Dear Brother Beebe: If it is not too much for me to ask, I would like to have your views through the SIGNS on John x. 9. especially on the last part of the verse, and shall go in and out and find pasture. Your compliance with this request will greatly oblige your brother, in hope of eternal life,
Wm. P. Robertson.
French’s Island, Indiana, Nov. 10, 1858.
Reply: The text proposed for consideration reads, “I am the door; by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture.” Among the numerous figures employed in the inspired volume to set forth the relations of our Lord Jesus Christ to his people, and the unspeakable benefits resulting to the saints from such relations, we have the very familiar figure of a shepherd and sheep. The prophet Isaiah says, “Behold the Lord God will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him; behold his reward is with him, and his work before him. He shall feed his flock like a shepherd, he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom.” And the psalmist says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” In the connection of our text, our Lord Jesus Christ claims that he is this Shepherd, and consequently that he is the Lord God. Divine Justice recognized him in this character, in the words of Zechariah, “Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered, and I will turn my hand upon the little ones.” This prediction was fulfilled in the person and offering of our divine Redeemer. He says in our context, “I am the good Shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” Again, “I am the good Shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” The prophets assert, and the apostle repeats the declaration, that “All we, like sheep have gone astray, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all,” who like sheep had gone astray; and as a consequence, “We are returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls.”
But the Shepherd and Bishop has not only taken on him the iniquities of all his sheep, and borne them in his own body on the tree, laid down his life for his sheep, but his work which was before him, was also to gather them with his arm, and to carry them in his bosom; and as the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne, he leads them to living fountains, and into green pastures where they shall feed and lie down.
When Jesus spake the parable recorded in the first five verses of this chapter, unto the Jews, they understood not what he said unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever came before me are thieves and robbers; but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door; by me if any man enter in he shall be saved.”
Three important ideas are expressed. First, Christ is the door by which all his sheep enter the spiritual sheepfold. Second, all who enter the sheepfold by him shall be saved, and all who enter by any other way are thieves and robbers, and shall perish. Third, all who enter by him shall go in and out and find pasture.
1. Christ is the door of his sheep, and the only way by which his sheep could be lawfully delivered from the bondage of the law, cleansed from guilt and pollution, and brought into the liberty of the gospel. “All we like sheep had gone astray,” had trespassed, and were lawful captives, held by a just and righteous law for the trespass committed. Divine Justice, as a porter at our prison door, refused to open the prison to us; but to him our Shepherd, the porter opened; he having laid down his life for the sheep with all their iniquities laid on him. As he had redeemed them, the porter opened the door to him, and with the door unbarred and legally opened, he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out, and having thus delivered them from bondage and wrath, he putteth forth his own sheep, and only his own, and having done this, he goeth before them, (namely, his own sheep.) And the sheep, his own sheep, follow him, and by him, as their door, they enter into his sheepfold, Led out of the Jewish sheepfold, in which they were held, by their Shepherd to whom the porter had opened, they are made experimentally familiar with their Shepherd’s voice; it has strong and irresistible attractions, for hearing his voice, they follow him, and as his followers they enter by him in to the gospel fold, to which also he must bring all his other sheep, which were not of the Jewish fold, from the Gentile tribes and kindreds of the earth, and there shall be one fold and one Shepherd. Through him, as the door of the sheep, they are led out of their prison, and into their liberty.
2. All who enter the sheepfold by him, shall be saved. This declaration is plain and positive, and securely embraces all the sheep and lambs of our Lord Jesus Christ. As he laid down his life for them, he has redeemed them from all iniquity, all their iniquities being by the Father laid on him, and he having put away their sins by the sacrifice of himself, he has risen from the dead for their justification. Has put them forth from condemnation and wrath, their life being in him, and calleth them as his own sheep by name, having a perfect knowledge of them; even as the Father knoweth me, so know I the Father, and I lay down my life for the sheep. The foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, “The Lord knoweth them that are his.” And he knoweth them as perfectly as his Father knoweth him, and as he knoweth the Father. By his knowledge, therefore shall he justify many, for he shall bear their iniquities, and “In him shall all the seed of Israel be justified and shall glory.” Not the children of the flesh, for they are not the children of God, but the children of the promise, are counted for the seed. “My sheep hear my voice, I know them and they follow me, and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all, and none is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” It follows, beyond a question, THEY SHALL BE SAVED.
3. “And shall go in and out and find pasture.” Brother Robertson desires us to dwell particularly on this part of the text, but we can perhaps convey the view we entertain as well in few words. As our brother resides in a pastoral country among the flocks of Indiana, he knows that a sheepfold is a place for the sheep to be folded for safety and comfort in the winter, or when it is not safe or comfortable for them to feed in the open pasture. As their circumstances may require, the good Shepherd will lead them forth into the green pastures, by the still but living waters which John saw streaming from the throne of God and the Lamb, clear as crystal, and cause them even to lie down in green pastures in perfect safety, but when the chilling east wind beats, and the driving tempest howls, or the winter snow and ice cover the grass, and when the ravening wolves are prowling around for prey, the careful Shepherd causes them to pass under his rod or crook, that he may see distinctly that every sheep and lamb is cared for, he brings them into the fold or shelter, where they are not to fast or starve, for there also the Shepherd has wholesome food for them, well suited to their needs. Thus they go in to the fold or shelter, and out into the green fields, and find pasture. They do not go out of Christ, or out of the bounds of his sovereign saving grace, for their life is hid with Christ in God, so that when Christ shall appear they shall appear with him in glory. But they are sometimes in the furnace of afflictions, and sometimes on the mount, sometimes in fiery trials, and sometimes in the banqueting-house, but in all their apparent vacillations they shall find pasture. The Lord is their Shepherd; they shall not want.
November 15, 1858.
Elder Gilbert Beebe
Editorials Volume 4
Pages 149 – 160