Do You Know His Voice?
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Read John 10:1-6 (ESV)
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hears his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
How can we recognize the voice of God?
When babies are born, they recognize their parents’ voices immediately, especially mom’s. They have spent so much time hearing her voice in the womb that when she speaks, they turn their heads to the sound of her voice. They perk up and listen. Oftentimes, mom and dad’s voices are able to soothe and comfort them.
But dropping babies off at a sitter can result in tears. Many of them recognize when mom and dad are not around. Go to any church nursery on a Sunday morning and you know this is true. There will be at least one crying baby at drop-off time! Watch for the toddler who wraps his or her arms around his parent’s leg and refuses to let go. In today’s passage, Jesus used a different illustration to explain that those who are truly His disciples will only follow Him. Jesus called Himself “the shepherd.”
Now, it’s helpful to know a little bit about how sheep were herded in the Middle East at this time. During the day, the shepherds led their flocks out to pasture. But when evening came, the shepherds would call out to their own sheep and gather them into the fold which only had one way in or out. Often, a gatekeeper was hired for the night watch. He’d lay down in front of that gate and if anyone wanted to harm the sheep, they either had to get through him or hop over the side. The gatekeeper wouldn’t open the gate for a stranger and a thief wouldn’t be able to coax the sheep away, he’d have to steal them. Even if he got access to the sheep, they wouldn’t follow a stranger’s voice. In fact, Jesus said that they’d flee from it!
Jesus was explaining a spiritual truth using everyday imagery to illustrate His point. But John tells us that His listeners didn’t really get it. For us to fully understand it, it is helpful if we review the context. Remember that leaders of the synagogue had just excommunicated the blind beggar that Jesus healed. The leaders of the synagogue were supposed to minister to the spiritual needs of the people. But these leaders didn’t express any concern for this man. Instead, they cast the man out. They proved themselves to be poor (and false) spiritual shepherds of the people.
But Jesus identified Himself as the True Shepherd. His own sheep can be easily identified because they know and follow His voice. Even if they are intermingled with other flocks, when Jesus speaks, His sheep follow Him. When they hear a stranger’s voice, they should flee and only listen for their shepherd.
What about you? Are you one of the True Shepherd’s sheep? One way to tell is if you can recognize His voice. Now, I don’t necessarily mean His audible voice. But can you tell if a message is from Him or are you easily led astray by false teaching?
Friends, we have to know the voice of our True Shepherd. To do that, we have to go back to the Bible. When we read it, listen to it, and engage with it, God’s Word becomes familiar to us. We will come to know the voice of our True Shepherd who cares for us and leads us in the right direction. Do you know His voice?
Lord, thank You for being my shepherd. You are my leader and my protector. Help me to grow in my ability to discern Your voice from all of the voices intermingling around me. Keep me safely in Your fold. Amen.
Reveal: Is there a false spiritual shepherd threatening some sheep in your life? How can you help them learn to follow only the True Shepherd?
~ Pastor Nat Crawford