John 10:7-11 (NKJV) 7 Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.
We have been looking at the two forces that produce either good or evil in the lives of every person. The bible calls these two forces life and death. These natures or forces flow from the person of either God or the devil. Everything that is good in the human condition flows from God. The Garden of Eden is the example of what life without the influence of death would be like.
The fall of man caused the introduction of death into the perfect enjoinment created by God for man. When man sinned he opened the door to the nature of another spiritual being named Satan. The corrupted nature of Satan came into the spirit of man through sin and spread corruption to the whole creation. At that moment, death and evil began to grow in influence until they eventually became the dominant force in the earth.
The life that flows from God is not just a physical force that produces the characteristics of physical life. The life that comes from God is called “Zoe” in the Greek language. This word can be defined as life in the absolute sense. It is life that has no death in it at all. This life is first of all spiritual life. As such, it does not just keep us alive for a few decades on the earth. It is the life that causes us to live forever with the Lord. It is eternal life.
Eternal life affects us spiritually, physically and emotionally. Eternal life brings healing to our bodies, prosperity to our lifestyle and victory in every situation we may face. Eternal life brings health and balance to our emotions and God’s love to all our relationships. When eternal life dominates an individual, they can face any circumstance with confidence knowing that the Lord is there today and that they have an eternal future with God.
When an individual is dominated by spiritual death, there will be constant struggle. Sickness and disease will be inevitable. Strife will be part of the foundation of life. A death dominated person may have good times and good things, but they will never be fully satisfied. They may have money but they will not be truly prosperous. They may have relationships that last, but most often they will be unhappy in their relationships and they will end in divorce or some other form of separation. At the end of physical life, they will enter an eternity of torment and isolation.
We do not need to look any further than the history of humanity to know that spiritual death is the dominant force in the world. Cruelty and destruction have always been just under the surface. When they manifest fully it is hard to fathom how such evil can exist. From the cruelty of ancient empires to the twentieth century tragedies of the holocaust and soviet oppression to the genocides occurring today we see the hand of death and its author.
In today’s scripture, we see the cause of such misery and the hope of life. Jesus tells us that the thief comes for one threefold purpose. He hates God and God’s creation. Jesus says he only comes to kill to steal and destroy. The thief is the devil and the world system he has created. People try to make it a system that helps but invariably the help ends up hurting instead. The greatest efforts of man to create a society where life dominates have ended in death, inequity and oppression. There is a hope for man.
Jesus says that he came to bring life and life more abundant. This is the life that we have been discussing. He says that he is the door to the sheep or sheepfold. The sheepfold is a place of refuge where the flock can be protected and provided for. In the sheepfold, the thief cannot get to them. Every system that came before him was inadequate to protect the sheep from the death that wanted to consume them. Jesus is the good shepherd and he laid down his life to provide us entrance into the sheepfold of life.
It has always been the will of the Heavenly Father that his children walk in life. We see that in the Garden. The fall brought death and corruption to man. It is the will of God that all people live free of this death and corruption. To that end, he sent Jesus into the earth to die an unjust death so that anyone who wanted to could have life once again. The sheepfold Jesus is speaking of is a place where man is reconnected with God. It is a place where the death that dominates society is taken out of the heart of the individual and life is put back into him.
When we receive Jesus as the Lord and savior of our lives, we enter his sheepfold. The life that flows from him becomes the environment in which we live. It is much like the protective clothing worn in a hazardous environment. If a person is around a harmful chemical or disease, they may be able to live exposed to it for a while but the exposure is dangerous and may be fatal. They can stay in that environment and it will not affect them as long as they have the suit on.
Salvation is a protective garment that enables us to live in the midst of death and yet enjoy the benefits of life. The only way to get that suit is through Jesus. He paid his life to give us life. Any other way will eventually lead to death.
We must remember that we still live in the hazardous environment. We cannot take off our protective “garments of salvation.” In Ephesians 6, Paul calls them the “full armor of God.” When we choose not to obey the voice of God, walk in his ways or keep his commandments, we are taking off our protection of salvation. If we allow ourselves to be exposed to death, we will experience all the things death brings. When we choose to walk in God’s ways, we will walk in his life.
Yesterday I talked a great deal about the conflict between life and death in the earth. That conflict still goes on today. Before Jesus, the point of conflict was Satan trying to keep the Messiah from coming while God was preparing the way for him to enter the world. After the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus the conflict has been between the thief and his allies and the Good Shepherd and his allies.
The thief has one purpose. To kill God’s children, steal them from the sheepfold and completely destroy them if possible. His allies are those who never enter the sheepfold of God’s life. Most of them do not know they are the allies of the thief but they are.
The Good Shepherd’s purpose is to give life to all who enter the sheepfold. He does not want to give them just any kind of life. He wants to give them abundant life. Abundant life is a life that is greater in quantity and superior in quality to anything that the world has to offer. This life will provide all of the benefits we have spoken of today. This life will never end.
We must stay in this hazardous environment called the world. We have people who are still here that need rescue. There will come a day when we will leave this world behind. We are well equipped to go because if we have eternal life so heaven is our natural home. We will need no protective garment there, but the garments of salvation will become comfortable robes of righteousness and garments of praise that we will wear for eternity.