The Great I AM: The Door

The Great I AM: The Door

The Great I AM: The Door.

“Truly, truly, I say to you, I AM the door to the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I AM the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved.” (John 10:7-9, NASB).


a. At the end of John 8, Jesus made a startling claim: equality with God; His eternal existence; His oneness with the Great I AM! Yahweh was the personal Name of God revealed at Moses’ burning bush, and that Name was so holy that it couldn’t be spoken aloud. Jesus claims that He is on the same spiritual plane as I AM WHAT I AM; I WILL BE WHAT I WILL BE; I AM ONE WHO EXISTS. Jesus is stating here that He is equal to the LORD, the very personal foundation of existence itself. In front of a big crowd of people, Jesus claimed divinity! He was close to being killed for that apparent blasphemy, but He managed to walk away unscathed.

b. In John 9, Jesus is walking along on the Sabbath day, saw a blind man, and healed him. This healing occurred in an interesting way… Jesus spit on the ground, mixed His saliva with dust and made a little mud, and then spread the mud on the blind man’s eyes. After the beggar washed the mud off, he was healed! After a lifetime of blindness, just like that the man could see. Jesus the co-Creator used the “original material” of creation to give this man sight.

c. Soon after the healing, the beggar was cornered by the religious authorities… Who are you? Who healed you? Were you really blind? Do you realize this miracle was done on the Sabbath, that it was illegal? After some arguing back and forth, even to the point of questioning the man’s parents, the Pharisees saw fit to expel this healed man from the synagogue. He was now a person marked for exclusion. Excommunicated, one might say. The healed man no longer had access to religious activities, the reading of the Word, the worship of the Lord with his people of faith. The Pharisees presented themselves as the door, and they shut it in the man’s face.

d. Jesus then once again affirms His deity… Jesus found the healed man after he was kicked out of the synagogue, and Jesus asked him if he believed in the “Son of Man,” the Son of God as prophesied in the book of Daniel. The healed man said that he would believe in Him if he knew who He was. Jesus then said, “Open your new eyes… The Son of Man is the One talking to you right now. You’re looking right at Him!” The healed man saw with his spiritual eyes and worshiped Jesus. This is yet another example of Jesus declaring His divinity.

e. Jesus then confronts the authorities, telling them they are spiritually blind. He is telling them that they can’t see into God’s world any better than the blind man could before he was healed. Jesus tells them it’s especially tragic because the leaders have fooled themselves into thinking their sight is just fine.

f. In the beginning of chapter 10, Jesus continues his confrontation with the Pharisees, teaching them about the thieves, robbers, and strangers. He talks a little bit about what a flourishing flock of sheep looks like… Sheep that are well cared for and can safely go in and out to pasture, are familiar with their shepherd’s voice, and how a relationship of trust develops between the shepherd and his sheep. Jesus is implying that the Pharisees, in their spiritual blindness, are not trustworthy, are in reality strangers to the sheep of God’s flock, and are not effective shepherds as a result. Jesus said more than once earlier (eg, Matt. 9:36), that the people were wandering spiritually, confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Jesus is scorning the spiritual leadership of the religious authorities, laying the blame on them for the sorry state of spiritual affairs in His land.


a. Jesus again boldly claims his divinity with another reference to Yahweh… “I AM the door to the sheep.” He uses this I AM formula seven times in the Gospel of JohnI AM the Bread of Life (6:35); the Light of the World (8:12); the Door (10:7,9); the Good Shepherd (10:14); the Resurrection and the Life (11:25); the Way, the Truth and the Life (14:6); and the True Vine (15:1). In these statements, every time Jesus says “I AM” to the people, He is referring to His equality to Yahweh, the God of Abraham, of Moses, of Creation. It’s fascinating that Jesus loved using these simple, commonplace metaphors to unpack who He is and what He is here to do. Nothing fancy, abstract, erudite. It’s almost as if He is saying to the people, “Okay, okay, I know the I AM Name is a bit obscure and mysterious. You could be forgiven for wondering… I AM what? God, fill in the blanks, please. You are what, exactly?” Jesus is continuing the revelation of God by filling in the blanks a bit more, so God’s Name is not quite so elusive or open-ended. The simple I AM metaphors are helpful in that way, and the humility of Jesus in using these simple ideas did much to continue the conversation between the Son of God and the people, and to inspire many helpful a-ha moments with His followers.

b. In that day, dedicated and effective shepherds would stretch themselves across the entranceway to the sheep pen at night. Pens were usually enclosures out in the open, with no roof, and with walls constructed of stones and branches. The shepherds would place briars, thorns, and thistles along the top of the walls to keep the sheep from climbing out and predators from climbing in. The shepherds would provide only one entrance to the sheep pen, and that’s where the shepherd would lie down to control access. There would be no sheep rustlers or predators on his watch, and from that spot he could also keep his eye open for lost, wandering sheep outside the pen. Shepherds were human doors, laying down their lives for the sheep. The self-sacrificing shepherd was the best possible entryway for the sheep, who knew that they were safe and secure and freed to flourish in the flock.

c. I AM the door. Jesus seems to be saying here… I am the gateway to God’s kingdom, to God’s flock. I will open the door to the wandering sheep, the lost, the injured, the helpless, the confused. I will close the door when the sheep need protection and peaceful rest. I will open the gate to God’s love… not like those false shepherds who closed the door to this healed man. They didn’t think he deserved God’s love, so they excluded him. He is just the type of person to whom I open the door, those in need of inclusion in my flock. I am the door to the sheep, I will open up the entrance and exit so my sheep may freely follow me to pasture. And I will close this gate to thieves, predators and strangers, anyone who will not allow the sheep to flourish in God’s kingdom. I am the front door, and there is no back door. I am a big welcome mat to those who have been rejected. You may enter through me and live life to the fullest, an abundant life in God’s flock. With me at the entrance, I create a refuge where there once was a wall of judgment. The sheep in the flock will find me a strong door, a faithful door, for I AM one with Yahweh, and “what He opens no one can close; and what He closes no one can open.” (Rev. 3:7). I AM the Door that opens the way to salvation for all sheep.

d. The Lord clearly describes what the bad shepherds look like in Ezekiel 34: “What sorrow awaits you shepherds who feed yourselves instead of your flocks. Shouldn’t shepherds feed their sheep? You drink the milk, wear the wool, butcher the best animals, but you let your flocks starve. You have not taken care of the weak. You have not tended the sick or bound up the injured. You have not gone looking for those who have wandered away and are lost. Instead, you have ruled them with harshness and cruelty. So my sheep have been scattered without a shepherd.” (Ezek. 34:2-5, NLT). It’s no wonder that Jesus was exasperated with the religious authorities of His day. They did not feed the people with the Bread of Life; they did not come close to offering an everlasting spring of water; they missed the forest for the trees; they were more concerned about Sabbath-breaking than a  miraculous healing. They were more poised to close the door than open it. They seemed to match Ezekiel’s description of bad shepherds, and Jesus had little patience with the religious leadership. Jesus offered Himself as the Door, and readily judged those who kept closing the entrance to God’s kingdom. In this John 10 narrative, Jesus will soon offer another great I AM as the Good Shepherd. He will provide quite the dramatic contrast to Ezekiel’s bad shepherds. He indeed is the Good Shepherd.