The Good Shepherd of Israel


There seems to be something incongruous in Christ calling himself “the door,” in view of the fact that in the parable of verses 1-6 he speaks of the shepherd entering into the sheepfold by the door. Here Christ does not enter through the door unto his sheep, but he is the “door” by which the sheep enter, are saved, and go in and go out and find pasture. However, this difficulty disappears when we remember that in the parable Jesus is portraying the different attitudes of the false shepherds (thieves) and of the true shepherds, whereas here the Lord is teaching the truth concerning his relationship to the sheep on a higher plane. Here the Savior teaches the uniqueness of his being the Shepherd of the sheep. By His death and resurrection and ascension he is the “door” of the sheep, who were given to him by the Father. Jesus shows us here the hidden meaning of the proverb, the suggested implications of the same! 

Christ is the door. He is emphatically the door! There is no other door to life and blessing. He says very emphatically “I, I am the door.” No one else is the door. He is the personal door. By entering through Him we enter into life. He is the Mediator of God and man. He gives life and that more abundantly; he gives overflowing life. It is eternal life. 

This is all given us in the metaphor of a door! 

We should not fail to see the meaning either of the “I am the door.” Repeatedly John speaks of Christ as saying “I Am. . .” Here we have the great self-assertion of Christ. Once Christ simply said “I Am” and the soldiers and the band fell backwards to the ground. That was when Christ was in the garden of Gethsemane where Judas Iscariot and the band would take him. This incident and the constant usage of the words “I Am” show that we have here to do with something unique in the mouth of Jesus. This could only come from his lips. He is greater than Solomon, and greater than all the prophets. He is the great Shepherd of Israel. He is the great I-AM-THAT-I-AM, the Covenant Jehovah in the flesh. In Him the Lord has visited His people. His is a glory full of grace and truth. He is in the bosom of the Father; He is the only-begotten God, very God of God in our flesh. God is manifested in Him in the flesh. In these last days God has spoken unto us through His Son! 

This Deity of the eternal Son is reflected in and basic to all such expressions as, “I am the door” (vs. 9), “I am the door of the sheep” (vs. 7) “I am the good shepherd” (vss. 11, 14) “I and the Father are one” (vs. 30). In the foregoing quotations the uniqueness of Christ is indicated in unmistakable language. And we must not overlook the fact that it was thus understood also by the Jewish antagonists of Christ when they say, “Not concerning a good work do we stone thee, but concerning blasphemy, and that thou, being a man, makest thyself God!” Jesus does not deny that such is his meaning with the “I am the door of the sheep, etc.” but defends his right to use this language by showing that in the Scriptures those, who were not God but merely men, are “called gods,” as it is written in Psalm 82:6 “I say ye are gods.” Nay, Christ’s works demonstrate that He and the Father are indeed one! The Jews would possibly say that God was with him; he says I and God are equal! 

This makes the “I am the door of the sheep” to stand in a new dimension. He is the “door” which is a sheep-door. Only the sheep can use this door and enter in. The door here is the way to the Father, the covenant fellowship with God. It is the opening of all the treasures of salvation and our entrance into it. This salvation is all cast in metaphorical language here: 

1. It is an entering in through Christ. By his death and resurrection and ascension and by the operation of His Spirit. 

2. There is the constant fellowship alluded to in “and shall go in and go out and find pasture.” This refers to the joy of salvation ever afterwards! It makes one think of Psalm 23:6 “Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever!” 


The Lord now expands the idea of the “door” by calling attention to the fact that he is “the good shepherd.” He is both the door of the sheep and the shepherd of the sheep. Obviously this would not make too good a sense if it were to be taken in the literal sense without a higher and deeper meaning of the mysteries of the kingdom. For how can any creaturely entity be both a door of a building and a shepherd of the sheep! Evidently such is not the meaning here of Jesus’ words. 

