To him the porter opens; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out.…
The simile is at first sight a strange one. A door is seldom a thing of beauty or impressiveness — a mere instrument of convenience. Yet upon further thought there will come to mind so many uses that admiration will take the place of surprise. A door is an emblem —
1. Of separation. On one side are the passions, the driving cares of the world; on the other love and quietness.
2. Of protection. The things that are happening in the community roll up to the door and, like a wave on the beach, they break and pass away. And we can bring up our children, thanks to the Door, in the midst of temptations safely.
3. Of hospitality. To keep an open door is equivalent to the declaration that one employs it as one instrument of pleasure to others. At the door too we greet the returning children and the much prized guests. When Christ, therefore, called Himself a door no more significant symbol could well have been selected. He is the Door to the home. Christ is the door —
I. FOR THE TROUBLED. There is no sound in the household sweeter than the opening and closing door when love reigns. All day long the father strives at business. The whole day has been full of care and wrangling. The head is hot and the limbs weary. But the day is over at last and he prepares for home. He draws near. The door opens. The children hear it and run. Now every wrinkle is gone and he looks round with a sense of grateful rest and thanks God that the sound of that shutting door was the last echo of the thunder of care and trouble. "I am the Door," says Christ; opening you shall be within the circle of love. What the home is to the troubled that is Christ to those who know how to make use of Him. Speak ye that have proved it. Mothers who have been sustained in the midst of troubles that rasped the soul to the very quick: fathers who have gone through the burden and heat of the world. There are bereaved hearts who need the refuge you have found. Publish the invitation you have accepted. "Come unto Me all ye," etc.
II. FOR THE PETITIONER. If the journey of the hearts of petitioners to the doors of men of wealth, influence, wisdom, skill, could be written, how full of pathos it would be! Who can imagine the solicitude of one delicately reared but reduced to poverty as she seeks aid that she may rescue from suffering and death her offspring. Torn between delicacy and affection how hesitating she goes to the door of the rich man for help! But it is opened, and scarcely has she seated herself before her benefactor comes and makes her sorrow his own. But have there not been those who have gone to Christ for themselves or their children with as little faith, with anguish unspeakable? And, or ever they knew it, the cloud was lifted; the door was opened; the Christ was manifest; and His bounty flooded their souls.
III. FOR THE DOUBTER. There is no experience more dreary for a noble nature than doubt. It may do for dry natures; but I would rather have superstition. Admitting that that is dead at the root, yet, like a tree covered with mistletoe, there is some life and freshness. But the doubter is dead from top to root. Or he may be compared to one lost in a snowstorm in an open prairie. The road he travels on is soon obliterated. There is now nothing by which he can direct his course. He begins to be uncertain and is alarmed. With this comes exertion, which makes matters worse. He wanders round and round, grows chilly and numb, drowsiness steals over him; and, just as he is tempted to take the fatal rest, he discerns a light, follows it, stumbles upon the door of the cottage, which bursts open, and there he sinks down as one dead. But behind that door he is safe. And so there are those who have wandered from church to church, from theory to theory, from belief to unbelief. Round and round they wander; as they are about to give up there comes the opening of a door through which streams the light of Christ. Men want to be argued out of doubt; but what men need is not more reasoning, persuading, showing, but more Christ. Only love can cure.
IV. FOR THOSE WHO IN RELIGION FIND UNEXPECTED HEART RICHES. There are many who live in a plain way, unconscious that there are great treasures near, and are brought unexpectedly into a full fruition of them. How many go to Christ as to a captain on a battlefield, a master in a workshop, expecting suffering and toil, and find Him instead to be the door to a beautiful home where they find comfort and wealth in abundance.
V. FOR THOSE IN DANGER. David represents God as a strong tower into which he may run and be safe from the victorious and pursuing enemy or the pitiless storm. Christ is the door of refuge to souls in all kinds of peril.
VI. FOR WANDERERS. There is a vagrant child who has proved the folly of his course. He hesitates about going back; but he goes and finds the door open, however long he may have been away. There is the child who has honourably wandered and is on his return. How the vision of the door haunts him! And that daughter who has wandered to the brink of hell, the door held open by a mother's love invites her return. And what the open door of home is to the penitent Jesus is to the worst. VII. OF DEATH; but He is a gate of pearl.
(H. W. Beecher.)
Parallel VersesKJV: To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out.