The Door, The Shepherd, And The Fold
By Fred E. Kinzie
Perhaps in response to the excommunication of the blind man He had healed, Jesus related a parable, the only one John recorded (John 10:1-18). It is likely that the healed man was present for this teaching. At this stage they could not be certain what the consequences of his excommunication might be.
Jesus’ parable was about a sheepfold, a door, and a good shepherd. In it He let both His disciples and the man born blind know there was a place in this fold for them even though they were thrust out of the Temple and synagogue. None would be left stranded.
Using the “I am” formula reminiscent of chapter 8, Jesus said, “I am the door,” and “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:7, 11). “All who came before me,” He said, in essence, “were thieves and robbers. They made false claims. They stole the presence of God from you. They stole the Temple from you. They stole access to the most high God from you. They put you out, but don’t despair; there is something far better.”
In a parabolic manner Jesus introduced His church. Neither this man nor His disciples had need to worry. He implied it would be so much greater, so much more excellent (II Corinthians 3:8-10) that it defied comparison. It would have one door and one shepherd whose voice alone could beckon the sheep to this one fold.
The concept of a sheepfold is quite uncomplicated. It is an enclosure designed to keep sheep in and wolves out. The enclosure was a protection for resting, contented sheep, a place of security from savage beasts.
Later in this chapter, the sheepfold became the Master’s hand when He stated, “Neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand” (John 10:28). With the institution of the church, the picture broadened with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, thrusting forward and outward to embrace both Jew and Gentile into one fold. (See John 10:16.)
This parable should motivate each of us to a careful consideration. If there is only one fold, one door, one voice and one shepherd, where is it in today’s world? There are so many denominations, so many voices heralding their own particular brand of religion, almost all claiming orthodoxy, that they can leave a person in utter confusion. There is a danger of a group’s being a barrier and a stumbling block to God’s truth as were the scribes, Pharisees, and priests in Jesus’ day! Instead of helping, they hindered.
According to this parable, to enter the true fold a person must go through the door. Jesus said He was the door. No one will enter the fold without facing Him.
Ultimately, He is the One humanity will have to deal with, not a denomination or a specific church. He alone will usher each person in, or turn one away.
How then does a person get in Christ? Romans 6:3-5 provides the answer: “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ, were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection.”
Through God’s grace, Jesus opened the door of salvation to His church on the Day of Pentecost. His spokesman, the apostle Peter, possessing the keys to the kingdom personally conferred to him by Christ, gave these instructions to those who received the word he preached: “Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:38-39).
We find five factors in God’s plan of salvation, which represent the door into the fold: grace, faith, repentance, baptism in the name of Jesus Christ, and receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost. God’s grace brought salvation to the world. God incarnate in Christ Jesus is the fullest expression of that grace by the redemption He wrought on the cross when He shed His blood. An individual’s response to that grace is faith. Faith accepts the grace of God in the incarnation, death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Christ as authentic and puts it into action by turning to Him in repentance and being baptized in His name. In response to this faith in action, God remits a person’s sins and bestows the gift of the Holy Ghost upon him. That is salvation!
By going through the door, Jesus Christ, a person enters into the sheepfold. He is the shepherd who searches for and calls the wandering sheep to Himself. He looks after them in the sheepfold, and when they go in and out. He leads them to green pastures and beside still waters. After Christ, the good shepherd, ascended into heaven He came back to shepherd the sheep through His Spirit, which He pours into every believer as on the Day of Pentecost. To go through the door of the sheepfold is to identify with Jesus Christ in His death, burial, and resurrection.
Jesus mentioned some sheep not yet of this fold whom He would bring into it. He referred to the Gentiles, whom He would adopt into the fold later on, as recorded in Acts 10.
In this discourse Jesus gave the qualification of a true shepherd as one who will lay down His life for the sheep. He was headed in that direction and in six months would be there!
Following this disclosure, Jesus reiterated His complete, inseparable union with the Father, returning to the theme of John 2:19-21. He restated His power and authority to lay down His life and take it up again, thereby again emphasizing His omnipotence. He was continuing to answer the questions, “Who art thou?” and “Where is thy Father?”
Jesus did not immediately give a direct answer to these questions. He never exclaimed, “Look who I am! I’m the Son of God. I’m God manifest in the flesh.” However, He said enough, demonstrated enough, implied enough, that the Pharisees arrived at some very definite conclusions. Their suppositions were accumulating to a point of exasperation.
They took decisive action against Him by excommunicating the blind man from the Temple. They sought to take Jesus on several occasions but were unsuccessful. On one occasion they sent officers to arrest Him, but they returned empty-handed when they were overwhelmed by His authoritative manner of speaking.
The Pharisees were incensed and somewhat frustrated by their inability to secure reliable evidence to condemn Him. If He would speak plainly, divulging His true identity, they would have it. But that was the problem. He seemed so adept at avoiding the issue, thwarting their every attempt to trap Him.
They wanted Him to say yes or no. But He was far too wise to be ensnared by that ruse. Finally He said, “I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: and I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one” (John 10:25-30).
The plot thickened when He said no one could pluck His disciples out of His hand, then in the next breath added that no one could pluck them out of the Father’s hand. Were they the same hands, or were these sheep in two different hands? What was He suggesting? As though to answer their unasked question, Jesus uttered a most significant statement about Himself. “I and my Father are one. “The Jews sprang into action immediately. They had sought a clear annunciation and here it was. Really, they got more than they asked for. They reached for the stones again. In their opinion, He had blasphemed their God once more and deserved death by stoning, the most severe method of execution that their law allowed them to impose. Finally, after months of perseverance the evidence was in their hands that in their estimation, justified their proceeding with stoning. They had both the evidence and several witnesses to substantiate it.
As Jesus saw them gathering stones, instead of slipping out of their presence as before He questioned, “Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me?” (John 10:32).
The Jews replied promptly, “For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God” (John 10:33).
Had their accusation been correct it would have been a justifiable course of action. It was backwards, however, for instead of a man making himself God, He was God making Himself man (John 1: 1, 14). A man making himself God will be the role of the coming antichrist (II Thessalonians 2:3-4).
This startling utterance of Christ, “I and my Father are one,” has come under some severe scrutiny, with very few willing to permit it to stand on its own merits. Almost every exposition attempts to explain away its direct meaning. It does not fit most theological molds. Looking at it realistically, however, is not this what Jesus implied on numerous occasions? Was this not a clear declaration of His deity, an obvious admission of an indivisible, inseparable oneness with the Father? Were the two hands not one hand, the hand of the one being the hand of the other?
Jesus went on to explain, “If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do, though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him” (John 10:37-38).
Actually Jesus was explaining, “I reach out My hand to heal the sick, but My hand, although flesh, is the Father’s hand. I am not alone; My Father lives in Me, dwells in Me, is on location in Me, has taken up residence in Me.”
This incident expresses the central point of John’s Gospel. Jesus is the Son of God-that is the obvious message, the tone-but He is much more than that. When we see Him, we see the Father-that is the overtone. “I and my Father are one.”
This article is an excerpt from Brother Kinzie’s new book, John, The Gospel That Had To Be Written. Some editing has been done for this publication.
The Above Material Was Published By The Pentecostal Herald, December, 1995, Pages 15, 16, 20. This Material Is Copyrighted And May Be Used For Study & Research Purposes Only.