It May Not Be Who You Think

Written by Rhonda Alstott

In the gospel of John, chapter ten verse ten, Jesus makes a defining statement about why He came, contrasting himself with a thief…

“The thief comes only to steal, kill and destroy.  I came that they may have life, and have it more abundantly.”


For decades now, I have been taught by various pastors and teachers, that the thief in this verse is Satan.  I understand why one may think this. In 1 Peter 5:8, Peter calls Satan our adversary and tells us he is prowling around seeking someone to devour, but in the context of John 10:10, I believe Jesus is referring to the religious leaders known as the Pharisees. John Chapter 9 tells us of the miraculous healing Jesus gave to a man who had been blind since birth. Before healing this man, the disciples had asked him who had sinned to cause this man’s blindness: the man or his parents. Jesus responded neither, challenging the common assumption taught in Judaism that suffering was the result of sin.  Jesus told his disciples that the man was born blind so that “the works of God might be displayed in him”. What a contrast to the accepted religious teaching of the day!


When the Pharisees were given the opportunity to praise God for the healing of this man’s sight, they did not.  They appear to be more concerned that Jesus healed this man on the Sabbath, thus breaking the law. We are told he is questioned twice and his parents are even questioned. We learn his parents are not truthful in their response because anyone professing Jesus as the Christ (Messiah), would be kicked out of the synagogue. The newly sighted man professed Christ. The Pharisees responded, “You were born in utter sin” and they cast the man out of the synagogue…what a way to respond to the miraculous works of God by the very people who had the responsibility of representing God and teaching them about God.


Jesus responds by telling everyone that He is the good shepherd.  He says in John 10:9, “All who came before me are thieves and robbers….I am the door…..Jesus is showing to the crowd, that he is the Christ, and following Him leads to life. John 10:1-18, is known as the shepherd’s discourse. Jesus uses 3 parables about a shepherd to contrast himself with a thief. I believe Jesus is doing this because he has just witnessed the mistreatment of one of the sheep at the hands of the Pharisees. The religious leaders, or the Pharisees, have come to steal, kill and destroy, but Jesus came to give life…and an abundant life at that. No scarcity mentality in Jesus… He wants us to have a life in him that’s full.  He does this by taking us out of our spiritual blindness and giving us His spiritual sight. The gift of light he brings to our darkness is what makes our lives different. 


May we, having seen the light, take the light into our world that is so full of darkness. May we be His witness and contrast to those who are seeking to kill, steal and destroy.

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