“I am the door for the sheep.” (John 10:7 NET)
For years I thought about this verse in the context of my American upbringing. Despite growing up on a large working farm and ranch, I still had little concept of what it actually meant to be a shepherd. When Jesus said he was the door for the sheep I just assumed that essentially meant that this statement was similar to the one he makes in John 14:6 “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the father except through me.” While this is true to the main concept of the point, Jesus’ audience would have understood this statement in a different way. Years later I read the following commentary which brought even more clarity to these words of Christ.
“After a shepherd’s flock has been separated from the other sheep, he takes them to pasture. Near the pasture is an enclosure for the sheep. The shepherd takes his place in the doorway or entrance and functions as a door or gate. The sheep can go out to the pasture in front of the enclosure, or if afraid, they can retreat into the security of the enclosure. The spiritual meaning is that Jesus is the only Gate by which people can enter into God’s provision for them.”
I later learned that it was common practice during the time of Christ for the shepherds to literally sleep in the opening of the pen his herd resided in. There was no gate other than the shepherd. The picture Jesus paints here is one that tells us that he is extremely invested in His herd. He is not “a gate” He is “the gate.” He is not “a way” He is indeed “the way.” Jesus is the good shepherd who lays His life down for His sheep. How special this makes me feel to contemplate the power of this fact. My savior is my protector in every situation, He is the gate! When the enemy approaches I need not prepare a defense but rather run to my defender. The same is true for all who believe and are children of our most loving father. Praise God for our good Shepherd! Praise Him this very day!
John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds. The Bible Knowledge Commentary: New Testament. Accordance electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1983), n.p.