“I am the door. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved, and will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come so that they may have life, and may have it abundantly. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” –John 10:9–11

Whenever I read this passage two pop-culture references come to mind. The first is the animated movie, Monsters, Inc. where the main character is a large, fuzzy monster who swaps scaring for silliness once he gets to know a little girl. All of the action happens as they go back and forth between doors that connect their two worlds. In the pinnacle scene in the movie, the characters find themselves in a factory full of doors that are swinging above their heads as they attempt to beat the bad guy to the one door that will lead the little girl home. 

The other less dramatic reference is one that made me laugh every time I watched it with my daughter. In one of the VeggieTales movies about David, there were little sheep that kept falling over—and staying that way until someone helped them up. 

In my mind, the two claims that Jesus makes in today’s passage always felt as separate as those two examples. I had always read these as two individual claims in the list of seven that we find in John’s Gospel, but they are connected in a really interesting way. 

Jesus used an illustration in our Scripture reading today that would have resonated strongly with His audience. As the VeggieTales movie showed us, sheep are prone to wander, refuse to run away from danger, and are susceptible to injury. Without a shepherd to guide and protect them, they may follow each other over a cliff or huddle together to make it easier for a predator to attack. Without their shepherd, the sheep would never be able to find their way home. 

In Jesus’ day and culture the people would have been familiar with two types of pens that held sheep. One was inside the village and would have held many herds of sheep that belonged to different shepherds from the town. Each night, someone would guard the door to the pen to make sure no one went in and no sheep came out, and each morning they would open the door so the shepherds could call their sheep (who would recognize the voice of their shepherd and follow).

The other pen was smaller and typically built of stones, a place where a shepherd could gather his sheep overnight if they were not going to return to the town. These rock pens did not have doors or gates, so the shepherd, once all his sheep were accounted for, would place his body at the entrance, becoming the door for the pen to protect his sheep.

While Jesus describes Himself as a protector and guide, He described the religious leaders as thieves and robbers (John 10:1). Instead of stealing sheep, they were stealing the opportunity for salvation away from the people by denying that Jesus is the Son of God and the only way to eternal life. This was hard—and insulting—news for His audience to hear. They expected a Messiah who would be a king or a military leader, not a shepherd who would humble Himself so low that He would lay His life on the line for us. 

Through the Door we have the way and through the Shepherd we have the promise and protection from the enemy who wants to kill, steal, destroy, and distract us from our ultimate destination: an eternity in heaven with Jesus. As we embrace the truth about who Jesus is and believe the claims made in John’s Gospel, may we listen for His voice as He guides us, like David wrote in Psalm 23: 

“The Lord is my shepherd,

I lack nothing.

He takes me to lush pastures,

he leads me to refreshing water.

He restores my strength.

He leads me down the right path…”


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Crystal Stine

Crystal Stine

Crystal Stine is the author of Holy Hustle, Quieting the Shout of Should, and the Holy Hustle Planner. She serves as the Communications and Online Director for her church and has a passion for using social media as a mission field to reach as many as possible for Christ. You can connect with Crystal online at crystalstine.me, get a sneak peek of her first books through several YouVersion reading plans, or find her on Instagram @crystalstine. Crystal lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and daughter.

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