Reading: John 10: 1-7
Verses 3 and 4: …the sheep listen to his voice… his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
In a devotional I read, there is a story about sheep following their shepherd. As the writer sat and observed, a real shepherd walked along a very narrow and dangerous path along a steep ridge. One after another, several dozen sheep dutifully followed along the path. One after another they walked along a path that none would have taken on their own.
This little snippet reveals much about the typical shepherd-sheep relationship. First, the shepherd was willing to lead his flock through dangerous placed because he knew greener pastures lay ahead. Second, the sheep knew and trusted the shepherd. The sheep know their shepherd’s voice and will follow him where he leads. In fact, sheep will run from a voice they do not know. Third, the shepherd cares for his sheep. He is bringing them to a place with good food. He will protect the sheep, both along the journey and once they arrive. He will keep them together and will defend them for wolves, robbers, … He genuinely cares for the sheep.
In our passage, Jesus is using the shepherd-sheep analogy to illustrate our preferred relationship with Him. Jesus wants to be our shepherd. He wants to lead us to “green pastures” – to life in the full. He wants to protect us from the dangers and temptations of the world. He was even willing to lay down His life to do so. For our part, we are the sheep. We need to know His voice. We study His voice in the Bible and we learn to recognize it when the Spirit nudges and whispers to us. We come to be able to differentiate Jesus’ voice from the many voices of the world. These other voices are voices we should run from. Once we come to know Jesus’ voice, He wants us to follow. He will lead us well. For our part this means doing what Jesus did and loving as Jesus loved.
May we know the Good Shepherd’s voice and may we follow where He leads.