Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the door for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture." John 10:7-9

In our rapid survey of these varied Shepherd-picturings of sacred story, we have here reached the truth of all truths—Christ the Door into the sheepfold; Christ the Way of salvation, the Entrance-gate to heaven. What the foundation is to a house, what the heart is to the human body, what the roots are to the tree, what the key-stone is to the arch, what the sun is to the circling planets, so does this great theme stand related to all the other doctrines of the Bible system.

The verse which precedes this chapter, offers, in its successive clauses, three different topics for meditation. The Savior, "I am the door;" Faith laying hold of the Savior, "whoever enters through me will be saved;" and the privileges and blessedness of the saved, "They shall go in and out, and find pasture."

First, we have THE DOOR—"I am the door: by Me." In every age of the world there has been a groping for this wicket-gate, a seeking for the entrance to the true pasturage of life. Men, like the blinded citizens of Sodom of old, have been wearying themselves to find the door; and manifold have been the human systems and human devices that have sought to mimic the call of the true Shepherd.

Paganism has been crying, "I am the door." She has made an approach through hecatombs of human sacrifice—giving the fruit of the body for the sin of the soul.

Morality has been saying, and is still saying, "I am the door." Her creed is: 'Every man is his own door to the fold. Live well, do good, be kind, and amiable, and virtuous, and charitable. With moral principle and unblemished life, you will be independent of all other wicket-gates—you have the means of salvation within yourself.' As you may have seen the green ivy torn from the old crumbling ruin, to deck up and decorate the triumphal arch; so morality tries thus to deck up her archway into the pastures of peace, with rootless flowers, plucked from the ruins of our fallen nature.

Ceremonialism proclaims, "I am the door." She appeared, in our Savior's days, amid the wasted forms of Judaism, pointing to ancestral privileges, the old covenant promises. Ornately-clothed priests, with their scrupulous ritual observances, their legal washings and outward purification; Scribes and Pharisees, tithing mint and dill and cummin, gilding the prophets' sepulchers, and uttering long prayers, stood with broad phylacteries, as sentinels at the entrance, saying, "We have Abraham for our father—none but the children of Abraham, with the seal of circumcision, can pass here!" She has appeared in modern times, making her doorway, at one time through sacramental efficacy; at another, through the shibboleth of party and denominational distinction. At one time making the drops of water in baptism say, 'Through me you shall be saved;' at another, making the minister or priest the custodian of the soul's safety—the gate of admission, an entrance built with untempered mortar!

But "I am the door," says a divine Savior, after the world had in vain, for four thousand years, groped in the dark for the true way. All other ways are spurious, all other doors are false and counterfeit. There are many ways that may seem right, but the end thereof are the ways of death. "Look unto Me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else." It is hard, indeed, for the natural man to surrender all his own efforts and labors, his virtues and goodness, and to be indebted, from first to last, to the doing and dying of Another. Hence the universal striving of the human race to find a door of their own into the fold, going about to establish their own righteousness, and refusing to submit themselves to the righteousness of Christ.

There is something, moreover, pleasing to this nature of ours, in the old condition of "work and win." In other things we commend the principle. It is delightful to see a man, by dint of his own talent or indomitable perseverance, climbing his way to eminence and distinction; or, by bold arm and brave heart, sweeping all but insurmountable difficulties aside. It is delightful to see the working artisan, by means of energy, and brain, and toil, rising from the lowly cottage to the pinnacles of society. It is delightful to see the student—the son of peasant or mechanic—asserting the true nobility of genius, and, from lowly birth and obscure origin, becoming a fountain of wisdom; or, in high places, wielding and influencing a nation's destinies. It is noble to see the soldier, under fearful odds, facing the bristling ramparts, and, amid shot and shell, mounting the breach.

But in the matter of salvation—merit, self-glory, there is none. "Where is boasting?" exclaims the Apostle; "it is excluded." There is no climbing up by any other door in the matter of salvation. There is no other lever by which the soul of fallen humanity can be raised out of the horrible pit and the miry clay. Just as all modern dynamics are puzzled and perplexed to find the lost power by which those colossal stones could have been upheaved in the temples of Memphis, or the Pyramids of Cairo; so all moral dynamics of which man is the inventor are vain to account for the elevation of the polished stones adorning the Heavenly temple—redeemed saints in glory.

It was no inherent power, no effort of human wisdom, no device of human ingenuity, no recompense of human merit, which brought them there. Here is the one only leverage, "CHRIST, the power of God unto salvation unto every one who believes. " "HE has raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places." Neither is there salvation in any other, "for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved."

