“Jesus – The Door and Way to Blessing”
January 15, 2007
“Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that enters in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. The doorkeeper opens the door for him and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. And when he leads forth his own sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger, but will flee from him: for they don’t know the voice of strangers."
Jesus told them this parable, but they didn’t understand the things he spoke to them. Jesus spoke to them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers. The sheep did not hear them. I am the door. By me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:1-9
When you think of Jesus – what do you think of? Jesus described himself in many different ways. He is the light of the world. He is the Good Shepherd. He’s the Rock of Ages. He is Almighty God. He’s the Creator. We can learn a lot about Jesus by studying the names He called Himself and the names the Bible calls Him. This morning I want to focus on Jesus as the Door – or the Gate. This was a very relevant illustration to the People of Jesus’ day. They were all familiar with sheep and goats and farm stuff. Most people today are pretty ignorant of the things they just took for granted. Many of them tended sheep every day. Most others saw the process at the very least. So this spiritual truth Jesus was explaining was made more real; it was easier to understand when Jesus put it in terms they knew and understood.
In the religious community, people were familiar with the gate as being the only way to come to God. In Moses’ day, the tent of meeting, which housed the holy place and the holy of holies in which God dwelt, was only entered into by one single gate. In Solomon’s day to Jesus’ day, the temple could only be entered into by one gate or one door. There was no other way to get to God. So the primary meaning of Jesus being the door or the gate was very obvious to the people of His day. He was saying that He was the only way to heaven. He was the only way to God. He was so bold as to say,
“…no one comes to the Father except by me.” John 14:6
A lot of people don’t want to hear that today. That’s sounds too exclusive. They want to believe there are many ways to God – Jesus being just one of many. But that isn’t what Jesus taught. It wasn’t very popular in His day either. But it’s truth. Jesus is the doorway to heaven. There is no other way to get there except through Him.
In our minds eye, we picture Jesus as the door, belonging at the beginning of our spiritual journey. And that is primarily true. Of course when the believer has certain needs because he is cold and defeated as we so often are, because of our fallen nature and temptations from the enemy of our souls, the entrance into further blessing is “through Jesus – the Door”. And it must also be entered into by repentance and faith. But it is helpful for us to think of the Door as applying to the beginning of our spiritual journey.
So now what is on the other side of the door? We have entered into God’s Kingdom. We have walked through the door of life. What is there now? The Bible could have pictured the Door leading us into a house or a garden. If it had done that we would have gotten the idea that the Lord, through salvation, brings us into present peace and holiness, without any cooperation on our part.
But that’s not the picture the bible gives us. Scripture gives us the picture of the Door leading us onto a path. Jesus said,
"Heaven can be entered only through the narrow gate! The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide enough for all the multitudes who choose its easy way. But the Gateway to Life is small, and the road is narrow, and only a few ever find it. Matt 7:13-14 (Living)
So Jesus, who said He was the Gate, now describes Himself as the Way. Now, a way or a path gives the idea of not a final, settled blessing – but rather of a walk. A path is an experience which is continuous. It is a step done repeatedly. In other words, it is something happening each moment in the present. After one step – there is another step. After one ‘now’ there is another ‘now. And what the Word is communicating to us is that our experience of Christ is to be a continuous “present tense”. THIS moment we are to be at peace with God and after this moment, the next moment, and then the next so we are in living fellowship with Him. The past crises experiences do not help us here. The door experience to salvation or to sanctification was essential – but now it is past. We may be able to testify that we were saved or sanctified on such and such a date – but God does not want us always going back there in our minds – but to be living with Him each moment in the present – where He will be with us in all the ways we need Him to be with us.
Now a walk, like the Christian walk, requires that there be a road or a pathway on which to walk. Sometimes when I am hiking up in the mountains or driving through them – I wonder how it must have been before there were any roads. We all like to go up to Gum Boot Lake, and people have been going up there since the 1800’s, but imagine what it was like to go up there before there were any roads. It was pretty rough going.
When you think about the fact that God calls us to walk with Him in a continuous, present tense fellowship with Him – we can’t help but ask – How?
How can a people like us, in circumstances like ours, enjoy a continuous walk like that? With evil propensities within us and sin all around us, with a tempter that comes as an angel of light sometimes or a roaring lion other times, we are faced with what looks like an impassable swamp – or a pit of deep miry clay. We need a way; we need a pathway that foolish, self destructing, people such as we are, may walk on in peace and safety.
God has provided us with that Way. The Bible says,
“And a main road will go through that once-deserted land; it will be named "The Holy Highway." No evil-hearted men may walk upon it. God will walk there with you; even the most stupid cannot miss the way.” Isaiah 35:8 (Living)
Jesus, Himself, said, “I am the Way…”
In Acts, the early Church did not refer to themselves as Christians or Nazarenes – but “followers of the Way”. To them Jesus was not only the door – but also the Way – with whom they were continuously and joyfully walking.
