Good Shepherd

John 10:1-18
“Truly, truly I tell you,

Jesus used this illustration with them, but they didn’t understand what he was saying to them. So again Jesus said, “Truly, truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep.

I am the gate. If anyone enters through me, he will be saved. He will come in and go out and find pasture.

I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must lead these also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock and one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it back again. No one is taking it from me; I lay it down of my own free will. I have the authority to lay it down, and I have the authority to take it back again. This is a command that I have received from my Father.”

Position Character
Hireling A hireling is neither a stranger nor a thief. He is a legitimate carer. But he is in it only for the money. He is not the shepherd, and does not own the sheep, therefore they are not his life. He puts his own life ahead of them. If a wolf comes, the hireling runs away to protect himself. He is not willing to endanger his life for the sake of the sheep. Jesus is here making reference to the Jewish religious leaders who had some legitimacy since they were appointed by the law. They however did not have their hearts in the right place and put their own lives ahead of the welfare of the people they served. The people were consequently “like sheep without a shepherd” (Mark 6:34).
Stranger A stranger cannot lead the sheep because the doorkeeper (God) will not admit a stranger to the sheepfold (the church). Should the stranger climb into the sheepfold other than by the door, the sheep will not follow him because they do not recognize his voice (false doctrine). The stranger does not know the sheep by name like the shepherd does. The sheep do not know the stranger and do not trust him.
Thief The thief comes to steal the sheep. Jesus calls the stranger “a thief and a robber”. There were such thieves and robbers before Jesus came. He predicted that there would continue to be thieves and robbers after his departure. “Many false prophets will arise and mislead many” (Matt 24:11). Thieves do not have the welfare of the sheep in mind. They come only “to steal, and to kill, and to destroy”. But Jesus came to give abundant life to the sheep. Only he can “give eternal life to them” the thief brings nothing but death.
Good Shepherd The shepherd has a full commitment to the sheep, and consequently has their full trust. The good shepherd will even lay down his life for the sheep, so much does he care about them.

Recommended reading for further study: