickly now. “Now it was the feast of dedication in Jerusalem, and it was winter, and Jesus walked in the temple in Solomon’s porch.” [The Feast of Dedication is another name for the Festival of Lights, or Hanukah] That porch in the temple, interestingly, the temple was destroyed, the temple of Solomon was destroyed [by Nebuchadnezzar, before this 2nd temple was built by Ezra and Nehemiah] but there were pieces that remained, even though the Babylonians really did a number, and this is a part that survived. Although in the time that John actually writes this, probably later when he was older, after AD 70, this was not in existence anymore. But after the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 585 BC this little part remained. It’s wintertime, a couple months have gone by [since the Feast of Tabernacles, when all this discussion between John 7 and John 10:21 took place]. It seems to be about two and a half months, so verse 22 happens a couple months later [after the Feast of Tabernacles]. John kind of takes certain stories and puts them together. But we have the Feast of Dedication, which is essentially Hanukah today. It’s celebrated for 8 days in the middle of December, which was instituted by Judas Maccabee in 164BC, and it was in commemoration of the cleansing of the temple from the pagan worship of Antiochus Epiphanies, this tremendously ruthless Syrian king [actually a descendant of one of Alexander’s four generals who divided up his Greek empire after his death into four separate Greek empires]. [Comment: The Feast of Dedication, or Festival of Lights (Hanukah), was celebrated to commemorate the incredible and miraculous victory of Judas Maccabee and his tiny army over Antiochus and his huge Syrian army. This victory was necessary so that the temple could be cleansed and a new altar built, before Jesus as a baby could be dedicated in it. It is quite a story. To study it further log onto http://www.unityinchrist.com/messianicmovement/festiavloflights.htm.] Anyway, that’s the time. The Jews surround him. They still have this bitterness in their hearts towards him. He’s come back, they surround him. He was probably in Judea for a couple months, not necessarily in Jerusalem. “But they surround him, and they say, ‘How long do you keep us in doubt? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.’” (verse 24) I mean, he’s made it pretty clear. But they’re trying to get him to use certain words, and he won’t use the word “Christ” [Messiah, Hebrew “Meshiach”]. He’ll say it many different ways, and things they’ll want to stone him for. He’ll say ‘I’m the Son of God’, but he won’t use the word Christ [Messiah] until later. He avoids that. In fact, he knows that there are certain people that want to make him king. He’s not come there to be their little puppet and deliver them from Rome, he’s come to give eternal life, and truly save the people of Israel from their sins. [It is his 2nd coming where he will come to free the Jewish state, the modern nation of Israel, from the final resurrection of the ‘Holy Roman Empire’, and set up the Kingdom of God on earth, headquartered in Jerusalem (cf. Zechariah 14:9, and whole chapter. See http://www.unityinchrist.com/prophecies/2ndcoming_2.htm.] So he won’t use the word Christ directly. The only time he does is under oath before Caiaphas later, as he stands before him, just before he goes to the cross. He’ll say then that he is the Christ, he’ll admit to it, and then he’ll be voted guilty of blasphemy, and will be put on the cross, in a sense of being this rival against Caesar, as a king that wants to raise himself up. He knows their hearts, so he won’t answer it directly like that, because they’re trying to trap him. But what he does though, is he makes things clear to them, he says “‘I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.’” (verse 25) ‘It’s clear to you, it’s clear that I am what I am, and what I say that I am. You’re trying to trap me in words so that you can do certain things. But it’s clear to you.’ “‘But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep, as I said to you.’ (verse 26) Essentially he’s saying, ‘That’s why you don’t believe, because you’re not my sheep, you don’t have a relationship with me, you don’t love me, you don’t want to follow me, so therefore you do not receive what I say.’ Although that’s interesting, we are God’s sheep as Christians [and Messianic Jewish believers in Yeshua haMeshiach], God has actually elected us [cf. John 6:44, 65] , and at the same time we’ve turned and chosen him, both is indeed true.