If there is one thing as important as entering by the door – it is going on in the way. But that is our biggest problem, isn’t it? Compared with how easy it was to walk through the Door – the Way seems very hard. Is seems so difficult to maintain that fresh fellowship with the Lord that was so real when we first began. It is hard to maintain His peace in our hearts. We find it taxing to read the Bible and worship and to be effective witnesses. It is so difficult to display the sweetness and holiness we know we should.
The truth is that many of us who have entered by the Door are really not walking in the Way at all. We may have our faces toward heaven, by we have slipped off the Highway and are painfully dragging ourselves through the swamp that is on either side of the Highway of Holiness. So often we find ourselves stuck in a mud hole of the enemy. And life is painful and stressful and so difficult.
The problem is due to the fact that we are not seeing Jesus as the Way. We are trying to make other things the way – and it doesn’t work. Some Christians feel prayer is the most important thing in the Christian life –and that becomes the ‘way’ for them. Others would put bible study in that place or fellowship or church attendance or personal soul winning. Sometimes we pastors put building the church as the most important thing or sharing the gospel. We feel that if we do these things we will really be living the full Christian life then. So we make them to be the way onward.
But you know what? None of these things are the Way. And they only make the Christian life very hard and barren when we try to make them the Way –even in a small degree. First of all, they have no answer to sin. Prayer, witnessing, fellowship, church going and so on, do not cleanse away sin or offer peace to us. Therefore these things can never be the Way for the Christian. The value of these activities depends of the motivation for doing them.
And not only do these righteous activities not bring us into peace, but the seeking of spiritual life by works can be positively harmful in another way. Paul said that every man is cursed who tries to justify himself by the law. Jesus is the only one we can believe in without being cursed. Only Jesus Himself is the Way. To attempt to walk on any other - is to fall.
Someone at this point may object that he does not regard any of these things as the Way itself – but only as a way to Christ, who is the true way. But guess what? There is no way to Jesus – because Jesus IS the Way. We do not need a way to the Way. I’m not saying we shouldn’t do these things. On the contrary, we should - and they are to have a prominent place in our lives. But what I am saying is that they are not the Way – as we so often make them.
Rev. Wesley Nelson said,
“Because prayer is revitalized through fellowship with Christ, there is a tendency to look upon prayer as a way to Christ and to try vainly to pray more fervently in order to come closer to Him. The Bible witnesses to Christ, and when Christ is near, the Bible is a new book. Therefore some torment themselves for not reading or studying it more faithfully in order to know Him better.
Christ is the way to the Bible, as He is to prayer. The time of daily personal devotions becomes a more blessed experience to those who know Christ intimately. Sometimes this tends to be looked upon as a way to Christ, and the responsibility to keep it only adds to the burden of a troubled conscience.
The sheep do not come to the still waters to find the Shepherd. It is the Shepherd Himself who leads them beside the still waters. Christ is immediately available right where we are, AS we are. He in turn becomes the way to these various means of worship.
If we do not have a continuing devotional life with the Lord, with prayer and reading the Word, isn’t it because we have become spiritually cold and out of touch with the Lord? The surest test of where we are spiritually at any given time is probably our devotional life. If we find ourselves out of the Lord’s blessing, the need is not to make a new attempt at prayer or reading the Bible – but to go directly to the Lord Himself – and repent of our coldness and of the things that have caused it. And we will receive again from Him a new cleansing. THEN prayer and the study of the Word are filled once more with the glory of His Presence and becomes a delight. Witnessing to others because fresh and spontaneous. It is as simple as that. We find out that Jesus is the pathway to our devotions instead of our devotions being the pathway to Him.
With sin and trials and temptations all around us – how can we hope to walk in fellowship with God? If the sinner needs a Door – the saint needs a Way. And we need to remember that the worst things we can discover about ourselves never takes Jesus by surprise. And as soon as we find we have slipped off the Way through the many sins of ignorance, and weaknesses of the flesh, if we will immediately and honestly admit them as soon as God shows them to us – fellowship will be restored and we will find ourselves proceeding on our happy Way. Even the most self-condemned are invited to have ‘boldness’ to draw near by this Way.
Let me conclude by saying, there are not two messages, one for the unsaved and the other for the saved. It is the same Lord who helps both. And the response which is required from both is the same – repentance. His blood only cleanses sin confessed as sin. If we refuse to admit our faults and sin - when the Holy Spirit reveals it – then the walk with Jesus stops. We slip off the Highway and fall into darkness. Thank God, we can always return to the Way the moment we are willing. The simple steps are repentance and faith.
“ if we confess our sins to him, he can be depended on to forgive us and to cleanse us from every wrong…” 1 John 1:9 (Living)
The most important thing is not that sin never comes – but that it is hated and judged and confessed to Jesus immediately. So victory comes by repentance. The wonderful fact is that we do not need to be defeated any longer than it takes for us to recognize sin as sin and bring it to the Lord in confession. Then He not only cleanses and delivers us – but also becomes our victory- as we trust Him. “Victory really IS in Jesus”.
SONG: “Victory in Jesus”