‘I AM’ The Gate


‘Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.’ John 10:1-6

This is a continuation of the previous chapter. The chapter division is placed to cut the conversation in half. And so, we have Jesus speaking, continuing to answer the question asked in John 9:40, by a group of Pharisees.

Jesus condemns the unfaithful shepherds of Israel, they had cast out the once blind man, John 9:34, but Jesus the good shepherd had received him and helped him, John 9:35-38.

The blind man had been healed and this situation with the Pharisees had arisen as a result of Jesus seeking the man after he had been thrown out of the synagogue by the Jewish authorities.

The good shepherd is now denouncing the unfaithful shepherds as did the prophets of old, Isaiah 56:9-12 / Jeremiah 23:1-4 / Jeremiah 25:34-38 / Ezekiel 34 / Zechariah 11.

The term ‘verily’, ‘I tell you the truth’, John 10:1, generally is used by Jesus to emphasise a point He was making.

In this case, the sheep pen was a walled enclosure having no roof and space or gate at one end in which the sheep were kept for the night. If it were attached to a building or were near a town it would have a wooden door. Jesus was the gate or door, John 10:1.

However, some people try to prevent the owner of the sheep from having these sheep. These thieves and robbers, John 10:2, are the Pharisees and other Jews and the methods used are, as seen in the previous chapter, intimidation, bullying, threatening and removal from the synagogue, they were usurping God’s authority over them His own people.

Jesus uses both the gate and the shepherd to describe Himself. The gatekeeper would look after the sheep in the pen at night, John 10:2-3. He would lie down across the gate so if anything came to attack the sheep he would defend them.

Sometimes a gatekeeper would be hired to look after the sheep, as he did not own the sheep. He would not put his life at risk to protect them. Several flocks from an area could be kept in one pen to stay the night together.

The true shepherd would have every right to enter by the door. When the shepherd came, all the sheep belonging to him would recognise his voice and follow. Christians should recognise the voice of Jesus and follow Him, John 10:4-5.

British shepherds drive their flocks and elders and evangelists should lead the flock, 1 Peter 5:1-5. Too often they drive or drag, rather than lead by example, they are reactive rather than active. The flock ought to listen to the voice of the shepherd.

When others try to lure us away from Christ, we can see through them and cling to Christ. It’s not surprising that the Pharisees didn’t understand, they were blind to the spiritual application of Jesus’ words, John 10:6.


‘Therefore, Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” John 10:7-11


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, John 20:30-31.

Here we find the fourth of seven of Jesus’ I AM’ claims, John 6:35 / John 8:12 / John 8:58 / John 10:9 / John 10:11 / John 11:25 / John 14:6 / John 15:1.

Each of His ‘I AM’ claims are claims that He is God, EGO EIMI, is the Greek equivalent of YHWH, Exodus 3:13-14 / John 5:18. He is Eternal, Psalm 135:13, and self-existent, Psalm 88:6-7.

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.

Because the Pharisees still didn’t understand what Jesus was saying, He again explained, using Himself as the gate, John 10:7 / John 10:9. All who enter by the gate are legitimate, as opposed to those who climb over the wall, John 10:1.

Thieves and robbers, John 10:8, are those who had come before claiming Messiahship were illegitimate, they were self-appointed leaders who made havoc on the flock, as they attempted to hijack the masses.

However, Jesus also includes here the Jewish hierarchy at the time, many of whom were only concerned about personal power and gain. The Sadducees were notorious for their money-making schemes, and many Pharisees were covetous, Luke 16:14 / Mark 12:40, and although many listened to these imposters, ‘the sheep,’ the true people of God did not listen them, John 10:8.

Jesus emphasizes His ‘gate-hood’, and that all who enter through Him are safe within the realm of Jesus and can move about in the world but not of the world, John 10:9. The result of the entering is eternal life, John 10:10. Jesus getting down to the ‘nitty-gritty’ of Christianity.

Entrance into the fold of divine favour is exclusively through Jesus, John 10:9 / John 14:6. ‘He can come in and out’, John 10:9, means he who listens to Jesus will be safe and sound as he goes in and out of the pen to find his food.

The word, ‘kill’ in John 10:10, means to mutilate, rather than annihilate. The religious bodies had no real concern for the people but rather hold them in contempt, John 7:49 / Matthew 23:35. Jesus came to give them abundant life, which means ‘life to the full’, till it overflows, now as in heaven, John 10:10.

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 the 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 on the atonement for sin and makes no importance on the cross or the resurrection.

The teaching of self-justification and self-empowered salvation does not make the need for 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 nor 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 practised in the church clearly, shows this fact, 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.