By Rev. Peter Aiken
Special to The Guardian
However you view Jesus, it must take into account what he claimed about himself. When we turn to the Gospels, we find that Jesus made all sorts of claims. One of these claims is found in John 10:9 where Jesus says, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”
A door provides a way of access. In a similar way, Jesus claims to provide the way of access and acceptance before God. Jesus’ claim is made against the backdrop of the Old Testament that teaches that our sins have made a separation between us and God (Isa. 59.2). That separation prevents us from enjoying God and exposes us to His righteous judgment.
While our sins have resulted in a separation from God’s favour, the Scriptures also teach that the Lord was determined to provide a way for sinners to be reconciled with Him. One of the ways we see this is through the temple and the animal sacrifices in the Old Testament. Once a year, on the Day of Atonement, the high priest would be permitted to pass behind the curtain in the temple that served to symbolize the separation between God and humanity and he would offer a sacrifice for sin. This annual practice communicated the problem of sin, but also the way in which sinners could be restored to God. A particular sacrifice would need to be offered up that would remove the offense of their sins. When Jesus claims to be the door, he was claiming to be God’s provision for reconciling us with God.
But why should we believe Jesus’ claim? There is an Old Testament passage that makes reference to a gate through which people can come before God and be accepted. In Psalm 118:19-20, the psalmist writes, “Open to me the gate (door) of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord. This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.”
But what is the gate of the Lord that he is referring to that brings salvation (Ps. 118:21)? The psalmist goes on to explain, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes (Ps. 118.22).” The gate can also be identified by the One who will be rejected by men but ultimately approved and vindicated by the Lord. The psalmist was referring to Jesus Christ who was rejected by men but raised from the dead on the third day. In the Gospel of Matthew, we read that when Jesus gave up the Spirit on the cross, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom (Matt. 27:51). We can understand the significance of this event. The way of acceptance with God has opened up through Jesus Christ who has offered his life as a sacrifice for sin for those who believe in Him (Heb. 9:26).
Jesus’ claim in this passage also says something about those who believe in Him. Jesus promises that those who believe in Him will know the protection from sin. Jesus says, “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved (10:9).” Jesus speaks with certainty of their salvation. But then Jesus also adds a second promise. He says, “He will go in and out and find pasture.” Those who come to Jesus will be satisfied. We must wrestle with Jesus’ claims, but when we do, we can enjoy the comfort of His grace and salvation.
Pastor Peter Aiken is with Birchwood Church (www.birchwoodchurch.org). A guest sermon runs regularly in Saturday’s Guardian and is provided through Christian Communications.