In John 10:9-11, Jesus said, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find safe pasture…. I came that they may have life and have it more abundantly. I am the good Shepherd. The good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
In the first of two metaphors Jesus gave us about Himself in John 10, He said that He is the door. That’s the door of the fold for His sheep. The sheep metaphorically represent people. The fold represents the Kingdom of God. There is one door—thus only one way into that fold. The door is Jesus. He is the only way in. Try to get in by climbing over the wall, cutting another door through it, or digging a hole under it, and you will fail. Jesus is the door, the only way of entry into heaven.
In the second metaphor, while we remain sheep, Jesus describes Himself as the good Shepherd—the One who gives His life for the sheep.
This is further explained in another passage comparing us to sheep. It says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him (Christ) the iniquity (guilt) of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6) That’s God’s indictment of humanity. First, it shows us that God sees all of us together as a sinful group of misguided sheep that left the right path. God created us, and has every right to our perfect obedience and following. But the entire mass of humanity failed together, in Adam our first father, when Adam sinned.
As you’ll read in Genesis 2 and 3, God had given Adam only one rule. Adam had been given a vast garden to delight his every desire, and told that he could have anything he wanted there, so long as he didn’t eat the fruit from the one and only forbidden tree. By eating from that tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam would be disobeying, and declaring his desire to be independent of God’s counsel and walk his own way. When that happens, God told Adam, you will surely die. As our head representative, Adam made an executive decision to disobey on our behalf as well as his own. He ate from the tree, announcing that he and his descendants would be “as God” in deciding right from wrong for ourselves. He regretted the decision as soon as it had been made. Sin, suffering, death, and destruction immediately entered the world. A world God had created without such things and warned Adam that to avoid them he must obey the single rule. But mankind in Adam told God, “One rule is one too many. We will disobey.”
“Wait a minute,” you say. “What do you mean, ‘we‘? Why should we be held guilty because of something Adam did?”
Well, the Bible teaches us that Adam was our head, and all humanity was acting in him in that rebellion against God. And before you say, “but that’s not fair to me; I didn’t get the choice,” you need to know that God says that’s not true. Look again at the verse from Isaiah: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way,” it says. You see, it wasn’t just humanity as a whole being found guilty. It was each one of us individually. When you and I came along multiple generations later, each one of us individually said, “I second Adam’s motion. I also want to do things my way and decide between good and evil. If I want to lie, I will lie. If I want to steal, I will steal. If I want to hurt someone else for my own gain, I will do it. If I want to curse, I will curse. If sexual sin or other kinds of immorality feel good, I want to experience them.” When the serpent offered you the opportunity to know by experience not just good, but evil, you, like Adam, said “yes.” So you aren’t being condemned for something Adam did and you didn’t. You’re under God’s sentence of wrath because as Adam did—as all humanity did like sheep going astray—so also you did, turning like everyone else, to your own way. Sin didn’t just infect humanity as a whole; it infected you, personally. You are a sinner. You have lived in rebellion against the One who made you and has an uncontested right to your perfect obedience. And if you were to remain in that state until you die, it would result in eternal punishment in hell.
That’s unspeakably bad news. To learn that the judge has already found you guilty before this life even ends and you see Him in court. What can be done about it? What can you do to make it up to God? What can you say or do that will get your sins forgiven so that when you stand before Him it won’t be a day of terror like none other?
That’s even worse than the first bad news. There is truly nothing you can do to solve your problem. No good works, no promises or commitments, no sacrifices or gifts, no amount of religious efforts, and no rituals or traditions you can observe have any chance to save you. You are “without hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12) You can’t turn from your sins, give your life to God, make a commitment to Him, or decide to do better. It’s already too late for you to change your behavior or attitude and make things right with God. Even if you really want to change, it’s already too late. You’ve already sinned, and already stand under condemnation as a child of Adam.
But there is hope. Because God has some very good news for you, too: “For God so loved the whole world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes on Him will not perish but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16) Jesus, the eternal Son of God Who always was, and Who created us, at one point in time became a man, without ceasing to be God. As a man, He lived a perfect life in your place. He obeyed all of God’s law and fulfilled all of God’s righteousness in your place, on your behalf. He earned what you couldn’t earn: eternal life. And He earned it for you. The last part of the Isaiah verse above explains how: “and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity (guilt) of us all.”
After a sinless life, Jesus died on the cross in your place and mine. God the Father took your guilt and mine and placed it on His Son. So that just as He lived a perfect life in your place, He died as a perfect sacrifice in your place. He “lay down His life for the sheep.” He absorbed all of the righteous punishment of God for your sins in your place. So all of your sin and guilt have already been punished. And they were punished completely. God proved this by raising His Son from the dead on the third day. If He had been anything less than completely satisfied with Christ’s sacrifice to pay the penalty for the sins of the whole world, then Jesus would still be dead. He rose from the dead because the work of pleasing God on our behalf had been completely accomplished. This finished work of Christ on your behalf earned eternal life for you. And Christ is still alive today, ready to save forever everyone who “believes on Him,” as John 3:16 promises. “I have come that they might have life,” Jesus said in John 10. And you can receive that eternal life from Him right now. It is a gift. You could never earn it, but you will never be asked to. What He wants is for you to receive it as a gift. And you receive the gift by simply believing His promise. “To as many as received Him, who believed on His Name, He gave the right to become children of God,” is the assurance of that we find in John 1.
The instant you believe on the Lord Jesus Christ for His promise of eternal life, He forgives your sins, makes you a child of God, guarantees heaven as your destiny, and places His Holy Spirit within you as a permanent resident Who unconditionally promises, “I will never leave you, nor forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5) That moment you are born again of the spirit, born from above, and become a citizen of heaven. You are saved immediately, completely, absolutely, totally, and permanently, always and forever. No matter what you do or don’t do, from this moment on, you are His, and He is yours. You have life. Because Christ died for you personally and rose again. And now, with the apostle Paul, you can exclaim, “I live by faith in the Son of God, Who loved me, and gave Himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20b)
That news isn’t just good. It’s wonderful. It’s cause for ecstasy.
You are no longer a lost sheep. You have found the way home. You entered the fold by faith, through its only door, the Lord Jesus Christ, and you have been saved. Now, for however long you remain in this world, you “will go in and out and find safe pasture.” You’ll spend some of your time in the fold, in the presence of God and His people in the church, enjoying life with them and celebrating Jesus. And some of your time, you will go out into the world at large, enjoying His protection and provision as your Shepherd, while you walk in the world among those who are still lost sheep. If you listen to His voice and follow Him, He will enable you to be a witness to other lost sheep, and some will find their way to the Door because of your directions. Whatever happens now, you are secure in your eternal life and eternal relationship with a wonderful Savior. Yes, that is good news indeed!