“‘Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep.’” – John 10:1-2 (ESV)
Perhaps, this was Jesus’ retort to the false preachers of that time. But I don’t want to delve into the controversial topic such as that. And I suppose, Jesus’ intent in subtly laying the truth was also a way to reach His elect, while condemning the rest, while avoiding unnecessary confrontation. Because further down, He is also quoted as saying – the difference will be laid bare when His sheep follow Him (and not them), because they know His voice. (Jn 10:4)
Matthew Henry writes, “The Pharisees supported themselves in their opposition to Christ with this principle, that they were the pastors of the church, and that Jesus, having no commission from them, was an intruder and an impostor, and therefore the people were bound in duty to stick to then, against him. In opposition to this, Christ here describes who were the false shepherds, and who the true, leaving them to infer what they were.” I found these words very powerful. How crystal clear is the elucidation. The false preachers of that time demanded to hold monopoly over the truth. And their claim for such authority was that ‘they were the pastors of the church’. The end conclusion being, trust them, their false preaching, and turn against Christ – because He speaks differently, and because His truth defies their claim.
Christ warned that there were still many of such preachers to come. Pastors who will try to enter the sheepfold not through the door, but by climbing the other way. These are pastors who will not preach the word (scripture), and these are pastors who will not come through the door (Christ). These are pastors will come claiming miracles, material prosperity, judgement-free Christianity and whatnot; just because they hold a theology degree and a formal career in the pastoral office. It is interesting how Christ’s warning (Mt 7:15) also comes after Him describing the two gates (Mt 7:14) – the narrow which leads to heaven, and the wide which leads to condemnation. The former being Christ (narrow gate).
But why are we discussing a topic so morbid and controversial during the Christmas Season? It is because, only when Christ came – we were given the first hand account of the truth. In the Old Covenant, the truth was delivered to us through the prophets. And there were much room for being lost in translation. The situation so demanded further perseverance. There was also much room for speculation, and much room for being misled. But when Christ came, all opportunities of speculation were laid to rest. Because in the New Covenant (through Christ), we share a much intimate relationship with Him. We do not need a (humanly frail) third party to teach us, or intercede for us. Because in the New Covenant, it is the Holy Spirit that personally illuminates the word for us. (1Jn 2:27) And that is something worth celebrating during Christmas.
How fortunate are we, that Christ (apart from granting us salvation), also secured us from the seduction of false preachers. Truly, “nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 8:39, NLT)
Read previous entries in this Series:
(i) Introduction: What Christ wants this Christmas (ii) December 1: Prepare the Way (iii) December 2: Mary’s Magnificent God (iv) December 3: The Confidence of Redeeming Hope (v) December 4: A Big God for Little People (vi) December 5: What He Willed to do (vii) December 6: Peace to those with whom He is pleased (viii) December 7: Messiah of all (ix) December 8: Christ is Central in Christmas(x) December 9: Two Kinds of Oppositions (xi) December 10: Our Treasure (xii) December 11: Why Jesus came (xiii) December 12: Replacing the Shadows (xiv) December 13: Christ, the Real Thing, the Perfect Priest (xv) December 14: Making Transformation Real (xvi) December 15: Abundant Life (xvii) December 16: An Unlikely Route to Victory (xviii) December 17: Freedom & Joy Secured in Him (xix) December 18: Pass Me Not (xx) December 19: Overcoming the Power of Death (xxi) December 20: Salvation Unites Us (xxii) December 21: LOGOS (xxiii) December 22: The Importance of Awe