Jesus: the Door of the Sheep

Of the seven names of Jesus given in the gospel of John, His name the Door of the Sheep is probably the hardest one for us to understand in our modern Western culture. So to understand what Jesus meant by this we need to examine what life was like for sheep and shepherds in Jesus’ day.

In Palestine, the areas where the sheep would graze were infested with wild beasts. Because of this, each village had a large sheepfold which was protected by a wall often ten or more feet tall. As night fell, the shepherds of the village would lead their sheep through the opening into the sheepfold for their safety. In this place of shelter, the sheep could rest in safety during the night, guarded by one watchman or porter. Most of these sheepfolds did not have a door or gate, so the porter would lie down in the opening so that robbers and wild animals had to go through him to get to the sheep. Then in the morning, when the shepherds returned, each one would call the sheep that belonged to their flock, the sheep would respond to the familiar voice, and the shepherd would lead his flock out to pasture.

As the Door of the Sheep, Jesus is the only door into the kingdom of God, the “sheepfold” of God’s people. John 10:9 promises us, “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”

The Greek word “nome” translated pasture here means “the needful supplies for the true life” (from The Blue Letter Bible, Outline of Bible Usage). Jesus will lead us to the green pastures of Psalm 23:2, where all of our needs are met.

Jesus is also the One who protects us against spiritual predators. Nothing is able to touch our lives as His people without His permission. And what He permits, He promises to use for our good (Romans 8:28) and His glory?

And these truths are reason to give Him thanks!


I Am the Light of the World

Lights are one of my favorite Christmas decorations, from the lights on the Christmas tree to the lighted star on the top of the tree to the festive candles sitting around our living room. One tradition our family has as part of our Christmas Eve celebration is to attend the Candlelight service at our church, then come home, light the tree and candles, and sit around and eat snacks and open gifts while we listen to Christmas carols. A very appropriate way to remember the birthday of the Light of the world!

When Jesus said He is the Light of the world, He was identifying Himself as the fulfillment of the promise in Isaiah 9:2,  “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in a land of deep darkness, on them has light shone.” As with the last two “I am” statements, Jesus was claiming to be the promised Messiah of the Old Testament Scriptures.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭2:9‬ ‭ESV‬‬)

Thank You, Jesus for calling me out of darkness and into Your marvelous light when I was a young adult. Until then, I knew about You but I didn’t know You personally. Now my desire is to proclaim Your excellencies to all who will listen.


Jesus: The Bread of Life

Today, we usually think of bread as an add-on to a meal, but in Jesus’ time bread was an essential of life. In fact, bread was the one thing necessary to sustain life.

When Jesus said “I am the bread of life,” I wonder how many of those listening to Him had been there the day before when Jesus had miraculously fed the 5,000 with only five barley loaves and two fish? The text seems to indicate that those who experienced this miracle are the same ones who are listening to Jesus’ words the next day. But Jesus saw beneath the surface, into their hearts, and He recognized they were seeking Him not because they wanted what He came to give but because they ate their fill of the loaves. Their eyes were on the miracle, not the miracle worker.

In John 6:27, Jesus says, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you.” This spiritual food was what Jesus had in mind when He said, “I am the bread of life.” This is the bread that satisfies, that leads to life eternal.

Jesus, You are the true bread of life, the bread that sustains us no matter what we face in this life. Thank You for giving Your flesh as the bread that gives us life.

I Am The Way, The Truth, and The Life

Famous last words! Important last words! Jesus was gathered with His disciples during what He knew would be their last gathering before He fulfilled the purpose of His Father and faced the Cross. These very familiar words are part of what is known as the Farewell Discourse, when Jesus gathered in the Upper Room to celebrate His last Passover with His disciples and prepare them for what He knew was ahead of them. Jesus was facing the Cross, and He needed to prepare these men who had walked with Him for over three years for the dark days that lay ahead.

Let’s break down what He said.

  • I AM – This is one of the seven I AM statements of Jesus, probably the best known of the seven. In the Greek language, “I AM” is a very intense way of referring to oneself. In Exodus 3:14, God used the same intensive form (in Hebrew), “God said to Moses, ‘I am who I am.’ And he said, ‘Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’ ” When the Jews heard these words, they understood Jesus was claiming to be God.
  • THE – By the use of the definite article “the,” Jesus was saying HE AND NO OTHER.
  • THE WAY – The ONLY WAY! Not one way of many. The only path leading to the Father and His eternal heavenly kingdom.

