I Am the Door | John 10:1-10
Brian Hedges | November 18, 2018
Turn in your Bibles this morning to John, the 10th chapter. We’re going to be looking at verses 1 through 10. As we’ve been working through the gospel of John, we’ve taken special note of the “I Am” statements of Jesus that show up a number of times in this gospel, and in John chapter 10 we have two of these statements. We’re going to look at one this week and one next Sunday morning together.
John chapter 10, I think, is one of those great chapters of the Bible. All the Bible is great, but some parts of the Bible, I think, speak especially to us, and I think of John 10 as something like Romans 8. It’s one of those wonderful passages of Scripture that is so full of gospel truth for us; we’re going to spend a little time in it these next couple of weeks, and we’re going to start this morning with John 10:1-10, really focusing on verses 7-10. Let me begin by reading this passage to us, John 10, beginning in verse 1. You can follow along in your copy of God’s word or on the screen. Jesus is speaking.
“‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.’ This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to 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 comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.’”
This is God’s word.
So, in verses 1 through 5 Jesus gives us a word picture, a figure of speech, as its called in verse 6, that really is unpacked for the rest of the chapter. He’s using the imagery of a shepherd and his sheep, a very common image, a common scene, especially in the ancient near east in a very rural and agrarian society. Jesus takes various elements of this through the rest of the chapter and expands on it. So, in verses 7 through 10 he describes himself as the door, “I am the door,” or your version may say “the gate,” “I am the gate of the sheep.” So the entry-point is through Jesus, the gate.
And then in verse 11 and following he describes himself as the shepherd of the sheep. So we’re going to look at this first “I Am” statement today, “I am the door,” or, “I am the gate,” and then next Sunday we’ll look at, “I am the good shepherd.”
This morning I want us to see three things about Jesus as the door of the sheep or the gate of the sheep.
I. Jesus Is the Only Way to God
The first one is this, that Jesus is the only way to God. I think this is one of the clear things that this passage is teaching us. Jesus says, “I am the gate,” or, “I am the door,” so he’s an entry-point, and what is he an entry-point to? Well, he’s an entry-point to the fold or the flock. He’s an entry point into relationship with the whole family of God. So you might think of the church universal, the invisible body of Christ, which we’re all a part of if we believe in Jesus. But we might think also of relationship to God the Father, and Jesus says that he is that door, that he is that gate.
Now, I think one of the first things this just reminds us of is the fact that the only way to have a relationship with God is through Jesus Christ. Now, some of us who are in the church kind of take that for granted, but outside of the church that’s a pretty controversial claim. I want us to think about it in a couple of different ways. First of all, just to apply it to ourselves, we need to remember that it is through faith in Christ and Christ alone that we actually have relationship with God. Sometimes religious folks can begin to assume a relationship with God without a conscious and deliberate faith in Christ.
So just note here that the gate is not a lot of things. The gate is not baptism, the gate is not observing the sacraments, the gate is not just making a profession of faith in some kind of a public way, the gate is not acceptance by the church. The gate is certainly not your good works or your good deeds. The gate is not your family: you’re not born into Christianity by being born into a Christian home. The gate is Christ himself. Jesus is the way to God. Jesus is the way to the Father.
Now, that is a hugely controversial statement to make in a society, such as ours is, which is marked by religious pluralism. It is one of the default beliefs of our culture that there are many paths to God. There are lots of different ways to come to God, and Jesus is one of the many good options.
What should we say to that? I think the first thing to say is that, if you take Scripture seriously, that’s not an option for a Bible-believing Christian. The Scriptures, I think, are crystal clear that Jesus is the only way to God the Father. Let me give you just a couple of other verses to back this up.
In John 14:6 you have yet another one of these “I Am” statements, where Jesus says, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” It could not be more clear than it is there.
