Doors function as barriers between whatever is inside a space and whatever is outside the space. Modern doors can range from very simple and providing only a temporary, symbolic barrier, to very complex and providing a permanent, physical obstruction. Also, a window and a door differ in at least one very important way: a door is a legitimate entryway for people to go through, but a window is not.
When Jesus says he is the door of the sheep, he is illustrating at least two important spiritual roles. First, Jesus is the doorkeeper to eternal life with the Father. In John 9, a blind man was healed. But the religious leaders (who should have rejoiced at the man’s healing and glorified God) kicked the healed man out of the synagogue because they didn’t like Jesus. (A synagogue is where the Jewish people in Jesus’ time gathered weekly to worship God.) But religious leaders don’t determine who gets into heaven. As Jesus explains in more clearly in John 14:6, “‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.’” To get to heaven, we must “go through” the legitimate door—Jesus. And Jesus is the only way, there is no other.
A second important spiritual role of Jesus is how, as our shepherd, he protects us. A good shepherd protects his sheep from dangers, especially predators like wolves and bad people like thieves and robbers. One of the ways a shepherd does this is by taking the sheep into a sheep pen at night. But the sheep pens were very basic, with stones stacked for walls and just an opening for the door. So, often the shepherd would sit or lie down in the opening to keep dangers from coming in the sheep pen. Similarly, we may see or hear spiritual dangers from other people, as well as Satan and his spiritual forces, lurking around us. But when we believe in Jesus, he protects us spiritually from those dangers.
Jesus is a good shepherd, but he’s not a universal shepherd. The invitation to be a member of Jesus’ flock is universal, but membership is voluntary. If you want to be a sheep in Jesus’ flock, there’s a condition—you have to believe in Jesus—that he is God the Son and he died for your sins. And when you do trust in Jesus, he becomes your “heavenly door,” protecting you spiritually from Satan, sin, and spiritual death and freely welcoming you into eternal life in heaven with the Father.
To download the full kids lesson resource guide for free, including suggestions for videos and crafts, click here: Seven I AMs 3 The Door of the Sheep