Scriptures

‘I AM’ The Door

Introduction

Jesus Christ! The great ‘I AM’ The significance of ‘I AM’

‘Then Moses said to God, ‘If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your Fathers has sent me to you’ and they ask me, ‘what is his name?’ ‘What shall I say to them?’ And God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM’. And he said, ‘Say to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ Exodus 3:13-14.

‘I AM EHYEH’ first singular present of TO BE. HAYAH denotes that God is personal, eternal, self-existent i.e. absolute being.

1. Eternal.

Psalm 135:13 ‘Thy name, of YHWH, endures for ever, the renown, o YHWH, throughout all ages’.

2. Self-existent.

Psalm 88:6-7 ‘For who in the skies can be compared to YHWH? who among the heavenly beings is like YHWH, God feared in the council of the holy ones, great and terrible above all that are round about him?’

Then God, having revealed to Moses some essential aspects of His (God’s) personality informs Moses of the name by which He (God) wants to be known. God also said to Moses,

‘Say this to the people of Israel, ‘YHWH the God of your fathers, has sent me to you, this is my name for ever and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.’ Exodus 3:75 / Psalm 135:13.

YAHWEH plural form

Genesis 1:26, ‘Then God said, ‘Let US make man in OUR image, after OUR likeness’.

The plural in the name YHWH, us and our, can in my opinion be regarded as an indication of the plurality of God’s nature and character, of which the Son and the Holy Spirit are part; three distinct persons who can act individually though never in disharmony and who are united in the godhead as one God. That the Spirit i.e. the force of God was there at creation is clear,

‘and the Spirit of God was moving over the face of the waters’. Genesis 1:2

That through Jesus all came into being is stated in John 1:1-3.

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God with God. All things were made through Hem and without Him was not anything made that was made’. John 1:1-3

And,

‘No one has ever seen God, He who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known’. John 1:18

It was through Jesus, i.e. God Himself Incarnate that redemption would be wrought.

The name YHWH meaning ‘the Becoming One’ is the ‘redemptive’ name of God and refers to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ who is in the bosom of the ‘Father’ God; Jesus who is part of the Godhead. When Jesus made Himself equal with God He was merely speaking the truth and had indeed every right to utter the words, ‘I AM’ in such a special way. The Jews understood perfectly well what was alluded to by the term I AM used by Jesus.

‘This was why the Jews sought all the more to kill him, because he not only broke the Sabbath but also called God his own Father, making himself equal with God.’ John 5:18 / Leviticus 24:16

Now remember the Bible doesn’t use names for God in the same way as we use names today. God doesn’t have a name as such but He uses certain words to describe His character or nature.

For example, the word El-Shaddai describes His nature as the all sufficient one, the all-powerful One. The word Adonia describes His character as Lord, Master, the One with all authority. The word Yahweh describes His nature as the everlasting, self-existing One.

And so when God speaks to Moses, He is not giving Moses a name as we understand it. But He’s telling Moses to tell His people that Yahweh, ‘I AM THAT I AM’, the self-existing One has sent you. God is basically saying to Moses I don’t need a name but I will give you one to tell my people.

Now remember the Israelites have been in captivity in Egypt for 400 years and so God goes on to say in Exodus 3:15 just in case my people have forgotten who ‘I AM’, tell them

‘The LORD, (The One with all authority), the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob has sent me to you.’

Now let’s fast forward a couple of thousand years. We know that the Gospel according to Matthew focuses a lot on prophecy where Matthew points out time and time again that Jesus is the promised Messiah.

The Gospel according to Mark focuses a lot on Jesus’ miracles and Mark uses the word ‘immediately’ regularly. The Gospel according to Luke focuses a lot on Jesus’ humanity and shows Jesus as being the Son of man. And finally, the Gospel according to John focuses a lot on Jesus being the Son of God which shows the Deity of Christ.

But have you ever wondered why all the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus are found in John’s Gospel?

John writes in John 20:30-31

‘Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name’.

