The Door To The Sheepfold & Robbers, Jesus’ Parables

In John 10, Jesus used an illustration (a parable) about sheep and the sheepfold. It reads:

Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.’ Jesus used this illustration, but they did not understand the things which He spoke to them. Then Jesus said to them, again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. 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. (John 10:1-10)


A typical sheepfold in Palestine was a walled but unroofed enclosure where multiple shepherds might bed their flocks for the night. One of the shepherds would stand guard at the entrance of the sheepfold overnight. In the morning, when a shepherd came, he would be permitted entrance and his sheep would follow him out, for they knew his voice.

A thief could not enter at the door, so they would try to enter some other way to steal the sheep. The sheep would not willingly follow them, but rather they would need to snatch and steal the sheep.


John tells us in verse 6 that the Lord’s audience (which included Jewish leaders) did not understand His illustration. As He explained the story to them, Jesus assumed a couple of roles from the analogy. In our text this week, He is the door, and in our text next week, He is the Shepherd.

Twice (verse 7, 9), Jesus identified Himself as the door. There are not multiple ways into the sheepfold. There is only one legitimate way in, and that is through the door. In John 14:6, Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”


If Jesus is the door, then what is the sheepfold? The sheepfold is descriptive of God’s people. The Scriptures refer to God’s people as sheep time and again (Matthew 15:24; 25:32-34; Mark 6:34; Luke 15:2-7; John 10:26-28; 21:16-17; Hebrews 13:20; etc.). Jesus spoke about having other sheep which were not of that fold, but which would be brought near so there would be one flock (John 10:16; Ephesians 2:11-16). This is the Jew and Gentile brought together into the same body, that is, in the church.


The “thieves and robbers” (v 8) who came before Him are religious leaders. Understand, not all of Israel’s leaders were thieves and robbers; there were some very good leaders (Moses, Joshua, Gideon, etc.). Each of these served as faithful shepherds. However, those whom Jesus spoke of were not true shepherds, but thieves. These were the Pharisees, the Sadducees, the scribes, the chief priests, and the elders of Jesus’ day. They were selfish and did not have the best interest of the people in mind. They were not there to serve God’s people but to serve themselves.

In Matthew 23, Jesus spoke blatantly identified the scribes and Pharisees as hypocrites. Why? Because they bound burdens on the people (verse 4), elevated themselves (verses 5-6), and loved to be exalted by the people (verses 7-8). These Jewish leaders would shut up the kingdom from the Jews (verse 13) and at the same time corrupt the Gentile converts (verse 15). They literally were thieves, devouring widows’ houses (verse 14). They were deceitful and wicked workers of the wicked one.

The scribes and Pharisees, who heard but did not understand Jesus’ illustration (John 10:6), came “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy” (John 10:10). By way of contrast, Jesus, who is the door, the entrance, the way, and the truth, has come to give abundant life (John 10:10).

May we be His sheep of His sheepfold, and those who hear His voice and follow Him. Only in Him can we find salvation. Only in Him will we gain access to eternal life in heaven. Come and enter by the door!

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