Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The focus here is not so much upon what the gate is – whether it be the heart or the mind or the soul. Rather, the attention is upon the visibility of the gate. The people see the gate, the sheep see the gate, as do the shepherd, the thieves and the robbers. It’s different than the fence. Perhaps it has a mark or is of a different shape to show that this is the way one enters as opposed to the fence.
The thieves and robbers steer away from that sort of visibility. They do not want to be seen entering, they want to get close to the sheep by their own means and through their own methods.
There is a warning for sheep here: do not trust someone within the pen merely because they are inside and close. You must also know how they entered. Likewise, a person entering your life, a relationship entering your heart, or a mode of thinking entering your mind – these cannot be trusted solely on the basis that they are present or familiar. How you arrive at a conclusion, a destination or a feeling is as important as the particular itself. The things that attempt to sneak into your life are more often then not there to steal kill and destroy. But the ones who enter through the gate, the ones who make themselves visible, are not ashamed of their purposes and usually desire good for the sheep.
In this verse it is the shepherd who makes himself visible. He does not sneak in. His purposes for the sheep are good and they take comfort in seeing him.
Although it seems like God is far away at times, he does not hide himself. And although his will seems mysterious, it is not a secret. A sheep cannot understand the mind of its human shepherd. It may wonder why didn’t we go graze in that field today or why do we take this route to the water? Neither can we fully understand his ways. He protects us from dangers we cannot imagine and prepares us for difficulties we have not even considered.
He is the visible shepherd. Unashamed of his purposes and jealous to be near his sheep.