A Voice in the
"Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep...I am the door. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture...I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep...I am the Good Shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own...My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never ever perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one has the power to snatch them out of My Father's hand. I and My Father are One."
What is a door? A gate? Typical houses are constructed of solid walls. If a person wishes to get in, they must enter through one of the specially-designed -openings-. The openings are called "doors". In the imagery Jesus uses of the shepherd and sheep, sheep are also corraled within fences. The openings to corrals are "gates". If a person walks towards a house, not aiming for the door, they are going to go "bonk!" as they hit the solid wall. A sheep running into the fencing will catch its snout and yank its head around. If you want to get into the house/corral, the prescribed path is through the door/gate.
Jesus says, "I KNOW My sheep.." (vs14) From what I have seen of sheep ranching in this country, typically, sheep are herded and 'driven' from one place to another. Sheep are tagged and become data in the rancher's database. But in other countries, and in previous times, I understand that shepherds would 'lead' their sheep, by their playing of pipes and/or their voice. Jesus says, "My sheep hear My voice...and they follow Me" (vs27) While we, as sheep, may sometimes be confused as to who is 'sheep' and who is not, the "solid foundation of God stands firm, having this seal: the Lord -KNOWS- those who are His.." (2Tim2:19)
Notice also that the Shepherd is "known -by- [His] own". (vs14) Sheep who belong to the Shepherd "follow" the Shepherd. (vs27) Sheep do not follow strangers...because they do not know the stranger's voice. (vs5) A stranger can call, but the sheep will ignore them; they do "not hear them." (vs8)
I've used this illustration before, but it fits here again. When I was a lad, my family lived a couple years on the farm with my uncle, who also had some sheep. Every morning my uncle would go out to the sheep, carrying a bucket with oats in it, and would call out to them, "Come sheeeeep! Come sheeeep!" And they would begin bleating, and come towards him en-mass, and crowd around him. Of course, they wanted the grain. But they also recognized his voice. If he needed to corral them, he could call to them. But if my dad or I were 'helping' him, the only way we could get them to go the desired direction was to get behind them and 'shoo' them. On a couple of occasions, when nobody else was around, as I might be near their fence, I would call out as my uncle would, "Come sheeep!" But they would pay me NO MIND. I was not their shepherd. They did not 'know' my voice. To them, I was a "stranger".
So, let's bring this to spiritual terms. These words right here are to fellow-Believers. Dear Believer: you and I both know our Savior, don't we. There is a "witness" of the Holy Spirit in our lives. (Rom8:16) When True Believers are together there (already) -is- a "oneness" in Christ, for which He prayed. (Jn17) We are not seeking to 'create' a unity, because Christ already made it when He purchased and redeemed us with His own blood. (Heb9:12, 1Pet1:19, Rev1:5) So, there already is love for the brethren. (1Jn2:10, 3:14) If the love isn't there, it's a sure sign that 'somebody' is not a true "sheep". But the love is there because we are following the same Shepherd.
Now... as we are exhorted to be "wise as serpents" (Mt10:16), and are watching out for pretenders; if we see something that looks like 'sheep', but we see them following a -different- "shepherd" than the One we know who redeemed us with His own blood, judging by -whom- they are following, we know they are not sheep. Remember, Jesus said that nobody can "serve two masters". (Mt6:24) If those so-called "sheep" are following a different shepherd... a different voice (a different gospel which Paul calls "accursed" -Gal1:8-9)... we can know, WITH CERTAINTY, that they are not true Sheep. Notice how John reviews the matter: "You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are of the world. Therefore they speak of the world, and the world hears them. We are of God. He who knows God hears us; he who is not of God does not hear us. By this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." (1Jn4:4-6) Remember we are CHRIST-ians, because we follow Jesus Christ. But not everyone who calls themselves "Christians" are. Not all Israel was Israel. (Rom9:6) Not everyone who proclaims, "Lord, Lord" is getting into Heaven. (Mt7:21) And the True Sheep can have a pretty good idea of who those are, by observing what sort of shepherd they are following.
So, how does one become a sheep? How does one get into the sheep fold? Obviously... through the door/gate. And where is that door? Some modern buildings are sometimes confusing, especially, ones made with lots of glass. When the windows are glass, and the doors are glass, if one is not paying attention, one has trouble finding the door. One of my customers had me make special logos to put on some glass 'window' areas, because some people were walking into the windows and hurting themselves. Some architecture that uses an arch-type of construction, often the doors are built into the shape of one of those arch-ways. From a distance one might look at such a building and not know which was an arch, and which was the door.
On Public TV every once in awhile I catch little bits of this artist who does an entire painting on camera, explaining what he does as he goes along. He paints "happy little" things here and there. He decides he wants a building in the middle of his landscape... a few brush strokes later and Voila! there's the building. If he wants a door in that building, some more paint colors, brush, and "see how easy that is?"