Let us pass to the second clause of the verse, or FAITH LAYING HOLD OF THE SAVIOR, "By Me, if any man enter in he shall be saved." Christ, we have seen, is the Door of Salvation. Wide enough too is that door for the admission of all. "If any man," is the superscription on its portals. Whatever be the age, the country, the color of skin; rich or poor, young or old, bond or free—free as that sun in heaven which shines with indiscriminate splendor on molehill and mountain, on cottage and palace, on blade of grass and stately palm or cedar—free as that mountain-stream, singing its way, amid birch and heather, to lake or ocean—free as that stream is to the fish that sports in its pools, or to the wild deer of the forest or to the wayside pilgrim to slake their thirst—free as that ocean is to every vessel and every craft, from the rude fisherman's boat and the plank of the castaway, to the iron fortress, carrying its impenetrable sheathing and its sleeping thunders—so free is that door of entrance into the fold of the Heavenly Shepherd. Around it, rich and poor may congregate together, with this plea, 'The Lord is the Redeemer of us all.'

It is not like the doors opening into the high places of the world. These are patent only to the favored few. These can only be opened by the key of influence, or merit, or intellect, or rank, or money (the golden key which fits all locks); while the multitude—the vast majority—stand outside, excluded. But all are warranted and welcome here. Although, however, this is true, and we glory in the fullness and freeness of the Gospel Salvation, yet its blessings are appropriated by faith. We are not mere passive machines, incapable of moral action, to be dragged in by force into the fold. We must reach out the hand of faith to accept the proffered blessing. We must "enter in" if we would be saved, and enjoy the heavenly pasturage. God gives us Salvation as a beauteous Flower. But He does not give us that flower full blown. He gives it to us in seed. He has prepared the soil for it. He holds in His treasuries the sun, and winds, and rains, and dews that are to nurture it. The glory of that flower will be all His, but if we do not plant it, it will not grow!

God gives us Salvation as a Ship. He says, 'There is a vessel. I give you hulk, masts, rigging, helm, sails; water (the element through which it is to cleave its way); winds (to fill its canvas); a safe and commodious haven to receive it at last. But it is for you to avail yourselves of these. If you misuse them—if you mis-time them—if you neglect them—if you cast anchor out when you should be spreading your sails, and thus forfeit the favoring breeze—if you sleep your opportunities away of clearing the harbor—you never can reach the haven where you would be!

God gives us Salvation as a Home. He points the pilgrim, in the blue distance, to the purchased inheritance. He provides him with staff and provender. He gives him feet to walk, and eyes to see, and strength and muscle, and guidebook for the journey. But if he casts these aside, and waste the live-long day in folly or in slumber, the night will overtake him, and leave him unsheltered in the darkness and gloom!

God gives Salvation as a Fire. He provides the fuel; but He leaves you to kindle it. The means for imparting warmth are all of His own providing. You yourself can neither manufacture wood, nor coal, nor atmospheric air. But the air is given; it is in abundance around you. The faggots are piled up beside the hearth; but if you want to get warm, you must heap them together and kindle them. Neglect this, and you will continue shivering in cold, and perish in the midst of plenty!

The poor cripple at Bethesda, whatever might be the virtues of the troubled pool, had to "step in" if he would be whole of whatever disease he had; and if others were more alert than he, or if he procrastinated and lingered, he forfeited the cure. Paul, though he had a divine assurance during the storm, that there would be the loss of no man's life, but only of the ship, yet worked unremittingly at the pumps, and sails, and rigging, as if the safety of everyone on board depended on his exertions.

Yes, I repeat, Faith, as spoken of by Christ, is a thing of action. He never represents it as a dreamy sentiment. Listen to some of the freest and most glorious of His invitations—"Come unto me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." "Whoever will, let him take of the water of life freely." "Enter in at the strait gate." "Strive to enter in at the strait gate." "If any man enters in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." Away, then, with this dishonoring religion that would degrade man into a mere automaton—deprive him of will, choice, and moral responsibility. The wicket-gate is open—the Savior-Shepherd is addressing in language of importunate invitation. But it is for you to rise and obey the summons. The ladder of salvation, like Jacob's of old, stretches from earth to heaven. But the ladder must be climbed. You never can enter "within the gate into the city," if you remain, like the patriarch, slumbering at its base!

What is the reason that so many refuse to obey the invitation and enter in? It is because they object to comply with the one only binding condition. They enter; but they would enter and partake of the heavenly pasturage with their sins too. They would take Christ as a Savior, but not as a Sanctifier. They would take Christ as a Priest, but not as a King. There can be no admission on such ungospel terms. That door, wide enough to admit all, is too narrow to admit any while carrying the load of known and indulged sin.

Think of a man—a drowning man—escaping from the sinking ship. He has enough to do to buffet his way through tempest and surging sea—yet he rushes back to rescue some hoarded gold. He might have reached the rocks girdling the shore, if he had taken nothing to hamper or impede him. But those dead weights have dragged him to his grave in sight of safety. He and his gold perish together! Ah! remember that solemn truth—that Jesus saves you FROM your sins—not IN your sins.