In Acts 4:12 we have a word from one of the apostles, where it says, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
In 1 John 5:11-12 we read these words: “And this is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
And then just one more from the gospel of John itself; in John 3:36 we have perhaps one of the strongest statements about the importance of faith in Christ and the consequence of not believing in Christ. The text says, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
So I hope you can see - I mean, I’ve just given you six verses of Scripture, five passages - I hope you can see just from that litany of passages that the Bible’s really clear: there’s only one way to God the Father. There’s only one way to salvation, there’s only way to eternal life, there’s only one way to a real, meaningful, lasting relationship with God, and that way is Jesus Christ. He is the door. He is the gate. He is the only way to the Father.
But this is something that you’re likely to run into objections with when you’re discussing Christianity with your unbelieving friends or neighbors, when you’re sharing Christ with others. It may be an objection that you have this morning; if you’re fairly new to the Christian faith or if you’re just considering the claims of Christ but haven’t really become a Christian, it may be that this makes Christianity seem implausible to you. How can there only be one way to God?
A number of years ago I was in Chicago. Holly and I were in Chicago for kind of an overnighter, we were spending some time away together. One night we went into a Borders bookstore in downtown Chicago. I was looking for a particular book, I don’t remember what it was, but I do remember a conversation that happened. I was in the religion and spirituality section, and there was an old man that was kind of crouched down in front of me. He was looking at books, and the book I wanted was right in front of him. So I probably said, “Excuse me,” reached over to get the book, and he immediately wanted to talk.
He showed me the book he was reading. It was called The Atheist’s Bible. I said, “Oh, so that’s what you’re reading, huh?” He was obviously interested in conversation, he seemed interesting in talking about Christianity, and we began to visit. It ended up being a 20 or 30-minute conversation.
I found out that he was raised Anglican, but he had rejected Christianity as a young man, but he was still spiritual. He had had spiritual experiences. He had had an out-of-body experience, a near-death experience. He was very sympathetic to the view of people like Sylvia Brown, things like that. But he had problems with Christianity, and this was one of his problems, that Christianity seemed to him so exclusive and so absolute. This is the way he described it.
He said, “Why are Christians so strong? Why are they so strong?” I think what he meant was, “Why are they so strong in their opinions?”
What would you say to someone who has those kind of objections to Christianity? Let me tell you how the conversation went with this fellow; his name was Robby. He said, “Why are Christians so strong?” and I said, “You feel really strongly about this, don’t you?” He said, “Yes! I do.”
I said, “Well, it’s okay for you to feel strongly about something, but why are you judging Christians when they feel strongly about their beliefs?” So we were talking, then, about the exclusive claims of Christianity.
This is essentially what I said to him. I said, “You know, if you believed in something that brought forgiveness of sins and it brought life and it brought happiness and it brought satisfaction and it opened your heart so that you loved people, even people who are different from you, you loved them more because of what you understood that this person Jesus had done for you, wouldn’t you want to share that with others?”
That’s really the answer, I think, to these objections about the exclusivity of Scripture. We have to first show people that anyone who believes anything, believes in their beliefs to the exclusion of others, right? So, even someone who believes in tolerance and says, “We should tolerate everything,” is essentially saying, “You’re wrong not to tolerate my belief,” which is a self-defeating position, because they’re not tolerating your lack of tolerance, right? Anyone who says, “There is no such thing as absolute truth”... If you just ask the question, “Are you sure?” if they say, “Yes,” they’ve defeated their own position; if they say, “No,” they’ve undermined their position.
I think we have to show people that. We have to show people that the strong beliefs they have in religious plurality is itself an exclusive claim. So we’re really all on the same ground, aren’t we? We’re all looking at our beliefs, and our beliefs exclude certain other beliefs.
So we have to understand that, and then we have to ask the question, which set of beliefs actually leads us to live lives of love for others? As Tim Keller has often said, “At the center of Christianity is the belief that Jesus died on the cross for his enemies,” and that truth claim, that belief, will lead you to live life in a certain kind of way, so you can make this claim that Jesus is the only way to God in a winsome way because of who Jesus himself is.
