While traveling in Iran, writer Eric Bishop asked a villager about an earthen enclosure topped with dry thorns. The man said sheep stayed in the round space at night for safety. “What are the thorns for?” Bishop asked. “If a wolf tries to break in and attack the sheep,” the man replied, “he’ll knock against the thorns, and they’ll make a noise, and the shepherd will wake up and drive off the wolf.”
Pointing out the enclosure’s doorless entrance, Bishop asked why a wolf wouldn’t just enter there. Because, replied the villager, “that’s where the shepherd sleeps; the shepherd is the door.”
Suddenly Bishop understood why in John 10 Jesus calls himself first the door, or gate, for the sheep and then the Good Shepherd. Because Jesus is the shepherd, he’s also the door that keeps us, his sheep, safe within his care.