As Paul, in that same threatened shipwreck, counseled that all the vessel's freight and treasures should be cast into the deep; so be it yours to say, with reference to every loved and cherished sin, "Yes, doubtless, I count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord."

There yet remains to be noticed, the DESCRIPTION HERE GIVEN OF THE SAVED—their privileges and blessedness; they "shall go in and out, and find pasture." This beautifully describes the Christian, in his relation to the world. He "goes in and out from the fold;" he goes to and from the world, with his Lord ever in view. From Christ and His cross he draws his every motive for duty in the midst of life's labors and occupations. He goes out to the world, through Christ "the door." He returns from the world through the same. He looks to Him as the alone path of safety. In the words of Zechariah, he "walks up and down in His name." Happy for the Church and for the believer, if the sense of Jesus' presence and love were thus interfused through all work and toil—if out in the world's bleaker pasture-ground—as well as within, in the quiet of the homestead—the eye were ever directed towards that open door.

Jesus is elsewhere personated as Wisdom. He is represented as 'opening His voice in the city'—'crying in the chief place of concourse, in the opening of the gates.' And this is true Religion—true Christianity—to carry a sense of a living Savior—the realized consciousness of our covenant relation and consecration to Him, out amid the world's din and bustle—to the Exchange, the shop, the mart of commerce—as well as to the more consecrated pasture grounds where His people feed.

And the Christian, too, may find pasture in both—in public and in private—in the field and the fold—in the world and in the closet. In public, he can be sustained by lofty principles. In private, by prayer and secret fellowship with his Lord. "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ." Having his eye on that door he can say, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."

Thus have we briefly glanced at one of the most precious utterances of the Great Shepherd. How these, and such like gracious words which proceeded out of His mouth, must have told on the wondering multitudes He addressed—those who never heard kind sayings before—who were led to imagine that it was learned scribes, or sanctimonious Pharisees, or austere Sadducees, or stolid priests, who alone had any hope of Salvation! Can we marvel that "the common people heard Him gladly"—when He lifted them up from the dust of degradation; when He proclaimed boldly—"I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance." I came not to call you rich—you learned—you who trust yourselves on your religious formalism and self-righteous austerities—but you broken-hearted penitents, weeping prodigals, despairing Magdalenes—you the most erring wanderers from the fold, who are really and earnestly seeking to return. "If ANY man thirst, let him come unto me and drink." "If ANY man enter in he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."

Reader! Say not, 'This invitation cannot be for me. I cannot enter, just as I am, maimed and fleece-torn, with the memory of countless transgressions.' Yes! it is just because you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, that we invite you to come. Come, just as you are. God does not require any previous qualification. It is because of your poverty that He so importunately exclaims—"Behold, I have set before you an open door." When in a season of scarcity and poverty, thousands thrown out of employment are forced to avail themselves of bread doled out to stop the ravage of hunger; they are not heard to say—'We must have proper clothing first. We must first cover these children's bleeding, frost-bitten feet, before we can venture to appear before the dispensers of a city's or a nation's bounty.' No; if they did so, it would vitiate their plea; it would send them home again to a cupboard, and hearth, and wardrobe, as empty as they left it. It is because they appear in tattered rags, and because hunger has written its appeal on their emaciated faces, and in the hollow eyes of the hapless children at their side, that the door opens for relief.

Remember, there is but the one door of safety, and no other. There was but one way to the Hebrews of old, for evading the destroying angel—by the sprinkling of blood on the doorposts of their dwellings. There was but one way through the Red Sea from the pursuing hosts of Pharaoh. There was but one way for Rahab escaping the general destruction of Jericho—by hanging out from her window the scarlet thread. There was but one way—by washing in the river of Jordan—that the proud Syrian captain could have his leprosy healed. Israel might have built up Egyptian pyramid on pyramid to keep out the messenger of wrath. It would have been of no avail. Or the million army, passing through the Red Sea, might have piled up its coral rocks to make an avenue through the waters. The wild waves would have laughed them to scorn, and made them the plaything of its tide! Naaman might have made a toilsome pilgrimage to every river of Asia—from Abana and Pharpar, to the Euphrates and the Indus—but all would have been to no purpose. Nothing but 'the waters of Israel' would prove efficacious in curing his malady.

Arise, then, make sure of safety; wing your flight to the Rock of Ages. You are only safe when you are found nestling in its crevices. Unmoved by storms, unworn and unsplintered by the destroying hand of time, Jesus, the Living Rock, stands infinite—immutable—all-sufficient—faithful among the faithless—changeless among the changeable.

Yes! you who are weary, sick at heart of the vain world which has deceived you—bubble after bubble bursting in your hands, feeding on the husks of the swine and the rubbish of the wilderness—your Shepherd, with outstretched arms, is waiting to welcome you back. He is standing, as He did eighteen hundred years ago, by the door of the sheepfold, saying, "I am the Door," "Him that comes unto me, I will in no wise cast out!"

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