That’s the first thing I think we have to understand from this text. The text makes the claim, it makes it clearly, and it’s a claim that we have to reckon with personally. Have we come to God the Father through Jesus Christ the Son, have we entered through the door rather than climbing over the fence (as Jesus describes in this passage), coming in some other way? Have we actually come through him? We have to wrestle with that, and then we have to wrestle with how to share this with other people.
II. The Privileges We Receive When We Enter through Him
Here’s the second thing I want us to see from the text: that there are certain privileges we receive when we enter through Christ. Everyone who comes through Christ as the door or the gate receives certain things, and there are four things that are listed in the passage, and I just want to go through them, I’ll just acknowledge right here that I’ve been really helped by my homeboy, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. So I’m going to give you a couple of Spurgeon insights before we’re done. But let’s look at four things that the text says here about our privileges if we enter through the gate.
(1) The first one is this: he will be saved. Look at verse - well, let me just read verse 9. “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” So the first thing here is he will be saved.
Now, that word “saved” is an important word. We use the word a lot, but maybe we don’t always understand what we mean when we say the word. I think a lot of people, when they say, “I was saved when I was five years old,” essentially what they mean is, “I made a profession of faith when I was five years old. I converted to Christianity when I was five years old.”
But, really, the logical question to ask, any time somebody says, “I was saved,” is we should say, “Saved from what? What is it that you think you were saved from?” What do we mean when we say that we are saved? What does that word mean in Scripture?
I think if you look at this word in the rest of the gospel of John (and it’s used about half-a-dozen times) it becomes pretty clear that this word means to be saved from condemnation. It means to be saved from condemnation or from a negative judgment.
Let me just give you one of these passages, John 3:16-18. Many of you will know this verse. “For God so loved the world that he gave is only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish [mark that, perish], but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”
So, do you see it? There’s a contrast here between being condemned and being saved, perishing and having eternal life. And then verse 18 says, “Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” So there again you have the exclusive truth claim; it’s only through Christ that you escape condemnation.
But when we’re talking about someone being saved, this is what we mean: we mean that we are saved from perishing, we are saved from condemnation, we are saved from the wrath of God, the judgment of God on our sins, we’re saved from everlasting hell. That’s what we’re saved from. We’re saved from the condemnation of God.
Now, of course, “saved,” when you look at it in its broader biblical context, has three dimensions. We could talk about being saved in a past tense, in a present tense, and in a future tense. We are saved in the past tense in the sense that we are justified, that we have been freed from the guilt of sin, that our sins are forgiven, that we are right with God. We are being saved in the present in this sense, that we are progressively coming to understand the riches of salvation, we are growing into our experience of God’s grace, we are being delivered progressively from the power of sin operating in our lives, we’re overcoming sinful habits, sinful patterns, those kinds of things. And we will yet be saved, in a future sense, when Jesus Christ returns, when the wrath of God is finally and fully unleashed on the sins of unrepentant human beings; we will be saved from that, we won’t experience the wrath of God in the future. So in that sense the salvation we’re waiting for is still in the future.
So, we’re saved from condemnation. How is it that we’re saved? We’re saved through substitution. We’re saved through substitution. What that means is simply this: we’re saved through someone else taking our place. In fact, just to jump ahead a verse (something we’ll look at in more detail next week in John 10:11), we get the sense of substitution when Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”
This is how you get saved. You get saved by Christ taking your place. Essentially what that means is that when Jesus hung on the cross God treated Jesus as if he had lived my life with all of its sin so that he could then treat me as if I’d lived Jesus’s life, with all of its obedience and righteousness.
You know that old hymn by I think it’s Philip Bliss; the words go like this:
“Bearing shame and scoffing rude,
In my place condemned he stood,
Sealed my pardon with his blood,
Hallelujah! what a Savior!”
That’s substitution. “In my place condemned he stood.” He stood in my place! I was the sinner, I was the one in the dock, I was the one with all of these crimes and sins to my credit, I was the one deserving the condemnation; he stood in my place, and in doing so secured my pardon, secured my justification, my release.
So, salvation, removal of this judgment, this condemnation, escape from perishing in the wrath of God - all of that comes through Christ. Jesus says, “If anyone enters through me, he will be saved.”