Now John never uses the word miracle in his gospel but he does use the word sign regularly. And there are 16 signs recorded in John’s gospel, 8 are things which Jesus did and 8 were things which Jesus said. John is basically saying that the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus are signs, selected from many other signs. And he says these signs are selected with a purpose in mind and that purpose is that you believe that Jesus Christ is who He claimed to be.

And so just as `I AM’ is God’s own identification of Himself in Exodus 3:14 to Moses. Remembering that strictly speaking, it is not a name, but a declaration of His Nature. When we come to the ‘I AM’ claims of Jesus, we need to remember that Jesus was not giving Himself a Name or a title, but was asserting His Deity. In other words every ‘I AM’ reveals some aspect of His nature and purpose.

‘I AM the door’

“Jesus said, ‘I truly say to you, I am the gate for the sheep,” (verse seven).

Immediately after that, the Lord also said,

“I am the good shepherd,” (verse eleven)

His words become a little hard to understand when he says that is both “the gate” and “the shepherd” at the same time.

Thieves and Robbers Don’t Enter through the Gate

‘I am the gate of the sheep.’

This is the gate to the fence around the sheep. In the mornings, the sheep would be led out of the enclosure by the shepherd. Then in the evenings, they would be led back into the protected area and be kept safe. Both the shepherd and the sheep went in and out through the gate. Christ says that I myself am this door to the sheep’s protected area.

The reason he is making reference to this gate to the sheep’s enclosure is that there had been people coming in without going through the gate. That would be the sheep stealers. In verse one, the text says,

‘I truly say to you, though he enters the sheep’s enclosure, he who crosses over any other part of it and doesn’t come through the gate is a thief and is a robber.’ John 10:1

The relationship between the shepherd and his sheep in Palestine is said to be closer than one may find among any other species. The shepherd calls the name of the sheep. The sheep also know the voice of their shepherd. When their shepherd goes into the fenced area and leads them it is only for the purpose of helping them live.

But, in contrast, the sheep stealer isn’t that way. The sheep stealer isn’t coming into the enclosure to help the sheep live. From start to finish the only thing ever on his mind is his own good.

So, Jesus is probably pointing to someone with these words of ‘thief’ and ‘robber.’ When we look at John 10:6, Jesus explains that he told this parable against the sect of the Pharisees.

Because Jesus does not tell the story in the third person, which would have made it unrelated to himself, it is clear that this parable is speaking about the Pharisees. But, they do not fully sense that this speech of Jesus is given about them. For that reason, they were listening quietly.

Then, like he was giving these non-understanding men another blow, the Lord states,

‘All those who have come before I did are thieves and robbers,’ John 10:8

This goes the same way again. Jesus pointed to all of it, the doctrine of the Pharisees who had already been in existence, and the religion of the law that had already been in existence, the system of religious rule that had already been in existence, and he said it was all ‘thieves’ and ‘robbers.’

In other words, their doctrines did not help God’s sheep live in any true sense of the word and he gave them a scathing criticism to that effect and also, he criticised them that from the scratch they were not working to help the sheep live.

The reason something like this is written in one of the gospels is not because some teaching of the Pharisees still remained strongly rooted as a problem long afterwards.

‘Thieves’ and ‘robbers,’ in any time period, sneak in with different forms. As a matter of fact, since the church’s beginning, the church has been troubled by this problem. When we read Paul’s letters, over and over we find references to false teachers.

Doctrines that are not conducive to any real life for the sheep, doctrines that do not bring life, doctrines that instead of bringing life would snatch life away and bring on murder instead, this type of doctrine has taken on various different forms and has snuck on in. Today it’s the same way.

So, it becomes important to tell things apart. We have to listen with distinctions in mind. The text says,

‘But, the sheep did not listen to what they had said,’ John 10:8

Likewise, then, it is imperative that one is not led by the thieves and the robbers.

So far then the problem is about where the differences are between the true shepherd and the thief. One of those differences, says the Lord, is

‘Where do they come in through?’

The shepherd enters in through the gate, he leads the sheep to go through that gate. The thief avoids the gate, enters from somewhere else, and takes the sheep out from some other place except for the gate.

What does the gate stand for?

Christ says,

‘I truly say to you, I am the gate of the sheep,’ John 10:7

Christ is the gate. The problem lies in whether or not you are coming in through Christ and whether or not you are being led to go through Christ. We must look there.

