Door of the Sheep

13th study in the series on the ‘Names of Christ’
adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on
19 Oct 2007

“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).

John 10 is famous for our Lord’s teaching that He is the Good Shepherd of the flock. But this chapter actually contains 2 of our Lord’s 7 Great ‘I am’ sayings in the book of John.

In the rest of the book, we have the Lord declaring:

·  “I am the Bread of Life” (Jn 6:35).

·  “I am the light of the world” (Jn 8:12);

·  “I am the resurrection, and the life” (Jn 11:25);

·  “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn 14:6);

·  “I am the true vine” (Jn 15:1).

In John 10, the Lord says:

·  “I am the door of the sheep” (Jn 10:7);

·  “I am the good shepherd” (Jn 10:11);

In this study, we want to consider the Lord as the door of the sheep as part of our brief study in the names of Christ.

Let us begin, as usual, by looking at the context and meaning of our Lord’s pronouncement.

1. The Context & Meaning

The Lord says:

7 Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep.

And again:

9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

There were different kinds of sheepfolds in Palestine. Sheepfolds were designed to keep sheep in during the night so that they might not be attacked by wild animals or stolen by thieves.

Some were permanent enclosures with a roof and stone walls. These would usually have a gate and a gatekeeper or a porter.

Others were temporary. These would often have thorn branches rather than rocks or bricks for walls. And there would usually be no gate. Instead the shepherd would sleep across the door so that if any wild animal tries to attack the sheep, it must first fight the shepherd.

In this chapter, our Lord seems to be referring to both the permanent and the temporary sheepfolds.

He begins by talking about the permanent sheepfold. This sheepfold has a porter. And it may hold more than one flock of sheep at one time. The shepherds may leave their flock of sheep in the sheepfold while they go home to refresh themselves.

But although there is a gate, theft was a common problem. Thieves would often climb over the walls to steal the sheep. The Lord Jesus says that he is the shepherd. He does not climb over the wall. The flock of sheep in the sheepfold belongs to him. The porter recognises him and opens the gate for him. And he calls his sheep by name and he leads them out.

Now, for some reason, those who heard the Lord did not quite understand what He was saying (v. 6). Could it be that where our Lord was preaching, the use of permanent sheepfold was not so common?

Perhaps for this reason, our Lord appears to switch metaphor to speak about the temporary sheepfold. Here he speaks of his love for his sheep by painting himself as a shepherd lying across the opening of the sheepfold. “I am the door of the sheep” he says.

Like the dedicated shepherd looking after his sheep, He lies across the opening of the sheepfold. He becomes the door of the sheep.

Well, a door serves three functions. We have a door in our home to allow us to enter into a place of rest and refuge. And the door also serves to keep the lambs and wandering sheep in; and the wolves out.

So it is in the case of the shepherd lying across the entrance of his sheepfold to act as a door.

He guides the sheep into the sheepfold to rest, and keeps them in the safety of his oversight. If the sheep wants to go out, it must pass him first, and he will only let them out when it is safe. And on the other hand, if a wild beast would try to attack his sheep, it must first attack him.

These three functions of the door are referred to by our Lord.

First, our Lord speaks of how he is a door for the sheep to enter into rest:

9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved…

Christ, in other words, is the lone Saviour and Protector of his sheep and lambs.

The sheep and lambs outside the fold are in great danger constantly. They are in danger of falling prey to the ancient serpent whose diet is the souls of men. They are in danger of falling over the precipice into the lake of fire where they would not only drown but burned forever and ever in the wrath of God.

Christ is the door of his sheep. His sheep who hears His voice and enters the fold through Him will be saved. They will have rest from sin and Satan and the wrath to come.

Secondly, our Lord speaks of how He is a door to allow the sheep to come in and out:

9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.

Once the sheep has entered into the sheepfold, Christ feeds them and protects them. He takes charge of them. He takes a responsibility over them beyond what He would do when they are out in the field.

He protects them with His Word, with His Spirit dwelling in them, with His under-shepherds, and indeed with His sovereign providential power.

He will not allow them to stray into danger that will ultimately harm them. Sometimes He allows them to be hurt that they may learn precious lessons, such as lessons of humility. But it is always for their ultimate good.

The Life of the sheep in His fold are regulated by His love.

But thirdly, our Lord speaks of the enemies of the sheepfold:

8 All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them.

The Lord was referring to the Scribes and Pharisees that were before him. They were sparing no effort to steal sheep from Christ’s sheepfold to make them twice the hypocrites that they themselves were. They were the enemies of the sheep.

