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.
For some unsound reason in the past...I pictured the guy jumping over the wall at the back of the fold being someone sneaking into fellowship with God...like that could even happen. Sneak-I think not. But if you read the rest of the chapter, it's clear that this is not a "sheep", but a robber trying to lead the sheep out. Jesus said that the sheep don't know the foreign voice and are not fooled...but he says of some of the jews and this I don't fully understand "I told you, and ye believed not: the works 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 (10:25,26).
"And some of the Pharisees which were with him heard these words, and said unto him, Are we blind also? Jesus said unto them, if ye were blind, ye should have no sin: but now ye say, We see; therefore your sin remaineth (9:40,41)
I see a little drama play out in my head of all these sheep safe in the fold for the night and a man climbing over the fold wall. He calls to the sheep hoping to coax and steal them away quietly. Some of them don't even turn around, they have ears only for one. Some of the sheep are momentarily fooled thinking any man willing to let them out to pasture has their best interest in mind even in the dead of night...but they still stay in the fold not wanting to be separated from the flock they know is safe and remembering the good shepherd that will come in the morning to lead them out if they are patient. In the end they huddle in the corner away from the intruder, he smells wrong, sounds wrong and no matter how sweetly he croonds-he's creepy to the sheep in the fold.
And then we have the wondering sheep during the day-How does it seem to you? If a man has a hundred sheep and one of them will go astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine in the mountain and go on searching for that lost one? Mathew 18:12. So sheep that just wonder off are pursued by the good shepherd. I would think the rest of the flock are left to hired hands (12) contentedly grazing...not forsaken on the hillside. I tend to think this lost sheep is not defiant, but a bit willful and now hopelessly lost-wanting to be found. I don't think this sheep, even in it's lost state, would follow a strange voice. If anything...it could only be comforted by the voice of the good shepherd.
Why does this parable make me happy this morning? Because I think I've been found wondering a few times. But I know that Jesus still loves me. I'm also comforted that if I'm tested, if I'm pursued by a strange voice, that I will have no desire to follow because I know a voice so much more sweet and true. It's faith too grand to achieve with effort...it's simply given in love and grace on a grassy hillside. It's a beautiful parable.A