The thief. What a perfect description of who our enemy is and how he goes about his business. He comes when we are not looking, when we are not paying attention, when we least expect it, and he kills and steals and destroys. Notice it doesn’t say he kills or steals or destroys. It says he kills and steals and destroys—all of the above.
He kills our dreams and our hopes and our faith by convincing us to believe his lies. He steals our joy and our delight and our trust by making us believe things about ourselves and about our God that are simply not true. He destroys our peace and our love and our gratitude by getting us consumed with ourselves and our circumstances—filling us with anxiety and insecurity and frustration. And most of the time we don’t even realize that he is the one behind all of these things. It’s simply masterful.
So when Jesus draws our attention to the thief, and to his ways, it causes us to stop and say, “Hey, wait a minute. What’s going on here? Why on earth am I allowing this “thief” to come and go as he pleases? Why do I continue to allow him to wreak havoc in my life?” For if we were to realize that it is indeed the thief that is behind all of this carnage, we would not continue to allow him to operate unhindered.
Maybe that’s why Jesus calls himself both the gate (John 10:9) and the good shepherd (John 10:11) in this passage, because he knows we are in desperate need of both. We need Jesus to keep the thief out and keep him from coming and going as he pleases. And we need Jesus to continually speak to our hearts and remind us of the truth of who we are in him. We need his protection and we need his affection. We are his sheep. And his sheep must recognize his voice and run away from the voice of the “stranger.” The voice of Jesus, our good shepherd, calls us by name and leads us out, into the truth. The truth that sets us free.
So today I must say yes to the voice of the good shepherd and I must say “no, not today” to the voice of the one who comes to kill and steal and destroy. That is the only way I will be able to experience the life and the abundance that Jesus promises.
Lord Jesus, thank you that you do not steal and kill and destroy, but that you give abundant life. Empower me now, O Lord, to stand against the thief who is constantly trying to rob and deceive me, and help me to listen to your voice of truth, which alone can set me free. Amen.