Yesterday I posted about the danger of listening to the voice of the stranger. There is little doubt in my mind that all of this talk about the voice of the stranger was a veiled reference to the influence that Satan attempts to have over the lives of Jesus’ sheep. Smart sheep don’t listen to strangers. Neither do they listen to hirelings.
The hired hand was the second voice that Jesus described in his good shepherd discourse. He described the hired hand as one who would be with the sheep during the good times, gladly earning a profit for his interest. But when threats arise the hired hand flees because he is more interested in wages than the sheep.
I’ve always taken a strong stand against televangelists who do the same thing. These ministry profiteers promise prayers and miracles across airwaves in exchange for your generous donation. They incite the viewing sheep with fear mongering regarding government and the soon to come apocalypse in order to keep their listeners connected. They claim to have special insights into the world affairs and positive proof of the President’s real religious affiliation. “Stay tuned” and “keep those cards and letters coming” seem to be the ongoing mantra. These charlatans are like the hired hands in John 10, promising much, delivering little, all the while enhancing their own lifestyles with little or no accountability.
I think the hired hands Jesus referred to in the first century were the Pharisees. The Pharisees of second Temple Judaism were the televangelists of the day, lording their persuasive power over the poor and marginalized, manipulating them for personal profit. They conveyed an image of piety yet were rotten to the core. The bottom line was that they didn’t care one bit about those first century sheep. They were in it for cash. Jesus discouraged his listeners from paying attention to the voice of the stranger, and interestingly enough, placed these religious charlatans in the same category.
That leaves us with the voice of the good shepherd. How do we know how to identify this true voice? Check in tomorrow and I’ll share a few characteristics of the voice of the good shepherd.