I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. (John 10:9-10)
There is a parable of the sheepfold in the Gospel of John. It may be difficult to place ourselves in the biblical world to understand its meaning thoroughly, but for people in Jesus’ time, they would comprehend it as soon as they heard it. God had promised them hundreds of years ago that He would personally lead His people, just as a shepherd who led sheep, bringing them to a comfortable place to rest and graze. However, there was not only one shepherd who wanted to enter the sheepfold, but also other shepherds, because in ancient Near East, sheep belonging to different owners would be placed in the same sheepfold, and the gate of the sheep would be watched by a guard, and only shepherds working for different owners were allowed to enter. A shepherd used his unique voice to lead the sheep they were responsible to take care of, took them out to graze and then returned to the sheepfold, and the sheep relied on different voices to identify which one to follow.
However, it is not only the shepherds who want to enter the sheepfold, but also other people with bad intentions. But because the gate is guarded, the thieves cannot enter through the main gate, they have to climb in from other places, and their purpose is to steal, kill, and destroy. Using unscrupulous methods to gain benefits from sheep, they also pretend to be saviors, saying that they want to save you, or give you freedom, but unfortunately, they lead people to a more tragic consequence. History has shown us that there were too many people who pretended to be shepherds to lead a people, telling them how to be successful, valuable, and even how to classify right or wrong in life. Stalin was like that, Hitler was like that, politicians were like that, star or idols were like that, and businessman or media were also like that.
The sheep must listen to their only shepherd. For Christians, Jesus is the only one we listen to. God gives people the ability to listen, not only to receive various sounds, but also to analyze and discern, so that we can filter out the words that are valuable and meaningful to us from the noisy environment. Quite often, we make the noise ourselves. Do we have too many words and subjective voices in our hearts, covering up the voice of the Lord?
Our Shepherd takes care of us, and He will help us continue to follow Him. But the key is that we ourselves must be willing to follow and listen to His voice clearly. Obedience has always been characteristic of Christians. Jesus comes to give the sheep abundant life. We must listen to His voice and be willing to follow His guidance before we can go in and out the pasture. To obey Jesus is not to listen to Him selectively, like if you like it, then you listen, but if you don’t like it; then you don’t listen. Such kind of listening will often make us underdeveloped. The sheep that belong to the Lord must also obey absolutely, so as not to go astray.
By Rev Chiu