The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy;
I came so that they would have life, and have it abundantly.
This morning as I had devotions with my coffee, I chose The Passion Translation and felt led to read John 10. In this translation, in the first verse, Brian Simmons adds the phase Jesus said to the Pharisees, and then continues, “Listen to this eternal truth: The person who sneaks over the wall to enter into the sheep pen, rather than coming through the gate, reveals himself as a thief coming to steal. 2 But the true Shepherd walks right up to the gate, and because the gatekeeper knows who he is, he opens the gate to let him in.”
I have often quoted John 10:10 to refer to our enemy, satan and his evil cohorts. His M-O is always to steal, kill, and destroy. But today as I read through this story, I had a different take on it.
I went back to John 9 where Jesus healed a man born blind. Jesus spat on the ground, made clay, and placed it on his eyes and then told him to wash in the pool of Siloam. The people of his neighborhood were astonished, but they marched him over to the Pharisees because Jesus had done this miracle on the Sabbath, a day Jews weren’t supposed to work. The healed man was brought before the Pharisees for questioning, and they grilled him even to the point they brought in his parents. The Pharisees called Jesus a sinful man and wanted him to agree. We all know his response, “Whether He is a sinner I do not know. There is one thing I do know: I was blind, but now I see!” [Jn 9:25]
At the end of John 9 we see that they threw this man out of the Synagogue. Jesus learned of it and went to find him. In their conversation, Jesus revealed that He was the Son of God. Jesus further said, “I have come to judge those who think they see and make them blind. And for those who are blind, I have come to make them see.” [Jn 9:39] Well, the Pharisees standing nearby heard this and Chapter 10’s parable of the Good Shepherd was told to them.
I believe the thief Jesus refers to in John 10 is actually the work of the enemy on the religious leaders: Sadducees and Pharisees, also known as “hired hands”.
11“I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters the flock. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and does not care about the sheep. [John 10:11-13]
I believe the hired hand represents those in charge of the flock—in His day, the rabbis, and in our days, religious leaders who don’t know the voice of their Shepherd. The wolf is actually the devil, who wants to destroy the sheep.
FROM RESURRECTION TO COMPLETION
That we may be one
Jesus then explains Who He is and His purpose.
14 I am the good shepherd, and I know My own, and My own know Me, 15 just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will listen to My voice; and they will become one flock, with one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life so that I may take it back. 18 No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it back. This commandment I received from My Father.” [John 10:14-18]
Today’s culture is so divided. Yes, the “thief” has come to steal, kill, and destroy, but the “hired hands” haven’t done a very good job at keeping the sheep safe and together. The “flock” is without identity and purpose, and thus they are easy prey for every wind and doctrine as well as an easy target for the thief. Perhaps we really don’t know the voice of our Good Shepherd. If we did, wouldn’t we want to be “one” with Him and with one another?
22 The glory which You have given Me I also have given to them, so that they may be one, just as We are one; 23 I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, so that the world may know that You sent Me, and You loved them, just as You loved Me. [John 17:22,23]
So what can I do about it?
I can pray. I can share with friends. I can encourage others. I can be a witness for Jesus Christ. I can tell my testimony. I can be a pebble in a pond and just see how many ripples I can generate. I can write.
I haven’t written on this Handmaiden site since August 31, 2020. I lost my courage, confidence, or whatever you might call it. Several friends have encouraged me to write again. Last week I clearly heard the Lord say, “Stick it to him. WRITE!” Since that day, I’ve written down some thoughts, done a bit of research, but always could find something else to do with my time. But today, when I read these chapters in John, I knew that today was my day.
The enemy might have stolen my confidence, killed my passion, and destroyed my vision as he whispered “It doesn’t matter. You don’t really have anything worthy to write.” But today, I have once again found my identity and my purpose. I’m going to write and let Holy Spirit take it from here. As for me, I’m going to follow Jesus wherever He leads me. I’d like to end with one more scripture.
My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them,
and they follow Me; [John 10:27]