“Then Jesus said to them again, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep…. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.’” John 10:7–9

Gateways are focal points. Pictures of the Golden Gate Gridge or of the St. Louis Gateway Arch are familiar sights in calendars and tourist websites. How many 49ers arrived in California on the waterway that is today overshadowed by the bridge? How many pioneers passed through St. Louis on their way to open up the West? Gateways provide access.

Doorways also serve the same function. While a gate opens to provide access to opportunity, a door opens to provide access to people. When the door is closed and bolted, there is no communion with those inside and there is no access to build a relationship upon.

There is a reason so many homes have seasonal decorations on their doors. The doorway is a place of celebration, greeting, invitation, privilege, and communication.

The nature of gates and doorways remains unchanged since time immemorial. The book of Genesis has one of the first references to a sort of gateway. After the fall of Adam, God drove him out of the Garden of Eden to till the ground; God “placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life” (Genesis 3:24). Better than a closed gate, the angels blocked entrance to the tree of life—access was forbidden.

Later in the book of Genesis we see another door. This one was made by Noah, but it was closed by God. Genesis 7 begins with these words: “Then the LORD said to Noah, ‘Come into the ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation’” (Genesis 7:1). Noah had obeyed God in building the ark; now God invited him into the ark. The doorway was both an access into the ark and a means of protection for Noah, his family, and the animals. Genesis 7:16 says, “So those that entered, male and female of all flesh, went in as God had commanded him; and the LORD shut him in.”

Another doorway is talked about in Exodus at the institution of the Passover in the story of the tenth plague upon Egypt. God commanded His people to choose out a sacrificial lamb. He was to be perfect and to be kept from the tenth to the fourteenth day of the Hebrew first month of the year. He was to be killed and prepared for the family to eat. “And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses…” (Exodus 12:7). In verse 13, God explains His instruction: “Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.” The blood became a sign of assurance for the family. The family safely within the door was a token of their obedience to God. Sprinkling of blood was always a symbol of expiation, and was used for purification in the law. In the exodus from Egypt the blood at the door gave deliverance. All was safe within, all was terror without!

One more notable door in the Old Testament is the door of a good household in which to be a servant. Exodus 21:2 says, “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing.” Deuteronomy 15:16f further says, “And if it happens that he says to you, ‘I will not go away from you,’ because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you, then you shall take an awl and thrust it through his ear to the door, and he shall be your servant forever.” This appears to be the backdrop for David’s words (which foreshadow the Messiah) in Psalm 40:6ff, “Sacrifice and offering You did not desire; my ears You have opened. Burnt offering and sin offering You did not require. Then I said ‘Behold, I come; in the scroll of the book it is written of me. I delight to do Your will, O my God, and Your law is within my heart’” (Hebrews 10:5ff). This door is the door of release from debt, a door of love, identity, and glad-hearted service.

In the Old Testament we have seen gates and doorways used to forbid access, divide the faithful from the unfaithful, protect those who are within, and stand as a sign to God and to man of obedience and of love. In the New Testament we find these meanings spiritually enhanced.

Matthew 7:13ff, Jesus exhorts, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction…narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it.”

In John 10 we learn that Jesus is the Good Shepherd (the root word means to protect) in verses 1–6. Then He further says He is the “Door of the sheep…If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved….” He is the only way of access to God, heaven, and anything good (John 14:6) for those who have no right of access (Ephesians 2:14ff). He protects you from God’s wrath, He is your access into the beloved (Romans 5:2, Ephesians 3:12) and He is your avenue of loving service and fellowship (Revelation 3:8, 20–22). Trust and obey.