Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
There is a classic figure of a malcontent in business, the cut throat boss who will stop at nothing to make sure that everyone below him remains right there. We have seen him portrayed in movies and on television, and some of us have met him in real life. He could be that business leader, or he could wear any of a number of leadership hats. We know him when we see him because his focus is clear. While he has been entrusted with the role of propping up and supporting those who come under him, he really is interested in making sure that he is elevated above them. His focus is ensuring his own survival even if it must come at the expense of theirs.
We will encounter many shepherds in life inside and outside the church. From teachers to bosses to small group leaders to pastors, we will be led by any number of figures during our lifetimes. Some of the shepherds will be good, but some of them will be bad. Jesus gives us many indicators to know which we are following. Even within the church we must be on our guard. If a shepherd is a good shepherd like Jesus, he or she will want to build our lives. The shepherd exists to guide and preserve the life of the sheep. The sheep have value, and the shepherd does not want to compromise that value. When the shepherd stops building the life of the flock but instead begins neglecting it, the sheep must be able to discern that something is amiss.
We cannot be so naive as to think that those who lead us would never deceive us. It is not wrong to trust them, but it is foolish to forget to exercise discernment in all things. Jesus teaches about the counterfeit shepherds who look to destroy the sheep because the sheep must be on their guard at all times. This teaching is the very picture of the good shepherd’s life-preserving work. He does not want us to be deceived and led astray. He wants us to follow those who lead as He leads with the same pure objective of amplifying our lives. Father, thank You that your Son provides the example of what a good shepherd is like so that we can discern who we should follow here.