The Person Who Comes Through The Gate Will Be Saved

Now, what does it mean to say one goes through Christ?

Taking it further, Christ said this,

‘I am the gate. He who comes through me will be saved. He will go in and out of my gate and find pasture,’ John 10:9

That gate is the gate of salvation.

Also, it is a gate for those who have partaken of salvation to receive daily nourishment and to live the abundant life. Christ says he is that kind of gate. However, in order to be this gate for the sheep, there was something Christ had on his mind. Christ the gate says He is ‘the good shepherd’ at the same time.

The good shepherd gives His life away for His sheep. What Christ had on his mind was that he would be laying down his life for his sheep. He would surrender His life because of His love for his sheep and no one was snatching His life away, and besides that He would re-claim His life.

In John 10:18, the text puts it like this,

‘No one is able to snatch away my life from me. I give it away by myself. I can give my life away, I can take it back again. This is the commandment I have received from my father.’

He gives his life away. Then he will take it back. This obviously points to Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection. Christ said,

‘I am the door for the sheep.’

Christ the door for the sheep, if we go the next step with that, is the crucified and the risen Christ. If we define it in strictest of terms, he is

‘the crucified to atone for our sins and resurrected Christ.’

This indeed is the gate of the sheep, it is the very gate of salvation.

The teaching that one comes in without going through this gate of the sheep is a salvation teaching that makes no importance of the atonement for sin and makes no importance of the cross or the resurrection. The teaching of selfjustification and self-empowered salvation does not make need of the atonement for sin. The teaching of the Pharisees was truly like that.

According to them, a person keeps the law and will be saved. A person will arrive at eternal life by his or her good works. If that were so, there would be no need for the atonement, would there?

Also, the heresy that would later be called Gnosticism was the same way. The religious elite who had acquired a special knowledge would be saved. Theirs was a religion of self-empowered deliverance but under a different guise. With them then, the atonement wasn’t necessary.

Or even, today some who may knock on the gates of our church or some who try to read the scriptures may have thoughts like this,

‘Good things are written in the scriptures. Won’t you become a good person if you study something good? Won’t you be saved if you become a good person? The man called Jesus was a man of love. Let’s live by emulating the one named Jesus. Let’s live by keeping his teachings of love. Won’t I too become a person of love if I do that? By doing that, it will lead to saving others and to saving me.’

But, if one is saved by that means, the atonement for sin is no longer needed. Neither would the cross or the resurrection be needed either. If that were true, we might just read Christ’s sermon on the Mount alone, Matthew 5-7. But, as for Christ, Christ says,

‘He who crosses over from some other place without entering through the gate is a thief and is a robber.’

He says that the person who enters in without going through the gate does not bring true life or salvation.

Why is that?

Because the Lord knows the depth of humanity’s sin and because the problem of human sin is not resolved by the law. A human being will not be saved by becoming a little bit better or by improving little by little.

So, instead of our dying, Christ died for us.

‘Once a fool always a fool to the grave.’

For us like that, Christ died. Bearing our sins on his back, in our place, Christ died as a sinner. Therefore, when we believe in Christ and are joined to him, we participate in Christ’s death and we ourselves become dead. This is so that we will live the new life as persons who were once dead. Yes, indeed: We can live anew.

Baptism as practiced in the church clearly shows this fact.

‘We are buried with Christ through baptism and have become partakers of his death. It is so that we too will live new lives just as Christ was resurrected from the dead by the glory of the father.’ Romans 6:4

Christ said,

‘I am the gate. He who enters through me will be saved.’

Coming through the gate called Christ, becoming a sheep of Christ, that is a sheep which is within Christ’s protective enclosure means believing in Christ, being dead with Christ, and becoming a person who lives the new life. That’s where salvation is. Christ has become that kind of gate. He has become the opened gate of salvation!

So, the sheep who have come through the opened gate called Christ will live by daily nourishment through the true shepherd called Christ, even until their attainment of the completion of that salvation.

 

DAILY BIBLE VERSE

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world."

John 16:33

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