Entering By the Door - John 10:1-10

Everybody wants the good life. We might have different ideas of exactly what the good life is, or where to find it, but everyone wants to live the good life rather than the bad life. We want a life that’s worthwhile, a life that we can enjoy. We don’t want a shriveled up husk of a life; we want more than just survival – we want an abundant life, one that abounds in joy and fruitfulness and purpose and fulfillment.

To the Jewish mind, that abundant life was centered on God, and so it meant living in the promised land, having access to the presence of God through His temple, and being a part of His covenant people. If you lost access to the courts of the Lord, or if you were cut off from the covenant people, then it didn’t matter how rich you were or how many children you had. You were living a cursed life, not an abundant life!

This meant that some of the most important people in Jewish life were the priests and scribes and Pharisees, who as teachers and rulers had authority over access to God, the temple, and the covenant community. They functioned as the gatekeepers of the good life – live according their standards, and the door to abundant life was open.

But happens if the shepherds abuse this authority over the sheep? What if thieves and robbers climb over the wall and start pretending to be shepherds? This is the issue that Jesus raises in John 10 because of what happens in John 9, where Jesus heals the man blind from birth on the Sabbath. In response to this healing, the Pharisees call Jesus a Sabbath-breaker, and cast the newly healed man out of the synagogue because of his faith in Jesus. In doing so, the Pharisees slam the door to abundant life in his face: he’s been ejected from the covenant community, and no longer considered a faithful Jew.

This is what causes Jesus to tell this harsh allegory about the Pharisees as thieves – they are not true shepherds, leading God’s people to life. They have stolen this man’s portion among God’s people, and by cutting him off from the synagogue, they’ve ended his spiritual life.

And the amazing thing is that even though the so-called shepherds have locked him outside the sheepfold and left him for dead on account of Jesus, this man clings to the fact that once he was blind, but now he can see! Here is a faithful sheep who hears the voice of the true shepherd. His pastors have told him that Jesus is a sinful heretic, and excommunicated him, but by the grace of God, he hears the shepherd’s voice, believes in Jesus, and receives abundant life.

So what does this mean for you? The central lessons are obvious: Jesus is the good shepherd; the door that leads to life. The encouragement is that sheep hear the voice of Jesus. If you listen to Him, you won’t be misled. You won’t wander into soul-killing error, or be devoured by wolves, or get taken advantage of by thieving fake shepherds.

The exhortation is that this takes effort. Jesus isn’t saying that if you listen well enough, you can become a sheep, but what’s implicit in His words is this call: since you are a sheep, act like a sheep and listen for the voice of your Shepherd! If you are carefully listening to Him all the time, you will instantly recognize His voice. But if you are careless and don’t pay much attention, then you will easily be led astray.

So as you hear this description of Jesus’ sheep, start acting like a sheep! Listen carefully and constantly to Jesus’ voice. This is why the habits of daily Bible reading and gathering with God’s people to hear God’s Word are so important, and the various Bible reading plans and challenges in our congregation are so wonderful.

As a sheep, you are called to listen to Jesus and follow your shepherd, but your security isn’t found in how good of a sheep you are. It comes from how good a shepherd you have, and so with the Lord as your shepherd, you need fear no evil, for Jesus is with you.

The whole reason Jesus came was so that He could save you, and lead you in and out among green pastures and beside quiet waters. So know the voice of your shepherd, and enter into the kingdom of life by Jesus the door. He came so that you might have life, and have it abundantly. Don’t pay attention to the voice of a stranger. Listen to Jesus, and enjoy the abundant life He gives.

Posted on Wednesday, May 06, 2020 by CJ Bowen