Live Life Beyond the Comma
Text: John 10:10
Proposition: Jesus has come not only to clean what is on the outside of our lives but especially what is on the inside.
Introduction: This morning we are going to look at a Solecism, something perceived as a grammatical mistake or absurdity. It could even be something that was considered inappropriate to say. What makes this even more interesting is that the person who spoke this solecism was Jesus Christ. How could Jesus ever say something that was a grammatical mistake or something that was absurd? Perhaps as we look for the answer to that we’ll see that Jesus uses this in a very deliberate way to catch their attention and to portray a much deeper meaning that lay underneath it. Turn with me to John 10:1-18.
I. The Solecism Exposed.
Jesus takes a very well known image of sheep and combines with it the picture of them being herded into an enclosure. In the days of Jesus when the shepherds needed to come to a town they would bring their sheep near to the town and entrust the sheep into the care of an under-shepherd of doorkeeper. Several flocks would all be brought into the same enclosure and would all mix together. The next morning the shepherd would come to the enclosure and the doorkeeper would recognize him and open the door for him. That’s when the shepherd would give a distinctive call that his sheep would know and out they come, leaving the other flocks behind them still in the enclosure. They follow the shepherd because they know his voice, anybody else they won’t respond to. If anybody else tries to get to the sheep other than through the door keeper then they are thieves and robbers and are to be resisted. The sheep belong to the shepherd. That’s the simple picture that Jesus paints in the first verses of John 10. Jesus tells this parable because of what has just happened in Chapter 9, He had healed a man born blind on a Sabbath and the Pharisees were incensed at this because they considered it working on the Sabbath, though likely the real reaction was coming from their envy of Him. Jesus was telling the people through this parable to beware of Pharisees who were like thieves and robbers as they tried to control the people for their own gain. Jesus, the One who came to save them, was the Shepherd. That’s what Jesus intended the disciples to pick up from this parable, but they don’t get it yet, they fail to see the danger of the legalistic Pharisees and they haven’t seen the truth of Who Jesus is as the Son of God nor what He is about to do. So in verse 7 Jesus says, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.” That’s what surprises us because we had kind of expected Him to say, ‘Most assuredly I say to you, I am the shepherd.’ That’s part of what makes up our solecism, that Jesus says He is the door of the sheep and then moments later He tells them that He is also the Good Shepherd. That apparent absurdity is what Jesus uses to draw them closer.
II. I Am the Door of the Sheep.
When Jesus says He is the door of the sheep the image He refers to is a field setting, far from any towns, where the shepherd corrals his sheep into an enclosure like a cave for the evening and then lays down across the mouth of the cave and becomes the door that guards the sheep. So He then says, “I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” That small word ‘by’ is the Greek word ‘dia’ and it has the main inference of something passing through in order to get to the other side. So in essence He says, ‘anyone who passes through Me will be saved’. The security of the shepherd is what Jesus seeks to translate into a metaphor for eternal life. Nothing could be more secure than that which death cannot touch. The way to that security, that eternal life, well that was through the Shepherd. To go through Jesus is to believe in His intentions to protect and nurture, to believe that where I am outside of Him is a place where death can get to me, where sin has its full effect upon me. Jesus says if you go through Me the cost of sin stops at the door, I Am the Door!
Look what He says next. If we will go through Him we will go in and out and find pasture. In the simplest of terms it means there will be times we come close to the Shepherd for protection, nurture, healing and comfort and then there will be times that He sends us out into the field to do what only sheep can do, they create other sheep. The pasture is the place of life, the place of food, water, playing and growing. Through the Door of the sheep comes security, eternal security, through the Door comes life. Let’s look at the second part of this solecism, that Jesus is not just the Door of the sheep but that He is also their Good Shepherd.
II. I Am The Good Shepherd.
In these next verses Jesus compares the Good Shepherd with the hirelings, again who He has in mind are the Pharisees, those whose motive for service is purely self gain. Here are some of the conclusions He draws about Who the Good Shepherd is: 1. He’s not afraid of the wolves, He’ll give His life for the sheep.
2. He owns the sheep, they belong to Him, their master is their owner.
3. He knows His sheep and they know Him, He has come close to them.
4. He cares about the sheep, therefore He will never leave them.
5. He has other sheep besides the ones in this corral, they are all one flock.
6. He lays down His life for the sheep knowing it is the Fathers will to do so.
7. The Good Shepherd cannot be killed, He can only be sacrificed.
Isn’t it strange that the very image of Jesus being the Good Shepherd ends with Him looking like a sacrificed lamb? The Good Shepherd came near to us, so near that He looked just like us, ‘a man or sorrows aquainted with grief’. He came so near to us that in His mortal body He took the sentence of our sin, the sentence of death upon Himself, He laid down His life for His sheep, this Good Shepherd. The solecism of Jesus being the Door and at the same time being the Good Shepherd has the image of laying down, like the Door did at the cross, and then as the Good Shepherd picking up the sheep as He picked up His own life again in the resurrection.
Let me leave you with one more solecism, it’s found in John 10:10.
IV. Live Life Beyond the Comma.
Jesus contrasts Himself against anything or anyone who would come towards you to steal, to kill and to destroy. This isn’t just Satan, it doesn’t just refer to Pharisees, it refers to anything or anyone that seeks to steal, kill or destroy. Perhaps if you think for a moment you might remember what the things or ideas or beliefs, or actions are that have stolen from you, what is it that kills in you, kills dreams, kills truth, kills hope? The end goal of all sin is like an arsenic laced candy, sweet to the taste but deadly when consumed.
So what is the opposite of, ‘to steal, to kill, to destroy’? Whatever that is, it’s meant to describe the way that Jesus works within us. The opposite of to steal would be to give, to give that which doesn’t belong to us, it belongs to Him. That’s grace isn’t it? What’s the opposite of to kill, it’s to create, Jesus is the most creative person you will ever meet. He creates opportunities, He creates hope, He creates new life. And what’s the opposite of to destroy, it can only be to preserve. Eternally, Jesus sustains us. What was it that Romans 11:36 said, “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things to whom be the glory forever.”
So Jesus says in John 10:10, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it abundantly.” Do you see it? Not just that we have life but that we have life abundantly. There is that comma have way through the verse, have life, yes, but more so that you would have life abundantly. That can only happen when I go through the Door of the sheep, when the Good Shepherd picks me up in His arms of resurrected life. Abundant life in Christ is Him giving me grace upon grace, Him creating in me a new heart, Him preserving and sustaining me. So I leave you with this solecism, ‘Live Life Beyond the Comma’. Live a life that glorifies God in all that you do and are and take great pleasure in doing so. It’s why He came.