---‘My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall anyone 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 my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.’” (verses 27-30) So he says, ‘My sheep, they hear my voice, they know me, and they follow me. That’s the truth. And I give them eternal life, and they will never die, they will have eternal life. I’m eternal, and I give eternal life, and I also have an eternal grip on their hands.’ And he’s essentially saying, basically, ‘My sheep are in my hands’, there’s this God-grip, a double hand-grip, it’s the Son and the Father, both of those hands on those sheep. And he says ‘Nobody’, I mean, who can take anything out of the hand of God? My little son, he tries to get things out of my hand, and at six years old it’s fun, because he can’t do it, I can hold it so tight. But God, in his hand, there’s nothing that can take anything out of his hand. And it’s the Son and the Father, this double grip. So, he’s eternal, we’re in his hand, we have eternal life, we shall never perish. And he says ‘I and my Father are one.’ Verse 31, “And the Jews took up stones again to stone him.” He clearly and repeatedly is referring to himself as God, and they know that. Verses 32-39, “Jesus answered them, ‘Many good works I have shown you from my Father, for which of those works do you stone me?’”---I mean, he turns it on them, ‘you’re gonna stone me, what have I done?’ They wanted to stone him for works that he did earlier [for doing them on the sabbath]---“The Jews answered saying, ‘For a good work we do not stone you, but for blasphemy, because you being a man make yourself God.’---repeatedly, repeatedly, John is showing us Jesus claimed to be God. Jesus is the Son of God. And that is without any doubt [cf. John 8:58, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” cf. Exodus 3:13-14, “And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.”]. And they want to stone him as a result, his own audience who would certainly know what he is saying. “Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, You are gods’? If he called them gods to whom the Word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, do you say of him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, you are blaspheming, because I have said I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father believe me not. But if I do, though you do not believe me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him.’ Therefore they sought again to seize him, but he escaped out of their hand.” What does Jesus say here? Of course he’s all-wise and has all knowledge, he refers to one of the Scriptures where God, referring to the judges of Israel in Psalm 82, the judges had a lot of power of determining a person’s life or death, so God, even though they weren’t just judges, and God deals with that in Psalm 82, but God refers to them as gods, meaning they have power. Not “the God”, but gods, little “g”, mighty men with tremendous responsibility in their lives. And Jesus says if these people are called gods who received the Word, little “g”, he’s trapping them is what he’s doing. ‘You’re saying I’m blasphemous because I’m saying I’m the Son of God. Now why would you do that? And look at the works that I do. If you’re going to stone me, I mean, look at the works. If you don’t believe what I say, look at the works, and if the works don’t testify that I’m from the Father, don’t believe in them. But if they do show you that I am from God, then believe in the works, and then in the Father, and then also believe in me.’ That is what he is saying. But he just healed a blind man. Repeatedly in the Gospels he does so many miracles, so many, and often people are in awe, they’re in wonder, they’re speechless at the miracles that he does, repeatedly. Well, he gets away, his time has not yet come, and then we finally read,
John the Baptist’s work bears fruit, ultimately
verses 40-42, “And he went away again beyond the Jordan into the place where John was baptizing first, and there he stayed.”---And it’s probably a little outside of Jerusalem, probably near the area of Jericho today, on the other side of the Jordan.---“And many came to him, and said ‘John performed no sign, but things that John spoke about this man were true. And many believed in him there.” Well there we see, maybe even the fruit of Elizabeth’s life, raising this man John the Baptist, this man pointed people to Jesus Christ. This man didn’t do any miracles, but the people that are there when Jesus goes out there, they say, ‘This man, I mean, John didn’t do any miracles, and man, we followed him. But this man, what he does is so amazing, he must be the Christ, he must be the Messiah. So they believed in him, and they followed him. Well, that is John chapter 10. Let’s say a word of prayer together…[transcript of a sermon given on John chapter 10 somewhere in New England.]