Jesus speaks of the thief who came to steal, kill, and destroy. Who is that thief and what did he come to steal, kill, destroy? How shall we prevent or counter? I have recently encountered some cases which I am now led to share. First bear in mind what Jesus has actually said when he said, “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” (John 10:10)
Reading the whole passage below (John 10:1-18), we find a number of important words Jesus speaks of: sheepfold, thief and robber, gate, gatekeeper, sheep, Jesus, flock, saved, steal, kill, destroy, good shepherd, sacrifices life, hired hand, money, authority, commanded.
We know by now that Jesus is talking about His believers (followers). His disciples. They are His sheep and belong to His sheepfold. Note that they can recognize Jesus’ voice, come to Him, be led by Him, and follow Him. Why did Jesus come? Jesus came to this world to save His sheep, give them a rich and satisfying life.
On the other hand there is an enemy group who came to this world with the purpose to destroy life. Jesus called them thieves and robbers. They came to steal life, kill life and destroy life. Another group is called hired hand who works for money and does not care about the life and death of the sheep. They are not real shepherds. They abandon the congregation and run away when danger comes. Note that in these two cases the two groups share one common goal: each has its own selfish and evil agenda. One openly opposes Jesus and His followers, aggressively attacks and destroys, whereas the other one pretends to be on the side of Jesus and His sheep but in fact passively deceives and destroys too. The thief (open enemy of God) hates God. The hired hand is indifferent to God. Both have no love for God.
Only God (The Father, the Son Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) can give life. Jesus can give hIs life and take it again. Jesus loves the Father and obeys His commands. “This command I have received from My Father.” Jesus refers to the command to lay down His life for the salvation of mankind.
John 10:1-18 New Living Translation (NLT) The Good Shepherd and His Sheep
10 “I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! 2 But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.”
6 Those who heard Jesus use this illustration didn’t understand what he meant, 7 so he explained it to them: “I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who came before me[a] were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. 9 Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.[b] They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. 10 The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. 12 A hired hand will run when he sees a wolf coming. He will abandon the sheep because they don’t belong to him and he isn’t their shepherd. And so the wolf attacks them and scatters the flock. 13 The hired hand runs away because he’s working only for the money and doesn’t really care about the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me, 15 just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd.
17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again. For this is what my Father has commanded.”
Another significant point is there are people who are not of Jesus’ sheep. They do not believe in Jesus even when they see the many supernatural good works that Jesus did in God’s name and authority. They even tried to kill Jesus for claiming to be the Son of God. (John 10:25-32)
But those who believe belong to Jesus. What will be their rewards for believing? Jesus gives us eternal life, and we shall never perish and no one can snatch us out of God’s hand (or Jesus’ hand). (John 10:27-30)
Why are some people against Jesus? They feel offended that He claims to be the Son of God. They are jealous of Him. They want to have what He has but cannot have. This is not new. The devil became devil because he wants to be God.
Application today: Read the Bible and believe. Hear the Holy Spirit and obey. Be assured of our salvation and position in Christ as the children of God. Know that we have eternal life, rich and satisfying abundant life. Be aware that there are two groups of oppositions to God’s salvation through Jesus. These enemies of Jesus will try to cause damages and losses (in varying degrees) to Christians. Know the assurance from Jesus that God (the Father) is greater than all. We can be safe in His hands. (John 10:29)
NB: A case: a family of four (excluding the dad who passed away) have been severely and bitterly divided. The two siblings hate each other. Being unable to forgive each other has robbed them and the family of peace and love. The youngest member, still a child, growing up in this environment is being conditioned and adversely affected in body, soul and spirit. The only way to return to the peace that Jesus as given is to come back to the passage and obey Jesus: forgive and reconciled truthfully. One essential key is to walk by the Spirit and not be flesh.