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John 10:7-11 by Robert Dean
Series:John (1998)
Duration:1 hr 1 mins 29 secs

The "I Am's"; The Abundant Life; John 10:7-11


Having said what He has said in the first five verses, that the people will not follow the illegitimate shepherd, we read in verse 6 NASB "This figure of speech Jesus spoke to them, but they did not understand what those things were which He had been saying to them." So now He is going to try to make things a little clearer, and in the process He is going to shift the analogy a little. Remember, He is standing there with the crowd around Him. He is looking at the sheepfold and as the shepherds are bringing their sheep in or picking their sheep up during the day, he is referring to what they are doing right in front of them and using that to illustrate His role.

John 10:7 NASB "So Jesus said to them again, 'Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep'." Once again he is emphasising a point. This is a point of doctrine that we need to pay attention to. One of the most important phrases in the entire Gospel of John is the phrase that is translated "I am." In the Greek it is ego eimi [e)gw e)imi]. ego is the first person singular pronoun for "I," and eimi is the first person singular meaning to be. It is literally translated "I am" but it has a greater significance than that. When Jesus uses this names it is pregnant with significance. The Pharisees understand it as we have seen in chapter eight, verse 58.

There are several "I am" statements in the Gospel of John and these tell us something about who Christ is and His character. If we understand the claims of Christ we cannot fall prey to the typical response we find from some people who say Jesus was just a good man, a religious teacher, a religious innovator, or just another rabbi. The Scriptures make it clear that Jesus claimed again and again to be God. In fact at the culmination of these events down in verse 30 He is going to make it clear so that no one can avoid its implications when He says: "I and the Father are one." Jesus is claiming to have the same essence, the same attributes of eternal, infinite God. He claims to be undiminished deity.

1)  In John 6:35 NASB Jesus said: "I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst." He makes this same claim on 6:48, 51. This emphasises spiritual nourishment.

2)  In John 8:12 NASB "Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, 'I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life'."

3)  In John 8:24 NASB "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am {He,} you will die in your sins." In 8:24, 28, 58 in the English we find the phrase "I am He," yet "He" is the third person singular personal pronoun autos [a)utoj] and is not found in any of these passages. What Jesus is saying is: "unless you believe that I am you shall die in your sins." There is one unmistakeable conclusion: Jesus is claiming undiminished deity. This is the doctrine of the hypostatic union.

4)  John 10:7 NASB "So Jesus said to them again, "Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep'."

5)  John 10:11 NASB "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." Also repeated in v. 14.

6)  John 11:25 NASB "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies'."

7)  John 14:6 NASB "Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me'." Exclusivity.

8)  John 15:1 NASB "I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser." Repeated in v. 5.

All these verses utilising the I am sayings emphasise three things: a) Jesus is clearly identifying Himself with God. He is claming to be undiminished deity. John 4:26; 6:20, 24, 28, 58. He does not want anyone to miss the point, so in 10:30 He says, "I and the Father are one"; b) Jesus is using some aspect of the creation to illustrate something about His character or God's plan for His life. For example, in John 6:35, 51 where He said "I am the bread of life," He is emphasising the fact that he is the exclusive source of spiritual nourishment for mankind; c) Jesus is saying something about His essence and His character, that He is the source of life, He is the resurrection, He is the truth. John 11:25; 14:6.

Here in this verse when Jesus says, "Truly, truly, I am," He then shifts the analogy. In the previous six verses He was the shepherd; now He says, "I am the door of the sheep." A door has two sides. One is the ingress, the entrance, and one is the egress, the exit. Jesus is talking about the fact that he is the only entry point into eternal life. That is the basic point that He is making in this analogy. He is the only way into eternal life and He is the only way to nourishment in the spiritual life, because when you go out the door you are going out to pasture. This is the feeding and nourishment of the believer in phase two the spiritual life.

John 10:8 NASB "All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them." He is saying that "all who came before me," and it is an interesting phrase in the Greek. He uses the nominative plural of pas [paj], the word for "all." It is a universal term but it doesn't necessarily means everyone—all went out to hear John the Baptist. We can assume that not every single individual in Judea made the trek out into the wilderness to hear John. In some passages it may mean the majority but in many other passages it is inclusive, and especially here because it is joined with the next phrase which is a pronoun hosoi [o(soi], masculine nominative plural, which means as many as. So it is translated here as "as many as have come before me." It includes every single one who came before Him who made a claim to shepherd or lead the people. That includes the Pharisees, the Sadducees, all the false messiahs that came along. Jesus says every one of them were illegitimate, thieves and robbers. When we go back to 10:1 we remember He is comparing His position as the legitimate shepherd in contrast to the illegitimacy of the religious leaders, and the religious leaders are called thieves and robbers. Why are they called thieves and robbers? Because they steal life from the people. If you are proclaiming a false gospel then you are stealing a life from people. The sheep refers to people like the blind man who are positive to God at God-consciousness and who are positive to the gospel and believe in Christ, accept Him as Messiah at gospel hearing. Like the blind man they didn't listen. They may have listened for a while and may have given lip service, but in their heart they're positive to God and they are going to respond when they hear the gospel.

