John 10:5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.
We are the sheep, Jesus is the shepherd. We follow him because we are born of God and know the truth and know what is right. We know when a shepherd is false because he either speaks lies or acts in a non-shepherd-like way, so we reject this voice of the stranger.
John 10:6-7 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. (7) So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.
Jesus is the way into the sheepfold. The door lets the sheep in and keeps the wolves out. This is what Jesus does. See John 14:6; Romans 5:1-2; 1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 10:19-22
John 10:8-9 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. (9) I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
Those who were not good shepherds, were thieves and robbers – people like the Scribes and Pharisees, who didn’t love and care about the sheep, but only cared what that could get from the sheep. For example, God castigates the religious leaders of Israel in the days of Ezekiel:
Ezekiel 34:7-8 “Therefore, you shepherds, hear the word of the LORD: (8) As I live, declares the Lord GOD, surely because my sheep have become a prey, and my sheep have become food for all the wild beasts, since there was no shepherd, and because my shepherds have not searched for my sheep, but the shepherds have fed themselves, and have not fed my sheep,
The same situation doubtless has occurred through the ages and today as well.
John 10:10-12 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. (11) I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (12) He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them.
Many religious leaders care only for the benefits they can extract from their position. They don’t feed the sheep the right food – they don’t teach them the truth about God and Jesus, thereby putting the life of the sheep at risk. For example, we read in 2 Timothy 3:6-9
(6) For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, (7) always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth. (8) Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men corrupted in mind and disqualified regarding the faith. (9) But they will not get very far, for their folly will be plain to all, as was that of those two men.
These false shepherds certainly have a following, but the true sheep will not listen to their voice, because it is not the voice or words of Jesus. Following on in 2 Timothy 3 we read:
(10) You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness, (11) my persecutions and sufferings that happened to me at Antioch, at Iconium, and at Lystra–which persecutions I endured; yet from them all the Lord rescued me. (12) Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, (13) while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived. (14) But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it (15) and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. (16) All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, (17) that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
So we see how important the sacred writings are for us. They enable us to follow the true shepherd and not follow the hireling. The hireling is in it for the money. It is his job. If a wolf attacks a flock, a hireling – with no deep love of the sheep – will not risk his life for the sheep.
Verses applying to the sheep:
John 15:9-14 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love. (10) If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (11) These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full. (12) “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. (13) Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. (14) You are my friends if you do what I command you.
Verses applying to the hireling:
John 8:42-47 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me. (43) Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. (44) You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. (45) But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. (46) Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? (47) Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”