“Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” John 10:1–4
The enemy is crafty. He disguises himself as a caring shepherd in order to gain access into our lives and, ultimately, to destroy us. If we are truly following Jesus, we will sense the enemy’s designs and ignore his voice.
Jesus, in His ongoing dialogue with the contradictory Pharisees, told a parable: “He who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep” (John 10:1–2). This was a direct indictment against the Jewish leaders. Jesus was calling these men, who claimed to be shepherds of Israel, thieves and robbers. The Pharisees’ animosity toward Jesus made manifest that they were not truly God’s servants.
Thieves and Robbers
What do thieves do? Steal, kill, and destroy. The Pharisees had taken the system that Moses had passed on to them and ripped the heart out of it, replacing it with their humanistic thoughts and ideas. In misrepresenting the law of Moses, they were depriving people of salvation.
The religious leaders did not understand Jesus’ illustration. “I am the door of the sheep,” He explained. “If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved” (John 10:7, 9). This is the third “I am” statement made by Jesus. He is the door, the only One through whom a person can enter the sheepfold—the kingdom of God. In contrast to the leaders, who seemed unconcerned with people’s salvation, Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
The Good Shepherd
Jesus quickly followed His third “I am” statement with a fourth: “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11). The term “good shepherd” often reminds us of Psalm 23. But hundreds of years before Jesus came to earth, the Lord expressed a complaint against the leaders of Israel in the book of Ezekiel:
“Woe to the shepherds of Israel who feed themselves! Should not the shepherds feed the flocks? I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the Lord, have spoken” (Ezekiel 34:2, 23–24).
When Jesus told the Pharisees, “I am the Good Shepherd,” I have a feeling that they thought of Ezekiel 34. Jesus Himself was the “one shepherd” that God was establishing over Israel to care for them. No wonder the Jews were jealous of Him.
Jesus made a further distinction between Himself and the religious leaders: “I am the Good Shepherd, and I demonstrate it by laying down My life for the sheep. A hireling won’t do that.” The religious leaders were hirelings. They did their job for prestige and power—everything except for the people.
The Voice of the Lord
Sheep are tuned in to their shepherd’s voice. If another person calls them, even if he imitates the shepherd’s voice exactly, the sheep will not respond. Among the common people of Israel there was obviously a growing dissatisfaction regarding their spiritual leaders, because many were forsaking the Pharisees and following Jesus. Jesus was the true Shepherd, and the people knew His voice.
When the Lord speaks to us, even though at times He rebukes or challenges us, there is love in His voice. Like sheep, we won’t listen to anyone else. What was it that tuned the sheep to the shepherd’s voice? The sense of their shepherd’s love and concern for them.
Tune In to His Voice
The Lord’s voice comforts—it reminds us that we are His and He is ours. May our hearts be tender and our ears be tuned to the voice of our Shepherd.
Do you ever listen to voices of condemnation and heaviness and guilt? “I think the Lord is angry with me,” you say. “I don’t even know if I’ll make it to heaven.” That’s not the voice of the Good Shepherd. It’s the voice of the Devil, the accuser of the brethren. Run to the true Shepherd, Jesus Christ. His voice will calm and comfort and strengthen your heart.