Summary: 1) Entering by The Door (John 10:1-6) and 2) Identifying the Door (John 10:7-10)
Yesterday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has extended his condolences following the death of former Cuban leader Fidel Castro, calling him a “legendary revolutionary and orator.” The prime minister went on to say that “Mr. Castro made significant improvements to the education and healthcare of his island nation.” (http://news.nationalpost.com/news/canada/justin-trudeau-on-fidel-castro-a-legendary-revolutionary-who-improved-education-and-healthcare) The people of Cuba put their hope in Fidel to liberate them and their country. But the Cuba Archive project has documented almost 10,000 victims of Castro between 1952 and today, including 5,600 men, women, and children who died in front of firing squads and another 1,200 in “extrajudicial assassinations.” Thousands more Cubans also died trying to flee his repressive regime. He, kept his country poor with communist policies, repressed free expression, while he himself amassed a fortune and lived in luxury like all dictators who exploit their people. The utter blindness that many have had to this individual is shocking. (https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/9-things-you-should-know-about-fidel-castro)
When Jesus taught in parables or, in this case, allegories, He did not intend to hide His teaching. His design was to expose the “blindness” of those who refused to hear (Matthew 13:13–15). On this occasion, among those refusing to hear were those Pharisees who, with self-imposed blindness, cast the blind man whom Jesus healed out of the synagogue (John 9:22–31). Jesus, using three exemplum’s, exposes the wickedness of the Pharisees. One shows the blindness of the self-proclaimed shepherds/teachers of Israel (John 10:1–5). Another serves to contrast the mercenary spirit of these men with the love and genuine care of Jesus, who gives His life for the sheep. The other reveals to these enemies of righteousness that Jesus, The Door, receives, and does not cast out, those who believe (John 10:7–9) (Bronger, J. R. (1990). “I Am the Door.” (D. Bowman, Ed.)Christianity Magazine, 7(5), 17.).
Many people who reject God often reject a caricature of God that is not real. When we ask them who it is they are rejecting, they often express the notion of a God who is uncaring, distant and cruel. They often have these misconceptions from poor representations of those who claimed to be followers of God. Unlike the uncaring leaders of Israel, Jesus is the prime example of the one being sent by the father in love to care and tend to His flock. He is the long-awaited messiah, prophesied in the Old Covenant, to bring hope and liberation to His people.
Followers of Christ can have hope since they have a gatekeeper that knows them, their needs, will protect them, and care for them. He explains 1) Entering by The Door (John 10:1-6) and 2) Identifying the Door (John 10:7-10)
1) Entering by The Door (John 10:1-6)
John 10:1-6 [10:1]"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. (ESV)
To explain how he was The Gate, Jesus used the common imagery of the shepherd and the sheep. He explained how anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the door/gate but as it says in John 10:1, climbs in by another way, was a thief and a robber. Since the gate/doorkeeper obviously would not let strangers in, would-be rustlers had to climb the wall of the sheepfold to get at the sheep. The phrase amēn, amēn (truly, truly) introduces a statement of notable importance. Jesus began this discourse by identifying Himself as the true Shepherd, in sharp contrast to all false shepherds. Each village in the sheepherding regions of Palestine had a sheepfold where sheep were kept at night. The shepherds would graze their flocks in the surrounding countryside during the day, and then lead them back to the communal sheepfold in the evening. There the shepherds would stop each sheep at the entrance with their rods and carefully inspect it before allowing it to enter the fold (cf. Ezek. 20:37–38).
Only the one as it says in John 10:2 who entered by the door was a shepherd of the sheep. The one who enters the sheepfold by the door is seen to be the shepherd. He has the right to enter, and this is recognized when the gate/doorkeeper opens to him. In the case of a small flock there would be no such official, but what is apparently in mind here is a large fold where several flocks find shelter. One gate/doorkeeper can thus look after a large number of sheep (Morris, L. (1995). The Gospel According to John. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (446–447). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).