(2) Alright, but there’s more. That’s not all of the Christian life. There’s more to it than that. Notice that Jesus also says, “He will go in and out.” He will go in and he will go out and find pasture. Let’s just take each one of those things.
He says he will go in. What does that mean? So, I think if we look at Scripture again broadly it becomes really clear that Jesus is not only our entry point into salvation; Jesus is our entry point into every good thing that God ever gives us. Every good gift of grace, every blessing of salvation; every good thing God ever gives us, he gives us through Christ. Right?
Ephesians chapter 1 talks about how we’ve received “every spiritual blessing in him.” We get it in Christ. In Romans 8:32 Paul says, “He who spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how will he not also with him freely give us all things?” Colossians talks about how in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Again, in the gospel of John, in chapter 1, we read how Jesus is full of grace and truth, but “of his fullness we have all received grace upon grace.” All the fullness we get, all the grace we get, all the good we get, we get it from Jesus.
So, going in means going in deeper to everything God has for us in Christ, and Jesus is the entry point. Everything you need in your Christian life you get through Christ. If you need more peace, you get it from Christ. If you need more holiness, you get it from Christ. If you need to grow and mature in your faith, you get it from Christ. You don’t move on from Christ, you go deeper into Christ, you go through Christ to the Father, and it’s only in him, through him, that we go deeper with God.
This was an insight that I owe entirely to Spurgeon. He preached a couple of sermons on this passage, and I read one of them, I don’t know, a month or so ago, and immediately was starring and circling and highlighting and making notes, because I knew “I am the door” was coming up in this series in the gospel of John, and I pulled it out again last night to look through that again. I want to give you just one wonderful quotation from Spurgeon. This is what he says:
“He that enters in by the door shall be saved, and he shall go in. If you know what this means, go in. Go in farther, go in more constantly. Do not stop where you are, but go in till you have a little more. If you love Christ, come nearer to him, and nearer, and nearer still. But if you want to get into anything that is divine, you must get it through Christ. Oh you who open your Bibles and want to understand a text! The way to get into the meaning of a text is through the door, Christ. Oh you who want to get more holiness! Come through the door. The way to holiness is not through Moses, but through Christ. Oh you who would have closer communion with your heavenly Father, the way to come in is not through your own efforts, but through Christ. You came to Christ at first to get salvation; you must come to Christ still to get sanctification. Never look for another door, for there is but one, and that one door will let you into life, love, peace, knowledge, and sanctification. It will let you into heaven. Christ is the master key of all the rooms in the palace of mercy, and if you get Christ, you shall go in. Nothing shall keep you out of the secret chambers; you shall go in in God’s name, through Christ the door.”
Amen? So, whatever you need this morning, go through Christ. Go in through him. Christ is your entry point into all that the Father has to give you. All the blessings that we could ever desire or need we get through Christ.
(3) “If anyone enters through me,” Jesus says, “he will be saved and he will go in and he will go out.” He will go out.
Now, perhaps it’s pressing the metaphor just a little, but it does mean something. A sheep, obviously, goes in and out of a sheepfold through a gate, and Jesus says, “I am that gate, and anyone who goes in and out comes through me.” It certainly doesn’t mean going out of salvation. To go out doesn’t mean to go out of the church in the sense of leaving the body of Christ. What does it mean to go out?
Again, I think Spurgeon is helpful on this, and I’ll just give you the headings, without a quotation; but Spurgeon essentially said you go out into the world, you go out into your daily life, you go out into everything you do in life through Christ. When you’re leaving for work in the morning, you’re going out to your daily business; go through Christ. In other words, meet with him first, seek him first, know him first. Go with Christ on your mind and in your heart. When you go out into the trials of life, you’re going through Christ. Christ is your entry point. When you go to fight your sin, you’re going through Christ. And in all the work that you do for him, you go through Christ.
In other words, the idea here seems to be that Christ is not only our entry point into relationship with the Father, but that it is through Christ, it is through Christ that we engage everything. There’s an old hymn - and I didn’t write the lyrics down, but it went something like this, “Nothing between my soul and the Savior”? Do you remember that? "Nothing between, there’s nothing between."
