Tuesday, April 9, 2013

I AM the The Door

I AM the The Door


“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
 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.  I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.  
–– John 10:1-10

I AM the door. The word for door used here is θύρα - thura: this is translated as door, doors, entrance, gate or gate.  This is the third "ego eime" - I AM statement of Jesus. He again is clearly identifying Himself as the Messiah. This statement again angers the religious leaders of that day. The "I AM" alone, equates Jesus with the Old Testament name of God.

The shepherd and his sheep was a very common site at that time.  More common than Canadian Geese at our local parks and ponds. The shepherd was very important in Biblical times. It was an ancient vocation. Abel - Genesis 4:2 ; Abraham - Genesis 12:16 ; Rachel - Genesis 29:9 ; Jacob  - Genesis 30:31-40 ; Moses - Exodus 3:1 King David - 1 Samuel 16:11  The Bible mentions shepherds and shepherding more than 200 times. The sheep were raised mainly for their wool. Sheep were also used for food, sacrifices and milk Isaiah 7:21-22, but their main economic value came from their wool.

The sheep owner often tended the flocks himself.  If that was not possible, the work was delegated to his children or another relative. If the sheep were cared for by the owner or his family, they would more likely be better watched and taken care of.  If a hireling attended the sheep there was a greater possibility that the flocks would be neglected or abused.

The daily duties of a shepherd were very arduous.  The sheep were allowed to roam during the day to graze. Sheep move at their own pace and tend to wander away.   There is no real organization in the flock.  Early in the day the shepherd would lead the flock to the pasture. There the shepherd would watch the sheep all day.  If any of the sheep would wander away, the shepherd would have to diligently look for the stray sheep, and return him to the flock.  The sheep would have to be led to water at least once daily.  The shepherd would guide the sheep to some running stream or to wells dug in the wilderness and furnished with troughs.  If they were to drink from the stream, the running water would frighten the sheep.  The shepherd would have to quiet the water, perhaps with a temporary dam, so the sheep would drink the water.  The shepherd would have to work through the entire day.

At night the shepherd would lead the flock to a sheepfold.  The sheep would stay in the fold over the night for their protection. If the flock remained outside the sheep would be unprotected from dangers and they could wander away and harm themselves.  The shepherd remained with his sheep through the night.  A sheepfold was a corral for the sheep. A simple improvised sheepfold would sometimes made by the shepherd when he was a long distance from his home. This was a temporary sheepfold that could be taken down easily when it was time to move on to another location. This would be a simple fence is built of tangled thorn bushes. The shepherd sleep with their flocks lie down across the entrance to prevent the sheep from wandering away.

Generally the sheepfold was a flat opening into a court, which is surrounded by a stone wall. The top of the wall was covered by a layer of briers and thorns. The door was the only proper entrance to the sheepfold. The doorway was carefully guarded by one person, generally not by a shepherd.  In the verse above the word  gatekeeper is thyroros.  This word is translated as  a gate-warden — the one that kept the door, or porter (one who guards the portal). The guardian would only allow entrance only to the shepherd and his sheep.  These more permanent stone sheepfolds were large enough for several flocks of sheep.  Several shepherds would come in with their flock.  The sheep from each flock did not get lost or commingle with the sheep from another flock.  The sheep recognized their shepherd, and the shepherd recognized his sheep.

The only way into the safety of the sheepfold is through the door. Jesus is the only way into the safe haven of the fold.  The emphasis of this metaphor of the door is that there is only one way into the safety of the fold.  God has a sheepfold for His sheep. God has a mighty fortress for all His people. The entrance to the fortress is a door. Jesus that door. He is the only way.  Faith in Him is the only way to enter the kingdom of God.  In today's world of pluralism, that statement of exclusivism is offensive to many.  There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people, and we must be saved by it.  Acts 4:12  It is amazing that God has given us any way at all. We are sinful and arrogant in thinking that we deserve any entrance into the sheepfold.  Not only do we demand to enter His safety, we demand that we can choose any door, any way we want.  But God in His mercy has given us A Way.  He has given us The Door.  Jesus is The Way.

Jesus, as we will read in the next "I AM", is also the Good Shepherd.  The sheepfold and the Good shepherd are different I AM's but closely related. The shepherd is the first into the fold and the sheep follow Him through the door. Sometimes the shepherd would stand inside the fold and call their sheep. The sheep would come running into the fold.  The sheep wanted to be with their shepherd.

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