Summary: This is one of the seven, actually eight, I AM statements of Jesus.
I AM the Door
There are seven I AM statements in the Gospel of John. They are “I AM the Bread of Life;” “I AM the Light of the World;” “I AM the Door;” I AM the Good Shepherd;” “I AM the Resurrection and the Life; “I AM the Way, the Truth and the Life” and “I AM the True Vine.” Actually there are eight as John 8:58 says “Before Abraham was, I AM.” The use of I AM is very emphatic in Greek and could have been said more simply without adding the personal pronoun. It seems to echo the “I AM” in Exodus 3:14 in the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament for the name of Yahweh. So these I AM statements are statements of Jesus’ divinity. He is the Yahweh of the Old Testament who appeared to Moses. Today we will look at “I AM the Door.” This appears twice in the passage we have read in John 10:7 and John 10:9. Let us open our bibles to John 10.
Sometimes the chapter divisions that were put at a later time into the Bible can cause confusion because it indicates here that there should be a break between chapters 9 and 10. But really, John 9:39-41 set up what is essentially a parable. Jesus had just healed a man who was blind from birth. The story of the miracle occurs before it was mentioned that Jesus did this on the Sabbath day. The Pharisees were indignant as always that Jesus would in their eyes break the Sabbath. They thought that if Jesus was truly from God, that He would obey their interpretation of the Sabbath. They could not deny the healing, so they would attribute this healing to the devil. They got even more indignant when the formerly blind man showed more spiritual insight than they had and as a result threw the blind man out of the synagogue.
Jesus replied to this indignity by saying that He came to make the blind to see and blind the seeing. The Pharisees saw that He spoke about them and snorted; “Certainly you are not calling us blind, are you!” Jesus answered that because they claimed to be able to spiritually see, they had the worst kind of blindness. This is what sets up a parable. Jesus used the parables which tell simple stories as a means to bring truth to light to His own and to hide the truth from those who rejected them. Parables are simple stories taken from everyday life. So in this sense, they are easy to understand at that level. But these simple stories illustrate a spiritual point which is not so easy.
Jesus begins the parable with a double “amen.” “Amen” is a Hebrew/Aramaic word which is translated “So may it be” or as an affirmation that something which had just been said is true. Jesus breaks the mold by speaking the Amen before the statement. In the other gospels, Jesus says a single Amen, but in John’s gospel it is doubled. When a Hebrew word is doubled, it makes it more emphatic. So Jesus is emphatically giving an “Amen” to what He is about to say. “Most truly, I tell you, ‘The one who does not enter through the door of the sheepfold but climbs in some other way is nothing but a thief and robber.” This statement is emphatically antithetical with the use of the strong Greek conjunction “alla” translated “but.” There is an simpler conjunction which does not carry this strong emphasis. Not only this, but this same conjunction is compounded with “place” to emphasize that the place a thief and robber comes in “another” way than the right way. The thief is one who simply sneaks in and steals. The robber is the one who comes armed with the intention of doing bodily harm. The fact John uses both is another emphatic marker.
Now we can see why it is important to see that John 10 is really a continuation of Jesus’ dialogue with the Pharisees. He is essentially calling them both thieves and robbers. Their purpose was not to care and feed for the sheep, but rather to take advantage of them. Sheep are helpless without the shepherd. So rather than going through the door, they have to creep I over the wall protecting the sheep. So this really is not about those who would try to sneak into heaven by going over the wall with the intention of staying there. Rather they were on a mission to lead the sheep astray and even slaughter them for their own purpose.
Verse two is remarkably unemphatic in a passage full of emphasis markers. It simple says with the simple conjunction: “But the one who comes in through the door is the shepherd of the sheep.” It is certainly in contrast to the thief and the robber, but Jesus only places slight emphasis on “shepherd” by moving it up in the word order. He will not become emphatic until He explains the parable. The shepherd has no reason than to take the simple way through the door of the sheepfold.