My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27 (NLT)
To help His followers recognize and respond to His voice, Jesus used a common illustration they could identify with easily. He spoke of Himself as the Shepherd and His followers as sheep. Shepherds in Jesus’ day understood the unique relationship a shepherd had with his own sheep. Although not many of us – if any – are shepherds, Jesus uses this connection to help us recognize His voice when He speaks to us today. One of the amazing characteristics of sheep is their ability to distinguish the voice of their shepherd from any other voice. They not only recognize their shepherd’s voice but they will also respond to that voice. I love the way The Message paraphrases what Jesus told His followers in John 10.
Let me set this before you as plainly as I can. If a person climbs over or through the fence of a sheep pen instead of going through the gate, you know he’s up to no good—a sheep rustler! The shepherd walks right up to the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate to him and the sheep recognize his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he gets them all out, he leads them and they follow because they are familiar with his voice. They won’t follow a stranger’s voice but will scatter because they aren’t used to the sound of it. John 10:1-5 (MSG)
What is it about the shepherd’s voice that is so unique and characteristic to the sheep? As His sheep, Christ followers today can learn to recognize the Shepherd’s voice. His voice has three distinguishing characteristics:
- Our Shepherd’s voice is persistent. Never insistent, loud, bullish, or demanding, our Shepherd speaks in a gentle whisper. Unlike our enemy, whose voice is threatening and accusing, the persistent and compassionate voice of our Shepherd draws us to Him. He doesn’t push the sheep; He calls them. He leads us, and we follow Him. He knocks on the door of our hearts when He calls us. He doesn’t knock the door down! He waits for us to respond. Jesus said the shepherd comes to the gate and calls. The sheep hear his voice and they follow him. His love will never let us go! His voice is persistent. When you hear His voice, don’t harden your heart. Learn to respond, as the sheep would, and follow Him. He will lead you into green pastures! What more could sheep want? He knows what is best for us and has our best interests at heart because He loves us. We may not understand it all, but we can trust the persistent voice of our Shepherd.
- Our Shepherd’s voice is personal. Jesus said He calls His own sheep by name. Jesus knows your name! He calls you personally and individually to follow Him. He desires an intimate and personal relationship with you! Not only does He call us by name but He goes on to say that He leads us. God still guides! He wants to direct your path. Listen for the personal voice of your Shepherd call you by name and follow where He leads you. David said, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He leads me…” (Ps. 23:1-2)
- Our Shepherd’s voice is powerful. His voice is powerful because it is the voice of truth! Jesus said, “I am the way the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” (John 14:6) In contrast, Satan’s voice is the voice of lies. In John 8:44, Jesus said, “… when he (Satan) lies, he speaks his native language for, he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Whose voice are you listening to? Ask your shepherd to speak to you today and listen for His voice. What is He saying to you?