Summary: Jesus tries to get the crowd to see the kind of shepherds the Pharisees were compared to him.
April 22, 2002 John 10:1-10
“I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. 2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. 3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” 6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
After a drawn out and abusive relationship, Shelley finally worked up the courage to break up with Todd, only to go back to him a month later. I would imagine that there are thousands to millions of these kind of relationships going on in the world. I was told that most of the men in the jail that I serve are in there for abusing their spouses. It makes you wonder WHY people stick with relationships or get in relationships like that in the first place. One main problem is that they are drawn to the physical part of someone instead of what’s on the inside.
When Jesus came on the scene, he was trying to break up such a relationship that the Jews had with the Pharisees. The Pharisees looked good on the outside, but on the inside they weren’t so hot. When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. (Matthew 9) So Jesus wanted to get the Jews to see that this relationship was not a good one. In order to do this, Jesus used several parables to try and illustrate his point. With these parables he wanted the Jews sitting there to seriously consider the question - “what kind of a shepherd do you want?” Today we’ll consider that same question a well.
What Kind of a Shepherd Do You Want?
I. A thief and a robber?
Jesus starts out, “I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.” According to the Greek, the word for “thief” is “kleptase” - where we get the word “klepto” from. This is someone who takes something in a crafty way, like a shoplifter. His main weapon is stealth and trickery. Some of the worst thefts that have taken place have come from what they call “inside” jobs - where someone will obtain a job with the company and then figure out their weaknesses and take advantage of them.
That’s how some shepherds have gotten into the ministry throughout the ages. How many priests have deceptively told the Catholic Church, “we will remain celibate,” when in reality they had no intentions of doing so? And so they stole the innocence and trust from young boys who should not have been violated. Many of you may remember Jimmy Bakker and Tammy Faye - smiling before the camera - telling the world what dedicated Christians they were. All they ended up doing was stealing people’s money and ruining God’s reputation. Within the Missouri Lutheran Synod, some teachers purposely remained hidden within the Seminary so that they could influence the young pastors to believe their way. In the end they caused great pain and problems within their Synod. You wonder how they could be so two faced. That’s why Jesus compared them to thieves. They said they were on the same team and that they cared, but they really didn’t. Is that the kind of shepherd you would want?
Or would you rather have a robber? This is someone who takes something by force. Paul had to deal with men like this, and he almost lost his Corinthian congregation over it. He said in 2 Corinthians 11, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face. These were men who were “enslaving them and slapping them in the face.” Whether this was literal or not, Paul was saying that they were being forceful with the Corinthians, and they were letting them get away with it and even praising them for it!