Today we continue to have many enemies. There will be false teachers and those who would destroy the church. Paul speaks of them as wolves in sheep skin and demons disguised as angels of light.

For Satan, we must remember is the chief enemy of the church. He will, by all means, try to infiltrate the church to destroy her from within if possible.

Thank God for the assurance that the Christ is the door of the sheep. He would not allow the enemies of the church to enter in without His permission.

Christ is the door of the sheep. He provides us an entrance into everlasting rest. He oversees us in our Christian walk and He protects us from our enemies.

2. What is this to Us?

Let us consider three applications according to the three functions of a door— entrance into rest, protection against enemies, and prevention of wandering.

a. First of all, let us thank God for the entrance into salvation and life that the Lord Jesus grants us. He is the door of the sheep into the kingdom of God. We could not have by ourselves entered into that door for the Lord says elsewhere:

“Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (Jn 3:3).

Thank God for His grace by which he brought us into the door of the sheepfold. Thank God for opening our eyes that we could see the door. Thank God for opening our ears that we could hear the voice of the shepherd and so led into the fold.

Let us pray that the Lord will help us never to loose sight of this privilege of salvation that Christ has given us; for it is he who lead us there and opened the door for us. Let us therefore seek to live gratefully for Him.

b. Secondly, let us thank God for the protection that our Lord provides us as our door.

Like sheep and lambs, believers are actually very vulnerable if left to themselves. The enemies of sheep and lambs are thieves, wolves, bears, lions and even little foxes.

The sheep and lamb of the church have similar enemies. The devil like a lion is prowling about waiting to devour whom he may. Heretics like wolves in sheepskin are ready to infiltrate the church if they have the opportunity. Gossips and slanderers, like little foxes are ready to spoil the vine.

Thank God that our Shepherd cares. He would not allow the enemies of the flock to destroy His sheep. Yes, sometimes due to our own negligence, the Lord allows us to be afflicted for a season. But as soon as we realise how we have strayed and so come and hide behind our shepherd, our folly is forgotten and he tenderly binds up our wounds.

We can always count on him to protect us. As long as we are willing to submit to him, we shall find security in him as we would find security in our home behind the door.

This is true for us individually and it is true for us as a church. When we walk in holiness and obedience individually, the Lord gives us wisdom and strength to resist all temptations that may lead us into spiritual dangers. When we walk as a church according to the principles and instructions given to us by our shepherd, we shall be shielded from attacks of the devil and his cohorts.

Thank God that Christ is the Door of the Sheep, protecting us from the attacks of our enemies.

c. But thirdly, let us thank God that as the Door of the Sheep Christ keep us in the fold. He keeps us in the fold in 3 senses of the word.

·  First, he would not allow anything to separate us from the love of God that is in Him. He says:

“My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand” (John 10:29).

All true believers will persevere unto the end.

·  Secondly, he protects us from temptation. By His Spirit working in us to remind us of His Word, he prevents us from going out of the world to seek the gratification of the flesh by which we would sin against God.

Rather He keeps us safe and happy so that we may enjoy God and work out our salvation with gratitude and love until the days when he shall make us perfect.

·  Thirdly, He protects us by keeping us within the sheepfold that is the church local. We seldom think of this as a privilege, but I believe that membership in a true local church of Christ is indeed a privilege. And I believe it is a privilege when the church refuses to allow members to stray away easily—for Christ is the door of the sheep. The under-shepherds of Christ who have the heart of Christ will not say of a straying sheep—“Just let him go, why bother to keep him back.”

As Christ is the door to the sheep, so the under-shepherds must serve as door-keepers. A church for which members can freely come in and out even to the detriment of their souls is straying away from Christ.

Members of the church must understand that the elders are not trying to be difficult when they are reluctant to let the members leave. They are merely seeking to be obedient to their calling as under-shepherd. Let us understand that a door may restrict movement in some ways, but it actually provides true freedom.


“I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9).

Christ is the door of the sheep. Thank God that through him we may be saved from the wrath to come. Thank God that we are protected from our enemies. Thank God that we are protected from ourselves—for we are prone to wonder.

When you are suffering trials in this life, beloved brethren and children, remember that you have entered the door and Christ is watching over you in love.

When you are faced with assaults and temptations upon your soul, remember to turn to your shepherd who is the door of the sheep for he alone can keep you safe.

When you are tempted to wander from the fold remember that Christ is the door of the sheep and thank God for every obstacle that he places in your way to keep you from wandering. May the Lord help us. Amen.

—JJ Lim