In other words, Christ stands between me and everything else. Christ stands between me and the world, Christ stands between me and my sins, Christ stands between me and my suffering, Christ stands between me and every person that I meet; and I access them through Christ, or I should. I go in and out through Christ. We are to live lives that are so Christ-centered that in everything we do we’re thinking of it in relationship to Jesus Christ.
(4) “He will go in and he will go out,” and then, at the end of the verse, “he will find pasture.” This is probably an allusion to Psalm 23, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul.” What is that? It’s a promise of provision, it’s a promise of nourishment, it’s a promise of rest, it’s a promise of restoration and refreshment. It’s Christ, in other words, who gives us what our souls need to keep us strong, to help us grow, to help us become healthy. It is in Christ that we get life.
In fact, verse 10 draws out the contrast here, implicit in this chapter, between the thieves and the true shepherd. Look at what Jesus says. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” Jesus comes to nourish us and to fill us and to give us abundant life.”
Now what does that mean? Life, and have it abundantly? I don’t think it means that every worldly or fleshly desire that we ever have, that Christ is going to meet that desire. This isn’t a promise for health, wealth, and prosperity. Jesus is not saying, “If you come to me you get eternal life, and if you have enough faith, strong enough faith, then you can have 'your best life now.'” That’s not what he’s saying.
There are a couple of reasons we know that’s not what he’s saying. Here’s one reason: because he says almost exactly the opposite in other passages. For example, John 15:20, “Remember the word that I said to you. A servant is not greater than his master. If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.” John 16:33, “I have said these things to you that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation, but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.”
Jesus nowhere promises an exemption from suffering for the Christian. Nowhere. Jesus nowhere promises that you’ll never have financial problems, that you’ll never have health problems, that you’ll never face trials. It’s not the promise that Jesus makes. It’s so clear in other passages that we shouldn’t misread this passage and think that that’s what he’s promising.
If you do think that, you’re going to be woefully disappointed, because sooner or later you’re going to lose everything. I don’t know if you’ve reckoned with that or not. An interesting thing happens in your mind when you’re 40; I mean, people talk about mid-life crises for a reason, I think. I’m 44, and so I know I seem like a spring chicken to a lot of you with gray hairs, so you can tune me out for a minute, and all the 30s and under can listen.
Something does happen where you suddenly start to realize that half of your life is probably behind you, that you’re seeing a lot in the rearview, and that up ahead are all kinds of trials, health problems, aging parents, trials in all kinds of ways. You realize that’s coming, and if you think about it long enough you’re going to realize that by the end of your life you’re going to lose everything. You may lose it all at once by dying, or you may lose it slowly by losing your health and losing family and losing friends and so on. You’re going to lose everything! I mean, that’s just the reality. I’m not trying to be morbid, I’m just trying to say, grasp reality: life is fragile, life is brief, it’s going by really, really quickly, and Jesus doesn’t promise an exemption for that for the Christian.
So what is it that he means when he says you can have life and you can have it abundantly? This is what I think he means: I think he means that he will be so present with us through all of that hardship, all of that trial, that there can be real joy, real peace, real satisfaction, an abiding calmness of heart and spirit throughout it all.
I grew up singing hymns (a cappella, nonetheless), and probably 90 per cent of the hymns that I grew up singing nobody else has even heard of. In some ways that was an advantage to me, because I have all these hymns in my head now, and I just can’t get through texts or sermons without often thinking about these hymns. One of them that I grew up singing for years and years, it didn’t even hit me what the words were saying until I was probably in my 20s. It was a hymn by John Newton; we talked about him last week. The title of the hymn is “How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours.” You can imagine why that’s not on the CCLI top 100 list. “How Tedious and Tasteless the Hours”? That was the name of the hymn!
The whole thing was about how he lost all of his joy when he wasn’t with Jesus. So it’s, “How tedious and tasteless the hours / When Jesus no longer I see.” That was the whole hymn, but then how he had this incredible perspective; when he had Christ, there was joy and peace and satisfaction.
