Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.
Every warning of Christ’s is prophetic. He knows the tactics that the enemy will use to try to ensnare us, so his warnings are also specific. It would not be sufficient for him simply to tell us to be careful and remain wary of the devil’s schemes. He tells us exactly how the enemy operates, then He tells us how we are to respond and protect ourselves. The warning that Jesus provided in this passage is one for the ages as false shepherds appeared before him and continue to appear today. Until He returns, there will be those who try to lead his sheep astray. This warning lays out a simple tactic as well as our simple defense, if only we are wise to see it.
Jesus spoke in a metaphor here, which he cleared up in the following verses by indicating that He is the gate. [v. 7-9] He is the shepherd and the gate simultaneously. Of course, while we live in this world, we will have minor shepherds who lead his flocks to him. We will know those shepherds by the gate through which they lead us. Any earthly shepherd who leads us to a gate which is not the biblical Christ is a false shepherd. Not only that, there will be false shepherds who profess to be the shepherd himself in the flesh. These leaders also can be unmasked as charlatans simply by comparing their words to the word of God. Any who profess to be Christ but come to us in a way other than how He has prophesied his coming cannot be him.
We must be sure that we are truly seeking Christ. If we are seeking anything but what He is, any adulteration of his character, any invention of our own Christ-like lord, that is what we will find. We will be deceived by that which matches our idea. Deception happens when we do not know or seek to know God. His word is clear to those who believe so that we will know him when we encounter him. His voice is known among his sheep. We will be safe from the clutches of the false shepherds if we really know the true shepherd. Father, search us and show us any false understanding or ideas we have of You, that we would know You well and be able to spot the thieves and robbers.