Truly, truly, I say to you, He that enters not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbs up some other way…
I. THE INDIVIDUAL CARE AND GUIDANCE OF OUR LORD for every soul that trusts Him. In modern stock raising in Western lands there is nothing of that personal knowledge and attachment which bound together an Oriental shepherd and his flock.
1. It is an infirmity of Christian people to suppose that they are lost in the crowd, that God deals with them in the gross as a general might deal with his army, with rare notice of individuals least of all of privates. Yet in nothing do we wrong Him more. "The hairs of our head are all numbered."
2. Christ showed nothing clearer than His attention to every personal want within His reach. We have reason as Paul had to appropriate His atoning work as though it were our monopoly (Galatians 2:20; Hebrews 2:9). Indeed He promises a friendship so intimate that it becomes a system of cipher messages between them and their Lord (Revelation 2:17).
3. We talk about how to convert "the masses," when we had better think of single souls.
II. THE SINGULAR COMMUNITY OF SYMPATHY BETWEEN CHRIST AND CHRISTIANS (ver. 4, 14, R.V.). It is compared for closeness and depth to that which subsists between the Father and the Son.
1. In Christ's case we might charge His knowledge on His omniscience, but we cannot so account for ours. Take Christ upon His more human side and you have the explanation. Who has not felt the mystic thrill of sympathy and repulsion when we discover the congenial or uncongenial to ourselves in another character. So Christ felt the unlikeness to Himself of hatred, falseness; but He was drawn with unerring affinity towards the faintest uprisings of human penitence and trust.
2. "My sheep know Me"; not merely something about me. Not by the mere investigation of the shepherd's clothing or crook, to see if both are genuine, as men puzzle themselves over churches, creeds, ordinances. But as one friend recognizes another by a glance if he can be seen; by his voice if out of sight. The test of truth is the character within us. We know God by resembling Him. These Jews could not be satisfied with our Lord's credentials, but certain Samaritans felt the Divine life (chap. John 4:42).
III. GOD'S EXCLUSIVE WAY OF MERCY. Thebes had a hundred gates, but salvation only one (ver. 9). An engine off the track is not more a failure than a man off the track of God's conditions. All entrance to spiritual hope and safety is through Christ. He will endure no rival. Mingle anything with Him as our hope and the mixture fails.
IV. THE ADVANTAGES TO WHICH CHRIST OPENS THE DOOR (ver. 9).
1. Safety. It reminds us of some fugitive running for his life to the city of refuge.
2. Liberty. A Christian is no jailbird, so closely guarded that he finds himself a prisoner. No slave on a plantation, but a child in the family. He knows the truth, and that makes him free to go where and do what he pleases if he only pleases right.
V. THE GRAND PURPOSE OF CHRIST'S ADVENT (ver. 10). Nothing is so precious as life. It was forfeited by sin; but Christ restored it at the expense of His own (ver. 11). And it is to be had now. The young are eager to "see" and "enjoy life." And they are right if they will not look for it in the wrong way. In Christ is the way to gain it, not in the low average of worldly attainment, but "more abundantly" in all that makes life worth living.
VI. THE METHOD OF CHRIST'S RULE. "Leadeth" — "goeth before." An Eastern shepherd does not drive his flock; and Christ goes before, never behind, saying not "Go," but "Come."
(C. S. Pomeroy, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.