“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.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” John 10:1-18

Jesus boldly lays claim to exclusivity as the door to the sheepfold. He also makes a bold claim of extreme care for his own as the Good Shepherd. This dual metaphor of Jesus being the door and being the good shepherd make clear the exclusive claims of Jesus.

Our culture continually wants to eliminate any claims to exclusive truth. For those who accept “religion,” they want us to accept that “all roads lead to heaven.” No one faith is better than another. We should coexist as the bumper sticker declares.

I don’t believe Jesus indicated that his followers should look down on those who don’t follow Jesus as being inferior, but he did make it clear that there is a demarcation between those who follow Jesus and everyone else. Here, Jesus says, “I am the door.” At an earlier time, God spoke and said, ““You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). This was the same exclusive claim. If you are wondering about how to be properly related to God, he makes it clear that Jesus is the exclusive door into God’s sheepfold.

The second metaphor is of Jesus being the Good Shepherd in which Jesus compares himself to the “hired hand.” The Good Shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Of course, Jesus was speaking prophetically about laying down his life on the cross for “his own.” The false saviors, the hired hands, of which there are many, flee when the wolf comes because they don’t own the sheep. They don’t really care about the sheep. Jesus cares for them because they are his, he owns us, we are bought with the price of his own blood. He laid down his life for us.

We who have entered the sheepfold by the door, Jesus Christ, have the joy of going in and out and finding pasture. That is, we can have the abundant life Jesus provides to us. We experience the delight of his presence. We are satisfied with his steadfast love every morning, so we may be glad and rejoice all the days of our lives. We have the joy of knowing his voice and being able to follow him. This is an intimate relationship. “I know my own, and my own know me,  just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.”

This degree of intimacy with Jesus is probably more than many of us have realized. Notice that Jesus says it is “just as the Father knows me and I know the Father.” That is the intimacy available to all of us. I am amazed and frankly know there is a lot more of intimacy with Jesus than I generally experience. This challenges me to trust him more in this regard. It’s not hard to believe he knows me intimately; the difficulty comes when I am supposed to know him intimately. Since I know I don’t deserve this intimacy; it forces me to recognize that it is only available because Jesus laid his life down for me. Now, I am alive in Christ. It is only “in Christ” that I am capable of intimacy with God.

Do you also find it challenging to believe you can have the same kind of intimacy with Jesus that he has with the Father? What does this idea do to your heart and mind? Tell us about it in the comments section at the bottom of this page. I would love to hear your experience.