June 22, 2003

For Entrance and Guidance

Preacher: Randy Smith Series: John Scripture: John 10:7–21


For Entrance and Guidance

John 10:7-21
Sunday, June 22, 2003
Pastor Randy Smith

The fire started about 11 p.m. on February 20 at The Station nightclub. Video shot in the club shows the pyrotechnics display of 1980s rock band Great White igniting soundproofing material behind the stage. West Warwick Fire Chief Charles Hall said the racing fire engulfed the wooden structure in less than three minutes. He said three exits in addition to the front doors had battery-powered exit lights, but the people couldn't see them.

Exactly 100 people perished in the worst fire disaster in Rhode Island because they were unable to find the door, their entrance to life and because they lacked the proper guidance during this time of mass confusion.

The spiritual realm is not much different. The greatest American theologian, Jonathan Edwards, once said, "O sinner, consider the fearful danger you are in! It is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, full of the fire of wrath that you are held over in the hand of that God whose wrath is provoked and incensed as much against you as against many of the damned in hell. You hang by a slender thread, with the flames of divine wrath flashing about it and ready every moment to singe it, and burn it asunder; and you have no interest in any Mediator, and nothing to lay hold of save yourself, nothing to keep off the flames of wrath, nothing of your own, nothing that you have done, nothing that you can do, to induce God to spare you one moment…And now you have an extraordinary opportunity, a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands calling, and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners" (From the sermon: "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God"-July 8, 1741).

Every unredeemed human being is only one breath away from suffering eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire. Whether they realize it or not, the Bible teaches that their sins have offended a holy God. The Bible teaches that they have no hope to save themselves from this awful predicament. Yet the Bible teaches that God has made a provision. That God has covered sins by sending Jesus Christ to the cross. That whosoever expresses true faith in the Person and work of Christ will be saved from this fiery inferno. Like Edwards said, "(This is) a day wherein Christ has thrown the door of mercy wide open, and stands calling, and crying with a loud voice to poor sinners."

The sermon this morning is about Jesus Christ. He is the Door to heaven and He is the Guide, the Good Shepherd who leads us from damnation to the green pastures of abundant life.

By way of review, last week (in verses 1-5) we examined two metaphors: sheep and shepherds. Both are related to each other and both are well known to the average first century Palestinian. You will recall that sheep are timid, stubborn, defenseless, easily frightened, lacking intelligence, high maintenance and henceforth dependent on outside assistance. Biblically speaking, sheep are often a common metaphor to represent humans. Shepherds were responsible to guide and provide for the sheep. They had a serious responsibility, but their relationship with the sheep was one of intimacy. The shepherd would call each sheep by name and gently go before the flock and protect the flock with his life. The sheep were content when around their shepherd, knowing that the shepherd always had their best interests in mind.

The verses under consideration this morning are basically an expansion and explanation of the material we studied last week. Jesus Christ will take two terms from the industry of shepherding that we learned last week and apply them to Himself. Namely, Jesus Christ is the Door, and Jesus is the Good Shepherd for the sheep.

1. "I AM THE DOOR OF THE SHEEP" (10:7-10)

Let's begin the first point with verse 7. "So Jesus said to them again, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.'"

People often get confused reading verse 7 because they try to stay consistent with the metaphors. Last week we learned that true shepherd was permitted entrance through the door into the sheepfold by the doorkeeper (verses 2-3). In that story, Jesus represented the True Shepherd. However in this story, Jesus now represents the door itself. In verses 7 he declares, "I am the door of the sheep."

A woman (Eva Watts) traveling with her friend in Israel made this observation. "We reached a high ridge overlooking the village of Bethlehem. There we found a sheepfold, and went right in to inspect. It was not long before the owner appeared-a veteran, like Moses, with a long beard." "This is your sheepfold?" my friend asked. "Aye." "And is this where the sheep sleep," pointing to a rough shelter thrown up against the rock in a corner. He nodded. "But you've no gate to the fold; how do you close them up at night?" The old man looked at us as if we ought to have known better. "I am the door," he said with emphasis; and, gathering his loose robe tight about his ankles, he was down in a moment, squatting in the doorway, back against one post, feet against the other, his knees drawn up and clasped by his weather-beaten old hands. Gently he bowed his head and closed his eyes, as many a time he had closed them to catch a few hours sleep under the starlight. "I am the door," he repeated. "I keep watch here at night. If thieves or wild beasts attempt to enter, they have to tackle me first. I have never lost a lamb from the fold yet."

Two implications naturally arise if the shepherd is the door. First of all, there is one and only one way into the safe confines of the pen. Only those sheep that pass through the door or in this case pass through the Shepherd belong to Him. Additionally, the sheep in the pen are protected and kept by the Shepherd. Both of these images are true in the spiritual realm as well.