Here was one of the lines of that hymn. He says,
“Content with beholding his face
My all to his pleasure resign.
No changes of season or place
Will make any change in my mind.”
Changes in season or place. I mean, that’s what you experience as you age, lots of changes of seasons and in place, and Newton says, “No changes of season or place would make any change my mind.” And then listen to this: he says,
“While blest with a sense of his love,
A palace a toy would appear,
And prisons would palaces prove
If Jesus would dwell with me there.”
You get what he’s saying? I could live in a palace, and if I have Jesus, it’s just a toy. It’s a trifle. Those blessings aren’t what give me kicks. That stuff’s not what makes me happy. If I have Jesus, it’s a toy! And I could live in a prison, I could live in the worst possible conditions, I could suffer anything, and if I have Jesus, if I have Jesus, it’s a palace. The prison turns into a palace if I have Jesus.
I don’t know about you, but when I read things like that, when things like that kind of hit me, land on me, I want that. I want that kind of relationship with Jesus. Suffering’s going to happen, trials are going to happen, aging is going to happen, loss is going to happen, changes of season or place are going to happen. What do you have to fall back on? What are you depending on for your happiness? Jesus says, “I came that they might have life, and have it abundantly.” What kind of life is that? It’s a life that only he can give, and it’s a life that is untouched by the vicissitudes and the changes and the circumstances of this mortal life. How do you get it? You get it through Jesus. Anyone who enters through this gate will be saved. He will go in, he will go out, he will find pasture, life, and life abundantly.
III. How To Enter through This Door
So that leaves just one last thing to consider, and that’s this: how do we enter through the door? It’s really clear. Jesus is the door, and there are certain privileges that he gives to those who enter through him, but you have to enter, right? Verse 9, “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”
There’s a big difference between seeing a door and going through it. There’s a big difference between knowing what a door is and how it functions and actually walking through the doorway. There’s a big difference between just knowing the facts about Jesus and actually trusting Jesus, depending on Jesus, relying upon Jesus. What Jesus is saying here is that you have to enter. You actually have to go through, you actually have to come to the Father through him.
What does that mean? It means to trust him, it means to believe on him, it means to depend on him. It means that you’re looking to Christ, consciously looking to Christ to be the one who gives you access to God.
Another one of these old dead guys that I like is William Bridge. Some of you will remember I was quoting William Bridge a few months ago. I’ve been reading through his works, just slowly, five volumes, and he wrote a wonderful little book called A Lifting Up for the Downcast. It is the best book on depression and discouragement that I’ve ever read. It was written 400 years ago, and it’s better than anything that’s been written in the last hundred years, in my opinion. It’s just full of gospel truth, and there’s one thing that stood out (I remembered this last night) that William Bridge said. He says that you’re not to go to God...the only way to go to God is with Christ in your arms. Every time you go to God, you go with Christ in your arms. You’re holding onto Christ.
Well, that’s what it means to enter through him. Changes the metaphor a little bit, but it’s to go clinging to Christ, with Christ in your arms; it’s to go trusting in him, recognizing that it’s only through him that you have access to God. But if you have Christ in your arms, if you’re trusting Christ, if you’re holding onto him, if you’re self-consciously depending on him, then you are received and accepted for his sake.
Let me end with a story that some of you have heard, but I think it’s been three or four years since I’ve told this. So it will be new to some, and to you who are forgetful it’ll be new to you, too! It’s a wonderful story about this old gentleman and his son who loved art, they loved to collect art, and they were building this collection together. He was a wealthy man, and so he had money to spend, and he and his son would travel around the country and around the world, purchasing these rare portraits and paintings and wonderful masterpieces. They had things like Picassos and Van Goghs and Monets; this wonderful collection of art.
Of course, the joy for this father was that he did this with his son. He was a widower, this was his only son, and he loved his son so much, and he loved this thing that they shared together. They were buying these pieces together.
