I assure you that whoever doesn’t enter into the sheep pen through the gate but climbs over the wall is a thief and an outlaw. The one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The guard at the gate opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. Whenever he has gathered all of his sheep, he goes before them and they follow him, because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger but will run away because they don’t know the stranger’s voice.” Those who heard Jesus use this analogy didn’t understand what he was saying. So Jesus spoke again, “I assure you that I am the gate of the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and outlaws, but the sheep didn’t listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out and find pasture. The thief enters only to steal, kill, and destroy. I came so that they could have life—indeed, so that they could live life to the fullest.
Let’s talk about doors. That’s what Jesus really says here, “I am the door.” Translators uses the word “gate” because it better fits with the whole “sheep” and “pasture” thing.
Let’s take this building for example – I can’t even count the number of doors we’ve got in here! There are standard wooden doors, glass doors, big sanctuary doors, little doors, wide doors, narrow doors. Doors take many shapes and sizes. Doors separate “inside” from “outside;” doors control who passes between.
Jesus uses that image, of “in” and “out,” but it terms of sheep being “in” or “out” of the pasture. He is the gate that allows passage.
We, in our own, controlling way, tend to picture Jesus as a “locked door.” He only opens to those who have the right “key.” That key changes from church to church or culture to culture. For most of us, that “key” has a name – “salvation.” Like he says, “whoever enters through me will be saved.”
Then, there are some who add an extra layer of security, another “key.”
- A certain belief
- A political point of view
- A certain stance on social issues
- How much money we make
- Who we love
- What kind of clothes we wear
- The color of our skin
I don’t know about sheep, but we humans like to congregate with other humans who are like us. We prefer to surround ourselves with others who don’t really challenge us, or expand our horizons. It’s more comfortable that way; we’d just like to stand over here and graze, too much challenge gives us indigestion.
Yeah. Yeah. We know, “Jesus is the door,” but let’s be real. Some of us see Jesus more like a “bouncer,” or a security guard – keeping out, or throwing out, all the “undesirables.”
We miss one, little thing though – “whoever.”
“I am the gate. Whoever enters through me will be saved.” (John 10:9)
We think Jesus’ door has a heavy lock; we are constantly reminded by some of our Christian brothers and sisters that “Jesus is the only way.” That’s true, but we forget that Jesus says “whoever enters through me will be saved.”
We don’t get to “pick and choose” who is “in” or “out” of the pasture – Jesus does. And he says whoever believes in him can come in. Isn’t that what Jesus says to Nicodemus in the “world’s favorite Bible verse” (John 3:16)? “Whosoever believeth in me . . .”
All who enter the sheepfold through Jesus are saved; not just the ones we like, or the ones we understand, or who look like us, or act like us, or love the way we love. Whoever comes to the faith through Jesus will be saved. They will “find pasture.” They will be cared for and nurtured by Christ, the Good Shepherd.
That one word, whoever, just may be Jesus’ most grace-filled word!