“So Jesus again said to them, ‘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.’” John 10:7-8
1. Have you ever had to explain something that was complex to someone only to be met with a blank stare? Or have you ever been the one who was giving the blank stare? What was it that was being explained and were you the explainer or the one with confusion written all over your face?
Do not feel bad if you have experienced either of these scenarios. Constantly through the Gospels, those listening to Jesus could not understand the depths of His teachings. Also, Jesus was the greatest teacher to ever live and He had still had a degree of difficulty ensuring that people listening to Him understood what He was trying to teach. In the first five verses of John chapter 10, Jesus is trying to explain an amazing truth about who He was. “This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them” (John 10:6.) Luckily for us, there was a lack of understanding so Jesus breaks down one of His lessons into two amazing parts.
In John 10:7-8, we read, “So Jesus again said to them, ‘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.’”
Most people are not familiar with shepherding, let alone shepherding in the times of Jesus in the hills of Israel. Often Jesus used everyday examples to help people understand His teachings. In this case, Jesus uses sheep farming. Now in 2021, this concept may be lost on some of us, but in Jesus’ time, this idea of Jesus being the “Door of the sheep” would have been a concept easily grasped.
Shepherds would often make pens that only had one entrance. The door for the sheep pens was the shepherd himself. At night when the sheep and shepherds would rest, the shepherd would lay his body across the entrance. It was to keep the sheep in and to keep any threat out. The shepherd acted as the door for the sheep.
2. Who is Jesus referring to by “all who came before me?”
3. What distinct personality traits would you use for a thief and a robber?
4. How does Jesus being the door protect His sheep?
John 10:9 says, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”
5. What is the purpose of a door?
6. How does one enter this “Jesus door” and what is the reward? Why is that such an important idea to understand in light of doors offering us protection?
John 10:10 adds, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
7. What does a thief do? Why is it so crucial that Jesus says He is “the Door?”
John 10:10 brings some controversy to the Christian world. Jesus saying that He has come “that they may have life and have it abundantly” can create some very interesting theological viewpoints. To ignore the fact that Jesus said these words is equally as dangerous.
8. What do you think it means to “have life and have it abundantly?”
If we take everything in context, in order to know what having this “life and have it abundantly” means we have to look at what it means through the filter of Jesus’ proclamation that He is “the Door.” Jesus’ claim is more than just a fireproof piece of wood. By Jesus saying that He was a door was His claim to saying His willingness to lay down His life to protect His sheep in order for them to have life.
John 10:17-18 adds, “For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”
9. Why did Jesus lay His life down? What did Jesus ultimately protect us from?
Jesus did not lay His life down on the cross for our sins for us to receive our abundance of life from materialistic temporary things. The abundance of life that Jesus is talking about here is a life that is completely overflowing with a relationship with God.
10. What are some things that Jesus protects us from that cause us to lose sight of this abundance of life?
Sheep who wander off are popular enough to get songs written about them, but we seldom put the same emphasis on making sure a sheep understands and does not wander off in the first place. Christians at times live life like this. We are warned and taught to stay away from sin, to avoid being deceived by thieves, robbers and yet “we will go in and out” not to “find pasture” that Jesus has for us, but to find gratification for our flesh. In the beginning parts of this parable, the parts that were hard to understand, Jesus says, “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (John 10:5).
11. What influences do we tend to follow, and where do they lead us?
12. What is the best way to make sure you are in the pasture where Jesus is “the Door?”