One must pass through Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd to enter the sheep-pen of salvation. Jesus made this clear in verse 6 of chapter 14 when He said, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." Jesus Christ is the only door to salvation. The Apostle Peter confirmed this fact in the book of Acts. "And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved" (Ac. 4:12). Even in verse 9 of chapter 10 Jesus again reiterates this point. "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me (emphatic position), he will be saved."

But if Jesus is the only way and only door to salvation, what about the others who claim to provide a door for eternal life? Verse 8 says they are "thieves and robbers." What is their intent? Verse 10, "Only to steal and kill and destroy."

Some of you might be saying, "Wait a minute, let me get this right. Are you claiming that the Jesus Christ is the only way to eternal life whereby all other religious systems are wrong? If so, that's the epitome of arrogance and narrow thinking." You see, in this postmodern pluralistic world in which we live the cardinal sin is claiming to have the absolute truth. Claiming to have our own personal truth is acceptable so long as we don't tell others that their truth is invalid. Well, I'm going to break that rule. I'm here to tell you what the Bible says, and the Bible says that Jesus Christ is the only way to the Father. You say, "How can you be so sure, prove it to me!"

I'm glad you asked! Here are three reasons, all found in chapter 10. First of all, Jesus said it! You'll remember verse 4 taught us that Christ's sheep hear His voice. I've already referenced many passages in the Scriptures, the voice of the Shepherd Himself, which make this claim. As His sheep, we are not in the business of picking and choosing which passages we prefer to hear and believe. As His sheep, we must trust the voice of the Shepherd. Second, of all the religious leaders, only Jesus gave up His life in a sacrificial sense to atone for our sin. As a matter of fact, He mentions it four times in the span of eight verses. Verse 11b, "The good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." Verse 15b, "I lay down My life for the sheep." Verse 17a, "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life." Verse 18a, "No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative." The Scriptures state, "All (human beings) have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). None of us can reach a holy God based upon our own merit. We need a substitute. We need someone who lived the perfect life to die in our place. Jesus and only Jesus is that Person. Third, only Jesus Christ conquered Satan, sin and death by rising on the third day. Do you know what's common about every other religious figure? They're still in the grave, but we know Jesus isn't. He was victorious. We're familiar with the resurrection account in chapter 20, but in this chapter, Jesus predicted it! Verse 17, "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I make take it up again." Verses 18b, "I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again." So salvation is exclusively found in Jesus Christ, but it is inclusively available to "whoever believes in Him" (Jn. 3:16).

Let me show you something else. It's interesting that the verb "saved" in verse 9 is in the passive voice. Every world religion has people thinking that they can achieve favor in God's sight by living according to some prescribed standard. It is only Christianity that claims man is unable to achieve salvation on his own. The Bible teaches that salvation is accomplished only by Christ's work and our entering into His work by faith.

Additionally, the verb "saved" in verse 9 is also in the future tense. This means that those in Christ can be confident that they will enter heaven upon death not because of their own merit, but because Christ has forgiven all their sins. In other words, they have been saved from future damnation.

However, salvation is also a present reality. Naturally, if the shepherd is the door, there is an element of protection for the sheep already in the pen. The shepherd guards the sheep inside and provides only the best for their welfare. Jesus ends verse 9 by saying, "And (they) will go in and out and find pasture."

Now this does not mean that once we come to Christ for salvation that He becomes a "get out of jail free" card whereby we have our guaranteed "fire insurance" and then may come "in and out" of His will at personal choice. That's not enjoying a present salvation! On the contrary, this means that upon coming to Christ we experience the new life He has given to us by joyfully depending on Him and clinging to Him as our Good Shepherd. We desire to remain in the center of His will knowing the supreme good He intends for His sheep. Just as the faithful shepherd leads his sheep beside still and refreshing waters and protects them from poisonous plants and predators and provides for them abundant food, Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd leads His obedient sheep to the rich pastures of life (or as it says so profoundly in verse 10), abundant life. Now that's enjoying present salvation!

What more could we ask for? Those who come through Him will enjoy present eternal life, abundant life in His pastures the second they believe and future eternal life guaranteed with Him in heaven the second they die. Many other religious leaders have made similar claims, but their demands are burdensome and their promises futile. Theses sheep stealers have been Satan's greatest tool to deceive the flock of humanity and lead them away from the Good Shepherd.

2. "I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD" (10:11-18)

In verses 7-10, Jesus boldly declares that He is the door. Now in the following verses, specifically verses 11 and 14, Jesus boldly declares that He is the Good Shepherd (a title that belonged exclusively to God alone). Last week I gave you five observations that describe our Good Shepherd. Let me encourage you this week with three more

The Good Shepherd dies for the Sheep (vs. 11-13, 17-18)

First of all, the Good Shepherd dies for the sheep. Look at verses 12 and 13 with me. "He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep."