Then, one of the wars happened, one of the world wars, I think it was, and his son enlisted, went off to fight overseas. Day after day this old man prays, he’s holding his breath, he’s waiting for news, he’s hoping that his son will come back, and then one day there’s a knock on the door. He gets the telegram lined in black and he finds out that is son has died in the service, and of course he’s brokenhearted.
Then, on Christmas morning, there’s another knock on the door, and it’s a soldier at the door who has a package in his hands, and when the old man unwraps it it’s a portrait that was painted of his son. Now, it’s not a masterpiece, it’s not the best portrait that’s ever been done in the history of the world, but for the old man it becomes his pride and his joy. It’s a striking likeness of his son, and he hangs it over the mantel of his fireplace. This is the centerpiece of his collection, and from then on, even as this old man grieves the loss of his son, he takes delight in the portrait of his son.
Finally, the old man grows ill and passes away, and when he did, as the story goes, the art world was extremely interested in finally getting access to this rare collection of paintings. So an auction is held, but the first painting up for auction is the painting or the portrait of the son, and nobody’s interested. The auctioneer tries to sell it for 100 pounds or 100 dollars, and no one will bid. Finally a neighbor of the old man says, “I’ll bid 50 dollars on this piece.” No one else will take it, but he knew the family, so, “I’ll bid 50 dollars on the piece.”
So he does, the gavel falls, it’s sold. Now everybody’s ready for the real auction, the real art pieces to go out. To their shock, dismay, and surprise, the auctioneer says, “The auction is over. The proceedings are done.” There’s stunned disbelief in the room. They’re asking, “Why? What do you mean, it’s over?”
This is what he says. He says, “It’s very simple. According to the will, whoever gets the son gets all.”
So, the penny just dropped for some of you. It’s a wonderful illustration, isn’t it, of what the apostle John says in his letter: “This is the testimony, that God gave us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.”
Listen. If you have Jesus, you get access to everything else. Whoever gets the Son gets all! If you have Jesus, you have life. If you have Jesus, you have salvation. If you have Jesus, you have protection, you have pasture, you have satisfaction, you have nourishment, “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” given to us in Christ. "Out of his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace upon grace." But you get it through him.
Here’s the question this morning. Have you entered through the door? Do you have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ? Have you believed in the Son? Are you depending on him, are you trusting in him? Do you know him? Do you have access to God through Jesus Christ?
If that’s not true of you this morning, it can be true right now if you bow in simple faith and in prayer ask God to receive you for Jesus’s sake and begin a new relationship with Jesus Christ.
For everyone who is a Christian this morning, an encouragement for each one of us is simply this: to keep looking to Christ. He is the master key to every door in the palace of God’s mercy. Let’s look to Christ together. Let’s pray.
Father, we thank you this morning for the generosity of your gracious heart, that you have given this greatest of all gifts, you’ve given us your Son, and that through Christ your Son we have access into this grace in which we stand, we have an entry point into your family, your kingdom, we have access to salvation and all of these blessings of salvation that we’ve discussed this morning.
Father, I pray that as believers this morning we would recognize the privileges that you have given to us. I pray that we would take heart, that we would be encouraged, and that even as we wrestle with the trials and tribulations of life that we would be content to behold your face, that we would resign ourselves to your pleasure, that we would know that Christ is with us. I pray, Lord, that that would be true for every believer.
For those who do not know Christ, that right now, this moment, you would give the gift of faith and repentance so that hearts could turn to Christ and say, “I receive Christ as Savior and as Lord.”
Father, as we come to the Lord’s table this morning, may we come with the right mindset, not expecting that merely by eating a piece of bread and drinking a cup of juice we receive any kind of life, but recognizing that this is a picture, it’s a symbol, it’s a tangible reminder to us that we do receive life and nourishment and everything we need for life and godliness through Jesus Christ. So as we come to the table, may this be a moment where we are coming to Christ in prayer and in faith, with our hearts fully turned to him. Lord, we ask you to be with us during these moments. So draw near now, be glorified in this place as we worship you. In Jesus’s name we pray, Amen.