“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep.” We continue on in the Profound series with more on The Good Shepherd. Here in John 10, Jesus makes definitive statements about the character and nature of the shepherd. In contrast, the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Furthermore, the sheep, despite the commonly held notion that these animals are dumb, do not recognize the voice of the interloper but in full trust recognize the voice of the shepherd. Not so dumb after all.
There is a distinction in criminal law between robbery and burglary. Many people say when their home is entered and items were stolen while they are away that, “I’ve been robbed.” These folks are the victim of a burglary, a violation of section 459 of the California Penal Code. A robbery is defined under section 211 and involves the taking of something from the person or immediate presence of the person by force or fear. Thus, if you are away from your home and a break-in happens, you were burglarized and not robbed. So if the thief climbs the wall of the sheepfold and takes a lamb and the owner is not present, is this really a robbery or a burglary? Was Jesus incorrect in characterizing the intruder as a robber? The answer is no.
Jesus is speaking to us through metaphor and references to real-life activities and structures. He is not a physical gate but He is the spiritual gate. He is the shepherd to us metaphorical sheep. The thief can be attributed to Satan and his henchmen. When the thief enters he comes to rob us of our peace, grace, and connection with Jesus. He does this not by coming when we aren’t around, he attacks us personally in our hearts and minds. The taking of our peace is directly from our person and certainly in our presence. Therefore, this is a robbery.
In too many life situations, the enemy comes and speaks. The sheep cower because they do not recognize the voice of the shepherd but in fear, the enemy steals. If they had heard the voice of the shepherd then they would have been at peace and the presence of the shepherd would have provided protection. I feel that God is always speaking to us. In every situation He is present. Sadly because we do not know the voice of God we only can hear the fear-inducing tones of the enemy. When you do not know the voice of Jesus, it is easy for the forces of evil to overwhelm. The attack is always personal, never when you are away.
The key to protection is to enter by the gate of Jesus Christ. Learn to recognize His voice. Attune your “ears” to the still small voice that comes from above. So when the robber lurks around, you will be secure in heart and mind.