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.
Yesterday’s passage introduced Jesus as the Door, the only way to salvation. Today, He is the Good Shepherd.
The metaphor of the shepherd was familiar to the Israelites, perhaps with the exception that it was an unusual shepherd who was actually willing to die for his sheep. He may battle an animal to protect the sheep, but to willingly die for the sheep was not common.
I like this quote from Spurgeon: “He is giving His life still. The life that is in the Man Christ Jesus He is always giving for us. It is for us He lives, and because He lives we live also. He lives to plead for us. He lives to represent us in heaven. He lives to rule providence for us.” (Spurgeon)
The hireling has no investment in the sheep. He makes his living by keeping an eye on them, but he is not willing to risk his life to save them. They are not his. In his mind, they exist for his benefit, to give him a job and the money he needs to feed himself and his family. There is no emotional connection between him and the flock.
He sees the wolf (the thief, robber, murderer) coming, but he does not prepare to defend the flock. Instead, he runs to protect himself, and leaves the flock to the depredations of the wolf.
So who is the wolf in this metaphor? He is Satan, the father of lies; the thief, the robber, who sneaks in to destroy the sheep. The hireling is a faithless shepherd because he will not protect the sheep from the great evil that threatens them.
And the sheep are too stupid to recognize the danger until it is in their midst and blood has already been shed.