In a pluralistic society like ancient Rome, and in our own society today, these were not easily accepted words. Other religions are not the way. Good works are not the way. Jesus was saying He and He alone is the way, the truth, and the life.

Father, today I’m grateful that Your Word so clearly teaches there is only one way to a relationship with You, and it is through faith in Your Son Jesus Christ and the work He accomplished on the Cross. Thank You for showing me this truth many years ago and bringing me into Your Kingdom. Thank You also for the truth in Your Word, both in written form and in the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ. And thank You for the confidence that when this life is over I will go to be in Your presence forever.


Christ: The Anointed One

Other than the name Jesus, the title most familiar to us and used most often in the New Testament for our Lord and Savior is Christ. Often used in conjunction with the name Jesus, Christ is actually the Greek equivalent to the Hebrew word Messiah.

God promised the ancient Israelites that a Messiah would come to deliver them from their sin. Jesus Christ is that Messiah. Both Christ and Messiah mean “the Anointed One.”

In the Old Testament, three groups of people were anointed with oil: prophets, priests, and kings. When Christ came as the Anointed One, He came as One set apart by God to be our Prophet, Priest, and King.

  • As Prophet, Jesus Christ spoke forth the Words of God. When He raised the dead son of the widow from Nain, Luke 7:16 says of Him, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and “God has visited his people!
  • As our Priest, Hebrews 10:11-12 says, unlike the priests of the Old Covenant who repeatedly offered the same sacrifices, “Christ offered Himself for all time a single sacrifice for sins.”
  • When He returns at His second coming. He will reign at King of Kings. As it says in Revelation 17:14, “They (ten kings who give power to the beast) will make war on the Lamb, and the Lamb will conquer them, for he is Lord of lords and King of kings…”

Isaiah 61:1 -2a speaks of this Anointed One Who was to come, “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor…”

Jesus quoted these words in the Temple, as recoded in Luke 4:18-19, clearly identifying Himself as this Anointed One.

My heart is full of gratitude today that I have come to know Jesus Christ as the Prophet Who regularly speaks forth the Words of God into my life, as the Priest who offered the perfect sacrifice for my sin, and as my soon coming King. Without Him in my life, I would be a spiritual beggar, brokenhearted, captive and imprisoned by sin.


Jesus: “Jehovah is salvation”

During the Advent season, I will be doing a brief daily blog post on one of the names of Jesus. This is part of an Advent Gratitude Challenge from two very special friends of mine, Laurie Martin and Lyudmila Boring. Christmas is all about Jesus, and Advent is a time for shifting our focus off of the commercialism of the holiday season and turning our eyes on the true meaning of Christmas. I invite you to join me in this Advent Challenge.

Father, today I give You thanks for sending Jesus to save me from my sin. You sent Your own Son to pay the penalty for our sin, a plan You had from the beginning. By grace through faith in the finished work of Jesus on the cross, my sins were forgiven and I became a member of Your family. And for that, I am eternally grateful.

As a child, I was in church every week, even teaching a Sunday School class as I became a teenager, so I was very familiar with the story of Jesus’ birth, life, death and resurrection. But during my first year on my own, beginning a new job as a kindergarten teacher, my eyes were opened to my own need for salvation. I made a personal commitment of my life and accepted Jesus as my Savior and Lord. This was the beginning of a lifetime of moving past religion into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ.

I remember the first Christmas after my eyes were opened to the true meaning of the holiday season. It was a special holiday, as I purchased my first manger scene, put in under our Christmas tree, and spent hours just looking at it and reflecting on what Jesus had done in my life. And now forty-six years later, the wonder of the Christmas message still has not faded.

The Benefits of Brokenness

In February 2017, when I was asked to be a team leader for God-Living Girls with Chronic Illness first Virtual Retreat Weekend, I had no idea how fitting the focus of these three days was for what laid ahead for our family during the rest of this year. We were doing a study of the recently released book and video series by Ann Voskamp, The Broken Way:A Daring Path into the Abundant Life.

The retreat was encouraging, but what our family has faced in the months since then has been difficult. Legal issues concerning the property we inherited from my husband’s mother, high monthly property tax payments that strain our budget to the point of collapse, the loss of our only vehicle due to mechanical problems, damage to our home from Hurricane Harvey, and our special-needs, medically fragile son’s life-threatening illness made worse by lack of available medication during the hurricane – all of these have made for a year where brokenness is no longer a theory I read about in a book.

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