We must look here for an expansion of the metaphor “door.” Christ is the door as the good shepherd. Were He not the good shepherd He could never be the door. For Christ is an entirely different kind of shepherd than other shepherds, He is the good shepherd. He is good in the sense of being an altogether lovely and beautiful Shepherd. He is the Son of God in our flesh, who came to suffer and to die in our behalf. He is God in the flesh, God-with-us, Immanuel! He is the appointed Shepherd of God to rule over all God’s sheep with His rod and staff forever. Even in heaven’s glory in the ages to come Christ will be the Shepherd of the one great flock! He will be God revealed in the Shekinah, above the mercy-seat, in the temple of God. He is good and beautiful as God is beautiful. Holy, harmless, undefiled and separated from sinners is He, and, therefore, He is made higher than the heavens. He is the holy One of God! 

He is the door because He is the good shepherd. He is the only one who was appointed to meet the awful foe called the Devil, and to enter into the very anguish and sufferings of hell to bear the wrath of God against the sins of all His people, of all the sheep. He is the only one who truly labors for the well-being of the sheep. Herein is love, not that any man could love the sheep, but that God did send his Shepherd to give His life a ransom for the many, many sheep. All these sheep were given to the Shepherd by the Father. And for these sheep and for these only the Shepherd will give His life. He is not simply a door where anyone may enter, a door for man with his free-will to enter, but He is very particularly the door of the sheep! He is the door of the sheep which He knows by name! He claims all the sheep as His own peculiar possession. He calls them mine own. The Greek text points this out very strongly: the mine! 

Only of these sheep is He the shepherd! In the most absolute sense all and every one that came before him were thieves and robbers. None really cared for the Sheep but He! That will be shown presently. He stands here in the Old Testament Israel, in the midst of the temple and the shadows and He claims it all as His own things. (John 1:11) He stands in the midst of Israel of the Old Testament, (be it then on the door-step of the New Testament in His blood) and seeks all the lost sheep of the house of Israel. These are all in one stall. Then His eyes look across the New Testament Dispensation, and He sees multitudes, multitudes of sheep among the nations, and those He must also save as His own. And in saving them He will make them one flock, under one Shepherd. And thus, too, he will indeed separate the sheep from the goats, the seed of the woman from the seed of the serpent. 

How beautiful is the language of the sovereign love of God as portrayed in Ezekiel 34:11-16 “For thus saith the Lord God: Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out, as. a shepherd searches out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country. I will feed them in a good pasture, and upon the high mountains of Israel shall their fold be: there shall they lie in a good fold, and in a fat pasture shall they feed upon the mountains of Israel. I will feed my flock, and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God. I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick. . . .” 

And how strong is God’s sovereignty expressed in this same chapter of Ezekiel, where we read “therefore, will I save my flock, and they shall no more be a prey: and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; He shall feed them and he shall be their shepherd. And, I the LORD will be their God, and my servant David a prince among them; I the LORD have spoken it.” (vss. 22-24) 

This is all very beautiful and comforting. 

However, in John 10 we have this shepherd in the flesh. He is the one of Whom the Spirit of Christ spoke in Ezekiel. He says: I am the good Shepherd! Christ here identifies himself with that Shepherd of the prophecy, and with their knowledge of that Shepherd from the Word of God. Therefore He can call Himself “the” Shepherd. Amongst all the children of men He alone is the Shepherd. He is God’s servant David. Is He not the Lion out of Judah’s tribe, the Root of David? He alone is worthy to take the book of the prophecy and apply this Word to Himself. In the volume of the Scroll it is written of Him!

Yes, His are all the sheep; all the sheep of all ages. Here we sing in the “Old Hundredth Psalm,” 

Know that the Lord is God indeed; 

Without our aid He did us make; 

We are His flock, He doth us feed, 

And for His sheep He doth us take. 

O enter then His gates with joy, 

Within His courts His praise proclaim; 

Let thankful songs your tongues employ, 

O bless and magnify His Name. 

Jesus is that good Shepherd. He is God in the flesh, Jehovah, the God of the burning bush. He is yesterday, today and forever the same. He is the Lord God omnipotent. He has power to lay down His life and has power to take it again. He is the beloved of the Father forever!