THE DOOR OF THE SHEEPFOLD
Thieves and Robbers Coming In Another Way
Chapter ten of the Gospel of John is the direct continuation of chapter nine. If we do not realize that chapters nine and ten are linked, we shall not understand why chapter ten opens the way it does. Chapter nine concludes with the words, “Some of the Pharisees who were with Him heard these things and said to Him, Are we also blind? Jesus said to them, If you were blind you would have no sin; but now that you say, We see, your sin remains” (vv. 40-41). Then in 10:1 the Lord continues, “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter through the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up elsewhere, he is a thief and a robber” (v. 1). If we realize that this is a direct continuation of chapter nine, we shall understand that the Lord is saying that it is the Pharisees who are thieves and robbers, for they did not enter the sheepfold through Christ as the door. In chapter ten the Lord seems to be saying, “You Pharisees are thieves and robbers. You did not enter this sheepfold through Me. Moses, David, Elijah, Isaiah, and Jeremiah all entered the fold through Me. But you Pharisees entered the fold by climbing up elsewhere. Because you have stolen into the sheepfold, you are thieves and robbers.”
In John 10 the sheep are God’s chosen people (vv. 3, 5, 27). The sheepfold is the law or Judaism as the religion of the law, in which God’s chosen people were kept and guarded in custody and ward until Christ came (vv. 1a, 16). The thieves and robbers are those like the Pharisees and the Jewish leaders who came into the sheepfold, but not through Christ (vv. 1b, 8). Now we need to go on to consider Christ as the door of the sheep.
The door of the sheep is Christ, the Son of God, for God’s chosen people to go in and go out of the sheepfold. In verse 7 the Lord Jesus says, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” In verse 9 the Lord goes on to say, “I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and go out and shall find pasture.”
Not the Door to Heaven
Some misinterpret the Lord’s word concerning Himself as the door and think that He is the door for us to go to heaven. According to their understanding, they would say that if we do not have the Lord Jesus, we do not have the entrance to heaven. This interpretation is mistaken. In verse 9 the Lord Jesus speaks about going in and going out. If the door here is the door to heaven, this would indicate that it is possible to go in and out of heaven. This would mean that the Lord Jesus is not only the door for us to go into heaven, but also that He is the door for us to go out of heaven. Surely this interpretation of Christ as the door is not correct.
The Sheep in the Fold
If we read the context, we shall see that Christ is the door of the Old Testament sheepfold. When pasture is not available in the wintertime or in the night, sheep must be kept in a fold. Before the Lord Jesus came, God’s people were in the night. Therefore, God used the law to keep His chosen people and guard them in custody and ward until Christ came. Old Testament saints such as Moses, David, and Daniel were kept in custody in the fold. Hence, the Old Testament with the law as the center was the sheepfold in which God’s chosen people were kept as they waited for the time when they could come out of the fold and come into the pasture. While it was night, they needed the fold to shelter them.
All the Old Testament saints entered the sheepfold through Christ. This means that Christ was the door of the Old Testament sheepfold so that God’s chosen people could enter the fold and be preserved there. But now Christ is the door for the sheep to come out of the fold. This is the reason verse 9 speaks of going in and going out. First, God’s people in the Old Testament went into the fold. But when the Lord Jesus came, it was time for them to go out of the fold.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 27, by Witness Lee)