My Sheep Listen to My Voice
In the Gospel of John, Jesus likens His relationship to us to the relationship between a shepherd and His sheep. He is our Good Shepherd: “I am the Good Shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me." (John 10:14 NIV)
He is our Protector: “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the Shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it." (John 10:11-12 NIV) Jesus lays down His life for His sheep. He does not run away like a hired hand if a predator threatens His flock. We are His own sheep, and He loves us.
He is our Uniter: "I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one Shepherd." (John 10:16 NIV) He has other sheep that are not in our sheep pen. He has sheep in other congregations and other denominations. And because we all follow the same Shepherd, we are united in Him.
His is the Voice we listen to: "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me." (John 10:27 NIV) This verse speaks of our intimacy with Jesus. He knows us. We listen to His voice and follow Him.
Sheep were often kept in communal flocks in the first century. In many places they still are today. Each shepherd called his or her own sheep with a call. This was not like, "Here, sheep, sheep, sheep." It was a unique call each shepherd made to their own sheep. Think of the shrill, rapid "la-la-la-la-la-la" you see in a movie when a group is celebrating a victory in battle. The sheep know the sound of their Shepherd's voice, and they come when He calls.
To know the still, small voice we sometimes hear is the voice of Jesus, we must know Him and His voice as distinct from the voices of our own heads or of the culture around us or even of the enemy of our soul. And I think we all know by our experience the amazing capability we have to distinguish the voices of those we love.
The family is gathered for Thanksgiving. In the family room, the cousins are all playing together. One of them calls, "Mom!" in a voice that sounds like distress. That child's mother hears that voice in the next room in spite of the sounds of the grown-ups playing a board game at the kitchen table and distinguishes it from the voices of the other 12 cousins. A mother knows the voice of her child.
You are called to the phone at work without knowing who is on the other line. One word from your spouse and you know who it is. You have heard that voice day after day for years, and no one has to tell you it's your beloved.
My sheep listen to my voice. With intimacy, we recognize Jesus among the voices. Life-changing faith in Jesus Christ begins with intimacy. The more we know Christ, the more we recognize His voice and follow Him. The more time we spend in prayer and the more times we follow the promptings of His voice, the more intimate we become with Him.
This intimate knowing of Jesus as a living reality in our lives goes far beyond reading about Him in the Bible. It goes far beyond believing in the facts of His birth, life, death and resurrection. It is a relationship. We know our Shepherd, and we listen to His voice and follow Him.
Our church's mission is to Make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. In order to fulfill that mission, we have adopted this vision: Know Christ, Grow Faith, Go Witness." The vision begins with knowing Christ.
We want to know Christ. Not just to know about Him, but to know Him. We want to have an intimate relationship with our Shepherd. We want to know Him well enough to know His voice and follow Him. And we want others to Know Christ. We want to know we, as individuals, are His. And we want to know that we all, as His Church, are His. We want those who do not yet know Him to come to know Him.
My sheep listen to my voice. How is the intimacy you experience between your heart and the heart of your Shepherd? What might you do today to move closer and know Him more intimately so that you recognize and listen to His voice, and follow Him?