I think these verses are fairly self-explanatory. Only the owner of the sheep has an invested interest in the flock. The hired hand will merely perform the duties required to receive his paycheck. He will feed the sheep and lead the sheep but the moment danger arises that threatens his life, he's out of there! No monetary amount is worth risking his neck for the safety of a few dirty and stubborn animals.

Possibly you can remember the days when mom or dad would give you fifty cents to wash the family cars. Often you'd probably do just enough to meet your parent's expectations to get the money. However, remember when you got your own first set of wheels? You were polishing the inside of the trunk of that 1980 Chevy Chevette! Why? Because there was a commitment; there was a pride of ownership.

In the same way, the good shepherd knows his sheep. He owns them. And as verse 11 declares, he was prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice of love. "(He) lays down His life for the sheep." A shepherd was only good if he risked his life in the defense of his sheep.

Now, this imagery obviously points to Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd who laid His life down for the flock. However, in this great comparison, there are two distinct points of contrast. First, although a shepherd should be praised for his heroic efforts, the death of a shepherd was the worse thing imaginable for the flock. Without the protection of a shepherd, the entire flock was vulnerable to predator attacks or aimless wandering. But the death of Jesus Christ did just the opposite. We celebrate the day calling it "Good Friday!" It defeated the enemy and eventually (Zech 13:7) brought cohesiveness to the flock (Jn. 12:32) that had been mishandled and misguided so long by hirelings (Zech. 11:17).

Second, no shepherd ever intended to lay down his life. If an animal or robber sought to harm the flock, the shepherd was prepared to risk his life for the safety of the flock. You'll recall David's victories when he defeated a lion and a bear as he shepherded his father's sheep as a young child (1 Sa. 17:24-25). A shepherd was brave, but his goal was to stay alive. But in Jesus' case, His death for the flock was intended. Look at verse 17, "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it again. Look at verse 18, "No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father.

We must always remember that even though evil men murdered Jesus, it was His intention all along out of the compulsion of His wondrous love to die for the sheep. In Acts 2:23, Peter proclaimed, "This Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death." In chapter 4 the Apostles prayed, "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur" (Ac. 4:27-28). In all the darkness and confusion of the Passion Week, Jesus emerges as the One in complete control. Though He could have called down twelve legions of angels (Mt. 26:53) at Calvary, everything happened according to the exact specification of the predetermined plan of God.

As I mentioned earlier, the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ was necessary for our salvation. It was the Father's plan that the Son would lay down His life and provide atonement and redemption for His sheep. Many might give their own life for a cause or an attempt to exemplify love. But Christ's voluntary death on the cross, unmerited and undeserved on our part, was a God-ordained, love-driven sacrifice to remove sin. Jesus was in total control as he laid His life down for His flock or as verse 11 says, "The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."

The Good Shepherd Knows His Sheep (vs. 14-15)

The second point is the Good Shepherd knows His sheep.

We just witnessed Christ demonstrating the most extreme form of love for His sheep by laying down His life on their behalf (Eph. 5:2; 25). Now in verses 14-15 we will witness the Good Shepherd's knowledge of His sheep. "I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep."

In verse 14 Jesus says He knows His own. Like the good shepherd who calls his sheep by name (verse 3), Jesus Christ is personally acquainted with each of His sheep. He knows His own. 2 Timothy 2:19 confirms, "Nevertheless, the firm foundation of God stands, having this seal, 'The Lord knows those who are His." The Greek word for "know" is ginosko. The word implies an intimate and loving fellowship based upon experience.

This love relationship is mutual. Verses 14 concludes, "And My own know (ginosko) Me." Let me ask you beloved, do you have that kind of relationship with Jesus Christ? Do you know about Him or do you really know Him? Is He your "first love" (Rev. 2:4)? Does He receive "first place in everything" (Col. 1:18)? Is the beautiful intimacy of the shepherd/sheep relationship that we learned about last week demonstrated in your relationship with your Good Shepherd? Is your knowledge of Him growing as you consistently and frequently listen to Him through the Scriptures and commune with Him in prayer?

You say, "I never knew my relationship with Christ could be that intimate." Oh yes! If you are one of His sheep, He knows you more than you could ever imagine and He wants you to know Him more than you ever dreamed of. How intimate should this relationship be? Verse 15, "Even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father" (c.f. Mt. 11:27). That's how intimate! The mutual knowledge that the Father and the Son have for each other is the model for the mutual knowledge that Christ our Shepherd and we His sheep have for each other.