But... can anybody go 'through' such a door? No. It's not a real door. It's an "illusion" of a door, by manipulating paint colors on a canvas. If somebody were to decorate one of those non-door archways of the above-mentioned building, to look like a door; or hang a bead-curtain in front of it; and a person comes along full-speed thinking to enter the building, what is going to happen? Bonk! There is only -one- 'real' door. If a person wishes to enter the building, one must enter through the door. If the person sees the inside of the shopping mall store, but tries to walk in someplace other than the 'open' doorway, they are going to "Bonk!" into the glass windows.
This seems like a 'simple' concept doesn't it. And we might laugh as we contemplate those "Bonk!"s appearing on the next edition of TV's "Funniest Videos", or something.
But when it comes to the matter of Entrance into Heaven, this is -precisely- what people do. They hang some hippy bead-curtains of "love and acceptance" in front of a wall here, or paint a "happy little" door on an "indication" of a building there. But they are all false.
People suppose that "all faiths" will get there. All a person needs to be, is a person "of faith". It doesn't matter, one can follow Mary, Allah, Buddha, mother earth, self-actualization, etc. But they are all various beads, indications and paintings. They are -not- 'real' doors!
Jesus says, "I am the door. If anyone enters through Me, he will be saved.." (vs9) Later He will be saying, "No one comes to the Father except through Me." (14:6) No, it doesn't even come through the one many claim was the "first pope", as they proclaim salvation through "-the- church" of Rome. This so-called "first pope" proclaimed about "Jesus Christ of Nazareth" that "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under Heaven given among men by which we need to be saved." (Acts4:10,12)
Jesus Christ is the -ONLY- WAY to Heaven! He "laid down His life" for the sheep. (vs11) His saving work is summed up, "Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and..He was buried, and..He was raised the third day according to the Scriptures." (1Cor15:3-4) The purchase of our salvation was "finished" on the cross. (Jn19:30) No further work, sacrifices or penances are required, because He did this "once for all" (Heb7:27, 9:12, 10:10); and our eternal life is guaranteed by His resurrection and raising us to "newness of life". (Rom6:4) And this salvation is something nobody or nothing can "snatch..out of His hand". (vs28-29) This is the "love of Christ" (Rom8:35), fulfilling God's "love" for the world (Jn3:16) which guarantees that NOTHING "shall be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom8:39) God is all-powerful. Thus, "If God is for us, who can be against us?" (Rom8:31)
All one has to do is... 'go-through-the-Door' ...Jesus Christ.
But also notice another property about doors. Certainly Jesus invites, "Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." (Mt11:28) But also realize that doors are designed to be, both, 'open' -and- 'shut'. Many people confuse Jesus Christ with the local -physical- 'building' or 'meeting-place' where Believers gather for worship, exhortation, teaching, doctrine, fellowship. They confuse a person coming through Christ for salvation, vs the unsaved coming through the doors yet-unsaved. When a person comes through Christ, they do not find themselves 'inside' yet-unsaved. Jesus changes a person and gives the "birth from above". (Jn3:3) If they came "through" Jesus, they are, genuinely, a "sheep". But today's "churches" are letting the goats and wolves in through the 'doors' of their 'building'. Catholicism teaches that salvation comes through "the church"; thus, people go "to church" (that building) where the priest pronounces his incantations and performs magic, changing wafers into something else (supposedly). And so, what-they-call "salvation" becomes an act of walking through the -physical- 'doors' of the building. And sadly, most non-catholic "christians" also have the same mentality, that a person must be invited through-the-doors of the 'building' so they can perform a ritual of "walking-down-the-aisle" to get saved. But this is a so-called "salvation" that is "some other way". (vs1)
Notice that "the doorkeeper opens" to the "shepherd of the sheep". (vs2-3) But when sheep are bedded down for the night, they are brought into the fold, and the doors are shut. Why? To keep the robbers and wolves "outside". "..outside are dogs and sorcerers and prostitutes and murderers and idolaters, and whoever loves and produces a lie." (Rev22:15) Paul warned that these "vicious wolves" would "come -IN- among" the flock. (Acts20:29) And how are they getting in? Incredibly, the so-called "sheep" are opening the doors to them! Or, some are coming in as "false brethren". They are "brought in" and come in "by stealth". (Gal2:4) And once they are in, just like the soldiers who entered Troy in the wooden horse, they come out, open the gates to let all the rest of the soldiers (wolves) in, who wreak havoc on the sheep.
Note this well, what Jesus labels them. Any who come by some other way, than through Himself, are "thieves and robbers". (vs1) They are -NOT- True Sheep, or true shepherds.
Notice that it is not for man to open doors that Jesus has shut. Jesus is the Door-keeper, "..who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens.." (Rev3:7) And notice also in that same context, He speaks of those who are "..of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie.." (vs9)
We are to keep the unclean out. When Christ has set up His millennial rule, and temple worship is re-established, one of the practices that will be corrected, God says, "And they shall teach My people the difference between the holy and the profane, and cause them to discern between the unclean and the clean." (Ezek44:23)
We need to keep straight -which- "doors" we are dealing with. We need to help guide people, and point them to -the- "Door", Jesus Christ, for salvation. But we need to learn to keep the door[s] of our meeting places shut against the wolves, lest they viciously devour the little lambs.