TO STEAL, AND TO KILL, AND TO DESTROY
By John C. Carpenter
Two thousand years ago, there was a man who was blind from his
birth (John 9:1). Holy Scriptures instruct us that Christ healed this man of his blindness (John 9:7). This healing angered some of
the Pharisees, leaders of the Jewish church during the time of Christ. The Pharisees were specifically angry with Christ for healing
the blind man on the sabbath (John 9:16), because Jewish law strictly prohibited work to be carried out on the Sabbath. During discussion
with the man healed of his blindness, the Lord said, For judgment I am come into this world, that they which see not [spiritually
do not understand] might see [spiritually understand]; and that they which see [arrogantly think they spiritually understand, but
in reality do not understand, as is the case with the Pharisees] might be made blind [made unable to understand spiritually] (John
9:39). Because some of the Pharisees which were with Christ heard these words, and suspected that Christ’s words were a reference
to them, angrily asked the Lord, Are we blind also? (John 9:40).
Holy Scriptures give us the Lord‘s long, but instructive, answer:Jesus said unto them, If ye were blind [confessed you did not understand], ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see [understand];therefore your sin remained. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up
some other way, the same is a thief and a robber. But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter
openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own
sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee
from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. This parable spake Jesus unto them: but they understood not what things they were
which he spake unto them. Then said Jesus unto them again, Verily, verily, I say unto you, I am the door of the sheep. All that ever
came before me are thieves and robbers: but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved,
and shall go in and out, and find pasture. The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they
might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth:
and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down
my life for the sheep (John 9:41-10:15). In these verses, Christ was clearly contrasting, and critically so, the Pharisees with Himself.
at the feast of the dedication (John 10:22), the Pharisees, continuing to reflect their “blindness” and lack of understanding, asked
the Lord How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly (John 10:24). In spite of the mireacle that Christ
had just performed, the Pharisees obviously could not, and did not, recognize the Christ. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye
believed not: the works [miracle which you just witnessed] that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe
not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto
them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is
greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one [united in purpose]. Then the
Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I showed you from my Father; for which of those
works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou,
being a man, makest thyself God. Jesus answered them, Is it not written in your law, I said, Ye are gods? If he called them gods,
unto whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken; Say ye of him, whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into
the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not. But if I do,
though ye believe not me, believe the works: that ye may know, and believe, that the Father is in me, and I in him (John 10:25-38).
a scathing response from the Lord. In these verses, Christ explained to the Pharisees that: (1) because they claimed to have spiritual
understanding, when in reality they did not understand, their sin remained, (2) they entered the sheepfold by some other way than
Christ, the door to the sheepfold, (3) the porter [probably the Holy Spirit] of the sheepfold opens the door to the minister who enters
[is called and guided] by the door [Christ], the sheep hear his voice, he calleth his own sheep by name and he leads them; but the
porter did not open the door into the sheepfold for the Pharisees, (4) they were strangers, who the sheep will not follow, but flee
from, (5) they did not understand what Christ was saying, (6) they placed themselves before Christ [in importance], the sheep did
not hear them, and they were thieves and robbers, (7) they were stealing, killing, and destroying, (8) they were hirelings, and not
true shepherds, (9) they see the wolf coming, leave the sheep, and flee, which causes the wolf to catch and scatter the sheep, (10)
they were hirelings, because they did not truly care for the sheep, (12) they clearly did not recognize Christ, (13) and, lastly,
they believed not, because they were not of Christ’s sheep [had not entered into a personal relationship with Christ].
further explained that His sheep, those who He knows personally, hear His voice, and follow [respond to the leading of] only Christ.
As a result, Christ gives His sheep eternal life, they shall never perish, and no man [no person, including the Pharisees] is able
to pluck [seize, take by subtlety or force] them out of His hand, because the Heavenly Father is the one who gave Christ His own sheep,
and no man is able to pluck them out of God the Father’s hand [challenge and bypass the Father’s perfect will, including those who
will and will not come to faith in His Son, Jesus Christ]. Christ summarized and concluded His critical comments to the Pharisees
when He told them, Ye are gods [believe they are gods and godly in the ordinary and worldly sense, and therefore deserving of deference
from others, but in truth not subservient to Christ (see Psalms 82:6 and Isaiah 41:23)].
Many in the organized, contemporary
Christian church believe [and are teaching others] that, in John 10:10, the “thief” is the devil, or Satan, and that Satan is the
one who is “stealing, killing, and destroying.” As in all other exegetical issues pertaining to the Holy Scriptures, the Scriptures
are the only proper interpretative source; and in this case the Scriptures do verify for us who the “thief” truly is. In particular,
some old testament verses clarify this issue for us. Prophetically describing the “wicked” (Jeremiah 12:1), the prophet Jeremiah wrote,Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness (Jer
12:10). Jeremiah later added, Woe be unto the pastors that destroy and scatter the sheep of my pasture! saith the LORD (Jer 23:1).
Regarding those who steal, Jeremiah prophetically wrote, Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my
words every one from his neighbour (Jer 23:30). The old testament prophet Ezekiel also contributes to our understanding. Jeremiah
wrote, Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD unto the shepherds;
Woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves! should not the shepherds feed the flocks? Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe
you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock. The diseased have ye not strengthened, neither have ye healed
that which was sick, neither have ye bound up that which was broken, neither have ye brought again that which was driven away, neither
have ye sought that which was lost; but with force and with cruelty have ye ruled them (Ezek 34:2-4). Finally, Isaiah prophetically
wrote, For the leaders of this people cause them to err; and they that are led of them are destroyed (Isa 9:16). Clearly, according
to the words of Christ, as well as other Scriptures, it is false ministers [apostles, prophets, pastors, evangelists, and teachers],
in and out of the organized Christian church, who are stealing, killing, and destroying. We might ask, if false ministers are stealing,
killing, and destroying, how can the true believer avoid being taken advantage of? In John 10:10, Christ not only taught and warned
us about the “thief,” but He also taught us how to avoid the thief. The Lord wrote, The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to
kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly (John 10:10). If we desire
life, and life more abundantly, we must seek Christ, and no other. AMEN.