If you know anything about sheep, you know that they’re not the most impressive members of the animal kingdom. They’re not particularly beautiful, smart, or fast; but at least they can’t defend themselves! We can process the sheep scouting report with little emotional attachment until we remember that we’re often compared to sheep in the Scriptures. Suddenly, it feels personal. We’re not particularly beautiful, smart, or fast. We are helpless on our own. Let’s just say the sheep metaphor is not meant to puff us up. So why does the Lord love this imagery? When we grasp the reality of our vulnerability as sheep, we begin to see the glory of having a Good Shepherd. We scratch and claw to prove our worth as sheep, and all the while our Good Shepherd offers us everything we need. Jesus becomes the beauty, wisdom, and security of His sheep.
So what is the connection between a shepherd and a door? Remember, sheep are vulnerable on every side. So a good shepherd is eager to find a location where his sheep are enclosed. Imagine a natural setting where a mountain forms a back wall, and trees and fences seal off the sides. But there still must be a door for the sheep to go in and out of that pasture. When Jesus claims that He is the Door of the sheep, we should imagine Him placing Himself in this most crucial passageway. The lost sheep must go through Him to find good pasture. The found sheep must go through Him to leave. And all the threats and dangers outside the fold must go through Him to touch His flock. Jesus is the Door, and we all must ask, “Am I inside or outside the Door?” Outside of Christ, we are lost sheep who do not recognize His voice, who look at death and call it life, who look at Life and call Him death. But in Christ, as we walk through the Door, we hear His voice, respond, and find abundant life. The Good Shepherd laid down His own life to rescue us from death and give us life. Through His death and resurrection, Jesus has stood in the gap and overcome every threat to our life in Him. Truly, the Lord is our Shepherd, and we want for nothing. He gives us rest in verdant pastures. He leads us to pure, clean waters. He restores our weary souls. And wherever we walk—even through the valley of the shadow—He is with us. Jesus is the Door to abundant life with God. Have you entered by Him?
There is only one Christ, but as C.S. Lewis says, we are “little Christs.” There is only one Good Shepherd, but we are sheep who have become mini-shepherds. Jesus is the Door, but God often uses us as a door through which other people walk to connect with Jesus Christ. Whom has the Lord used to help you to see Jesus? Who has been a “door” for you? There have been so many doors in my life. I think of Ann, Frank, Leith, Kim, Todd, Jason, John, Mac, Mark, Russ, and Brent (and the list could go on and on). The Lord brings people into our lives to share His love, to speak His Word, and to live His life before us so that we can see what it means to follow the Good Shepherd.
As we think about extending ourselves for the cause of Christ, we’re praying that the Lord will open new doors for fruitful ministry in our church. Making it easier for people to park and make it through the door matters. Providing adequate facilities for children, youth, and adult communities matters. Having more space for ministries that have reached capacity matters. But the people will always be more significant than the project. The flock will always mean more than the facility. If we don’t catch the vision of every believer being a new door through which others can connect with the Door, parking lots and buildings won’t make a difference. Left to ourselves, we’re not that impressive. We’re just sheep. But the Good Shepherd became a Lamb who was slain in order to bring us back into the fold. By His grace, we are His sheep who are becoming shepherds that reflect His sacrificial love for the lost. We are doors that open to the Door.
As you pray this week, stop, listen, and follow. Stop and think about Jesus’ claim: “I am the Door.” Have you entered by Him? Do you believe that a day in His courts is better than a thousand elsewhere? Listen to His voice: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Do you know abundant life in Christ? Do you long for others to taste that life? Follow where He leads: “I would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God than dwell in the tents of wickedness” (Psalm 84:10). Is your ambition to be a faithful member of the family of God? What if we are the most important new doors at our church?
By Robby Higginbottom, assistant pastor of college ministry, Park Cities Presbyterian Church.