In biblical literature, it always matters which side of the door you are on. Think about the door to the ark, the doors of Goshen when the Angel of Death passed over the Hebrew houses, the door the foolish virgins found locked up tighter than a drum when the bridegroom finally showed. In all these cases, and more, it mattered which side of the door you were on.
Jesus, the Master of Metaphor, reinforced this idea when He gave us His third I am statement, this time declaring Himself to be the door of the sheep. True to form, Jesus was using the physical (sheep and sheep pens) to explain our spiritual condition (the wrong side of the most important door of all):
The sheep: us...The sheep pen: spiritual death...Outside the pen: spiritual life...In between: a door...The door: Jesus.
In Luke 13, Jesus said we enter the kingdom of God through the narrow door, but in John 10, He was less cryptic: “I am the door. Whoever enters through me will be saved.” It matters which side of the door you are on.
Thankfully, He did not leave us to wonder what He meant by declaring Himself the door. He expanded the metaphor to include “enter.” To enter, here, represents the act of faith. Just like to eat the bread of life is to believe. Likewise, to see is a metaphor for understanding. We must understand our need for the spiritual life He offers. To see this, we must be enlightened by the light of the world. See how these are all connected? In the same way, to enter is a metaphor for a step of faith. And a step of faith through this door will save you from spiritual death.
Side note: Saved by the way is in the passive voice, which means it is done for the sheep. They don’t save themselves. They must enter (believe in faith) and they are saved.
“I am the door of the sheep; whoever enters through me will be saved.…I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full." So as we step through this door, we move from death and into life. Out of all the life-sucking brokenness that is part of being on the wrong side of the door and in to lush life-giving pasture, rest, nurture. Out of rejection, legalism, and bitterness, and in to acceptance, healing, and joy. Out of bondage, fear, and despair and in to freedom, peace, and hope…a hope that will not disappoint.
In Hosea, God speaks this hope over His people Israel: “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. Then I will give her her vineyards from there, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt” (Hosea 2:15).
In the wilderness, in the hard place of trial and failure and suffering, God is going to restore Israel, to give her back her vineyards from there. And in what He calls the Valley of Achor, which means the Valley of Trouble, they will find a door of hope. A place of great sorrow for them – for Achor was a big, messy Israelite failure – was actually a place of hope and would eventually become a place of great victory. Their weakest point, His greatest victory. His lovingkindness, their greatest hope.
For some of us, we need to be reminded that in our desert places – seasons where we hurt and cry and wonder why heaven is silent – there is always a door of hope. I think it is precisely in our wildernesses, wandering through disappointment and suffering, that we will find Him doing His best work of sustaining us, restoring us, and speaking tenderly to us.
And the message of I am the door is that even in the valley of trouble, especially there, there is a door of hope. Jesus is that door. Step through it and you will find your circumstances have not necessarily changed – you will probably still be in the wilderness – but step through that door and you will find all that you need to survive your desert place: bread, light, lush pasture. And hope.