THIEVES IN THE SHEEP PEN
“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.” John 10:1
This conversation with the Pharisees took place after Jesus spat in the dirt, made a small portion of mud, and used it to cure a man’s blindness. The religious leaders He was addressing had just demonstrated their heart, or lack of, for this blind man who had not seen a thing from birth. They denied Jesus’ validity, attempted to point the man’s faith in the opposite direction, and then threw him out of the temple for his testimony. It was clear that they had no heart for him, a sheep in their fold. This man believed Jesus and came to know his true shepherd’s voice.
There are still thieves and robbers who would attempt to scale the wall and enter the pen. They corrupt the faith of the sheep and their leadership is never for the sheep’s good. Jesus directly points a finger at the Pharisees’ abuse of power.
A thief and a robber is anyone who uses his platform to deny Jesus’ claims, to lead others away from salvation and the abundant life Jesus offers. These are far the far reaching implications of Jesus’ words. He has just revealed Himself as the door. He loves the sheep, they know Him by His voice, He knows them by name, and He loves His people to the point of dying in their place. Those attempting to lead the church in any way other than the ways of Jesus should be recognized for their agenda. Though they have the ability to deceive, Jesus’ words provide a warning.
Ultimately, the Pharisees were robbers. By denying Jesus as the Messiah, they veiled Him from the people they led. Instead of pointing their flock toward the One they had all been waiting for, they encouraged unbelief. Dangerous ground for a shepherd. The Old Testament is laden with warnings that begin with, “Woe to the shepherds….”
Who am I following? Is the integrity of the Word upheld? Is Jesus showcased as Savior, as God in the flesh, as the crucified, risen Lord? In these last days, thieves and robbers abound. God promises to sharpen our discernment so that we might instantly recognize the likings of a false shepherd.
I love the litmus test You gave me, Lord. When listening to a spiritual leader, I try to imagine You standing in their place. Is this what You would say? Is this how You would say it? Is this how you would lead Your sheep? Is this how you loved Your sheep? Lead me to the right answers. In Jesus name, Amen