Christ is looking for an unwavering and undivided allegiance. I've met many professing Christians (whether they are saved or not I'll leave up to the Lord) who think that coming to Christ is synonymous with a fire on a cold winter's night or a shoulder to cry on when you are hurt or a book to explore and study or an activity to attend on Sunday morning. And to that Jesus would say, "I do not want to be your fire, or you shoulder, or you book or you activity. Rather, I want to be your Lord and I want to be your life!" "If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me" (Lk. 9:23). Salvation and the abundant life that follows salvation only come when we let ourselves go and cast ourselves wholeheartedly into the loving arms of Christ. The love and the knowledge of Christ are related. It's natural that the more we love an object, the more our knowledge of that object will increase. And the more our knowledge of an object increases, the more our love of that object will increase (Phil. 1:9). If you are in Christ Jesus this morning, the Good Shepherd knows you. How well do you know Him?

The Good Shepherd Cares for All His Sheep (vs. 16)

The Good Shepherd dies for His sheep. The Good Shepherd knows His sheep. And finally, the Good Shepherd cares for all His sheep. Verse 16, "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will hear My voice; and they will become one flock with one shepherd."

If the "fold" Jesus was speaking of referred to the sheep He was calling out of Judaism, the "other sheep" must naturally be a reference to the Gentiles. Jesus said His mission was to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mt. 15:24). However, verse 16 is the first reference that Jesus speaks of the wider scope of His ministry to reach the entire world (Jn. 11:51-52). In verse 16 He says, "I have other sheep" which suggests a committed ownership (c.f. Ac. 18:9-10). In verse 16 He says, "I must bring them also" which suggests a divine necessity. In verse 16 He says, "They will hear My voice" which suggests an irresistible call (c.f. Ac. 13:48). In verse 16 He says, "And they will become One flock with One Shepherd" which suggests an profound unity.

Overall, the call of Christ now goes out to His sheep scattered all over the world in the proclamation of the gospel (Jn. 17:20). Those sheep that are His will hear His voice and run to their Shepherd. They will be male and female, old and young, poor and rich, white collar and blue collar, black and white, Jew and Gentile. They will be incorporated into one flock with one Shepherd, Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). Jesus will take diverse members from society, people who would have no desire to fellowship with each other in a million years and make them brothers and sisters, members of His body, one in Him. And Jesus will value them and love them and justify them all the same. And most of all He will boast how the cross is able to bring unity out of such diversity (Eph. 2:14-16).

The evidence is reliable. The plan is glorious. The promise is divine and the call is clear. But how did His original audience respond? Beginning in verses 19, "A division occurred again among the Jews because of these words. Many of them were saying, 'He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?' Others were saying, 'These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he'" (Jn. 10:19-20)? As we have witnessed so often, the crowd was again divided over the words of Christ, and neither group expressed true faith in Jesus.

Phillip Keller is a Christian author who spent eight years of his life as a sheep owner and sheep rancher. In his books he wonderfully explains these biblical narratives based upon his own experiences. As I was reading his books this week one section in particular gripped my interest as a fitting conclusion to this message.

"What a remarkable portrait this is of our Lord, laying down His life for His sheep. He feeds them; He leads them gently; He gathers them up in His strong arms; He carries them close to His heart.

(All of this) to Him is an endless source of satisfaction. He looks upon the outpouring of His life, the travail of His soul, the generous giving of Himself repaid and returned in the sons and daughters brought to glory. Men and women, retrieved from their utter lostness…are restored to the grandeur of wholesome godliness and new life in Him.

Often as I let my mind wander back to the great storms and blizzards that we went through on my ranches I recall scenes full of pathos and power. Again and again I would come home to our humble cottage with two or three tint forlorn, cold lambs bundled up against my chest. They would be wrapped up within the generous folds of my big, rough wool jacket. Outside hail, sleet, snow and chilling rain would be lashing my face and body. But within my arms the lambs were safe and sure of survival.

Part of the great compensation for enduring the blizzards, fighting the elements, and braving the storms was to pick up lost lambs. And as I picked them up I realized in truth I was taking up my own life again in them; my life that had been expended freely, gladly on their behalf.

It is as I am found in (Christ) that He, too, revels and rejoices in my being found. No wonder there is such rejoicing in heaven over one lost soul who is brought home.

Sad to say, many of Jesus' hearers did not and could not understand. In fact, they went so far as to say He was insane" (Keller, A Shepherd Looks at the Good Shepherd and His Sheep, 395-396)

My friend let me ask you, is your response any different? Or rather have you come to know Jesus as the Door of salvation and the Good Shepherd of your heart?

other sermons in this series

May 9


The Priority of A Disciple

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: John 21:18–25 Series: John

May 2


From Fishermen To Shepherds

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: John 21:15–17 Series: John

Apr 25


Fishing For Men

Preacher: Randy Smith Scripture: John 21:1–14 Series: John