John 10:9 NASB "I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture." The word "if" is a 3rd class condition: maybe yes, maybe no. Salvation is up to the individual's volition. "… "he will be saved" is future tense, so that is talking about phase three salvation, absent from the body and face to face with the Lord. The pasturing has to do with phase two salvation: feeding. We have to be fed spiritual food, spiritual sustenance, in order to grow spiritually. We can only be nourished by the Word of God. Entering in is phase one salvation. Going in and out is just a picture of the sheep. Every day they went out to pasture and came back in at night. It is coming to Bible class on a regular basis in order to get fed.

John 10:10 NASB "The thief [the religious leaders] comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have {it} abundantly." Religious leaders come only to steal and kill. Religion is the devil's greatest tool and religion is destructive to mankind. Religion has never produced freedom or the society that advocates freedom. Only biblical Christianity has the basis to understand true freedom and that is in Jesus Christ. Religion is the worst thing that we can get involved in. It constantly seeks to control and to tell you thou shalt not, thou shalt not, thou shalt not. In contrast, Jesus said: "I cam that they might have life [phase one, eternal life]…" Jesus came to give life; religion cannot give life. Secondly, "and have {it} abundantly." That is the result of pasturing. The abundant life is not yours simply because you put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ. You will have eternal life, never-ending existence with God in heaven; but if you want to have abundant life, which has to do with capacity for life, for blessing and for happiness, that only comes because there is Bible doctrine in your soul and you have learned to think as Christ thinks, and you are applying doctrine to all the issues of life. Then and only then are we going to have the abundant life that Christ gives us. It is the result of the pasture concept, feeding on the Word of God.   

John 10:11 NASB "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep." Jesus is called the good shepherd in this chapter, He is called the great shepherd in Hebrews 13:20,21, and He is the chi9ef shepherd in 1 Peter 5:4. So one of His basic characteristics in terms of His role in God's plan is to be a shepherd.

The doctrine of the shepherd

The believer is said to be a sheep. Sheep are helpless creatures and they are entirely dependent upon the shepherd for everything. So the shepherd-sheep analogy is a good analogy for the relationship of the Lord Jesus Christ to the believer.

1)  A sheep has no sense of direction, he doesn't know where to go. He can get lost in his own meadow. Same thing with the believer. The believer cannot guide himself. You and I do not know what the right questions are or what the right issues are in life without the guidance of the Word of God. That is why the Word of God is called the truth. Jesus is the truth because that is the only truth we have, Everything else is a guess. Our guidance comes exclusively from the shepherd who is the eternal Logos of God, the one who reveals God to us and who has revealed Himself to us in the written Word of God which is called the mind of Christ in 1 Corinthians 2:16.

2)  A sheep cannot cleanse himself. Sheep will remain filthy indefinitely unless the shepherd cleanses him. This is true of believers, they are cleansed of all pre-salvation sins by the work of Christ on the cross which is the basis for the cleansing for all post-salvation cleansing of sins. 1 John 1:9.

3)  A sheep is helpless when injured. Whenever you go through suffering and adversity you are injured. A hurt sheep will die unless tended by the shepherd (not by the psychiatrist). So as we are injured by the various adversities and problems in life only the Lord can provide the necessary protection and cure.

4)  A sheep cannot protect himself. The only protection for the sheep is the shepherd. There is no way that you and I can protect ourselves in spiritual warfare, our only protection is the defensive posture within Christ. That is the whole point of the armour in Ephesians chapter six. The battle is the Lord's, it is not up to us to try to go out and win the victory. We just rest in what God has provided for us, but that presupposes that we know what God has provided for us.

5)  A sheep cannot find food or water on his own. He depends upon the shepherd to lead it to water. If he is not fed the proper food he will eat poisonous weeds and die. The Lord determines in the Scripture (our feeding) what we need. He has told us everything. That means that when we come up with questions and the answers aren't in the Scriptures, then maybe we shouldn't be asking the questions.

6)  Sheep are easily frightened and panicked. Believers get all upset over inconsequential or non-existent things. As the shepherd calms the sheep with songs in the night our shepherd calms us with the truth of Bible doctrine, the truth of His Word.

7)  A sheep's wool does not belong to the sheep. Sheep produce wool but the shepherd owns it. The shepherd benefits from the production. All bona fide spiritual production in the life of the believer belongs to the Lord who is glorified forever. It is the Lord who by means of the Holy Spirit provides for all of our production in the spiritual life.

Then Jesus says, "…the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep."