"He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.John 10:12(NASB)
The Lord is OUR Shepherd Who provides all we need for life and godliness. He is the Faithful Shepherd, Who cares for His people and encourages us to lie down in green pastures. He is the One Who leads us beside quiet pools of refreshments, restores our fainting soul, and guides us into the pathway of righteousness and peace.
He is that Great Shepherd of the sheep and the Father of all mercies. He is the God of all comfort and peace, Who raised Christ from the dead - Whose blood secured the everlasting covenant He promised to His people Israel. He is our Chief Shepherd and Sovereign Lord of all, for He is the Supreme Man and Prince of all pastors and teachers. And when He appears, we shall receive a crown of glory that will never fade away.
He is JESUS, the Good Shepherd of the sheep, Who knows those who are His, and Whose voice is recognised by the sheep of His pasture. He is the Eternal Shepherd, Who gives His own life for the sheep of His pasture. The one who is a hired-hand is a false and evil usurper. Such a scoundrel is not a true and trustworthy shepherd. "He who is a hired hand, and is not a shepherd who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them."
John is given a serious warning about false pastors and teachers. Such people are not like the Owner of the sheep. The True Shepherd of the sheep cares for His flock and is responsible for their well-being. He loves His people with an everlasting love, but the false, faithless shepherd sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees far away.
Such a person is a good-for-nothing charlatan, who allows the snarling wolf to snatch the defenceless sheep in his care. He is an idle shepherd who scatters the precious flock. He will not seek and save that which is lost. He will not help the wounded nor heal the broken-hearted. He is a selfish hireling who will not feed those that are sound and strong. He exploits them. He devours the flesh of the fat ones, breaking off their hoofs and consuming their flesh.
It is not in a shepherd's job-description to die for the flock in his care, but Jesus came to die for His sheep. He was sent to give His life as the ransom price for their lives. He came at His first advent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. He came as their Passover Lamb to redeem His people from enslavement to their sin.
But, He was despised by His own people and rejected by those He came to save. He was led as a Lamb to the slaughter. He came as the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world through the shedding of His own redeeming blood. He came to die in their stead. "Let His blood be on us and on our children", they snarled. NEVER was a truer word spoken or a more poignant prophecy uttered than this declaration, for the blood of Christ was shed to atone for their sins. He died that they TOO, might live.
Jesus stressed His identity as Israel's Good and Gracious Shepherd. They should have KNOWN Him, Whom to KNOW is life eternal. They should have recognised Him as the promised Seed, through Whom all the families of the earth would be blessed. He identified Himself as their appointed Messiah-King, through signs, wonders, and many mighty miracles. He preached many sermons and proclaimed His mission was to bring in His kingdom of peace and prosperity. But first, He had to topple all the spiritual forces in high, heavenly places before He could bring in the kingdom of heaven on earth. Jesus came to His own people, but Israel announced, "we will not have this Man rule over us", thus causing their promised kingdom to be postponed - for a season.
Today the Christian Church are the sheep of His pasture. "Other sheep I have, who are not of this fold," He told Israel. And during this Church dispensation, we have also been warned that there are hired hands who mislead the people, and false shepherds, who are not honest pastors and teachers. They are false teachers, who infiltrate the Body of Christ. They are faithless 'shepherds', who withstand the truth of the gospel of grace. "Men of debased intellects", as Paul calls them, "false teachers who are of no real worth so far as faith is concerned."
Jude warned that "certain persons have crept in unnoticed who are marked out for this condemnation. They are ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness. They deny our only Master and Lord." Peter also warned that, "there will also be false teachers among you, who will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing swift destruction upon themselves." John also warns us to, "test the spirits to see whether they are from God."
Throughout the Word of God, we are warned of false prophets, apostate teachers and hired-hands that are not true shepherds, but manipulative hirelings who lead the people of God astray, place them in spiritual danger and use them for their own personal interests. But we have a Good and Gracious Shepherd, Who loves us so much that He laid down His life for the sheep.
The more we KNOW His Word, the more we KNOW the Good Shepherd and the closer we become to HIM. Let us diligently read, mark, learn, inwardly digest and apply His Word in every area of life, so that we are not deceived by a hireling or scattered by vicious wolves. Let us make time to get to KNOW the Lord Jesus intimately and to be made more and more like Him.
Heavenly Father, thank You that Jesus is the Good and Great Shepherd of the sheep and that He has brought me into his extended sheepfold and died so that I might live. Keep me ever mindful that there are hired hands who are not true pastors, and teachers who deliberately deceive the people of God or misguidedly lead your people astray because they lack sound, scriptural understanding. I pray that I would increase in my knowledge and understanding of Scripture, so that I will not be hoodwinked by a wolf in sheep's clothing or led astray by unbiblical teachings. Keep me looking to Jesus and help me to grow in grace and in a knowledge of the Lord Jesus, in Whose name I pray, AMEN.