“When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:4 (NIV)
It is God’s desire to speak to His children. As we’ve discussed, God speaks in a number of ways. In the past, He spoke through the prophets. In our lives, God speaks through circumstances, including closed doors and even in His silence.
Hebrew 1:2 states that: “God has spoken to us in these last days through His Son Jesus Christ”. Jesus’ incarnation became the anointed vehicle by which God would reveal not only His plan of salvation but also Who He was. In His teachings, Jesus would disclose to believers that God not only listens to their cry but also speaks to them through both their expressed and unspoken needs. We complete this series, When God Speaks, by focusing on the believer’s need to listen for God voice as Jesus teaches about the “Good Shepherd”.
In John 10, Jesus launches a scathing charge against the religious leaders of that day. Instead of caring for the people, like a true shepherd, they would perpetrate theft and abuse against the most vulnerable of the community. They are described in this illustration as thieves, robbers (John 10:1) and hirelings (John 10:1; 12, 13). Jesus uses this familiar occupation to illustrate to His disciples, and us, an important fact about followers of Christ—they know His voice.
Followers of Christ know His voice. He “calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3). To call His sheep by name infers a personal relationship with the Good Shepherd. As He approaches, the sheep “hear His voice” and prepare to respond to His lead. We must be prepared to hear Jesus’ voice as we move through the busyness of our daily lives. These activities, though necessary, often deprive us of important time to receive God’s guidance and instruction for the “sheep of His pasture” (Ps. 100:3).
Followers of Christ know His voice. They know His voice through experiencing His love. He first loved us (1 John 4:19) and gave himself as a ransom for all men (1Tim. 2:6). The hireling doesn’t care about the sheep—he flees when trouble (the wolf) draws near. God demonstrated his love for us in that while we were still sinners, He died for us (Rom. 5:8).
Followers of Christ know His voice. They do not know a stranger’s voice (John 10:4, 5) and therefore, will not follow them. The voice of the stranger represents the world and its trappings. The stranger attempts to lure followers of Christ away from the safety and the will of the Good Shepherd. However, even if the sheep goes astray, they can be assured that He will come to find them (Luke 15:4-6).
The Good Shepherd still calls out today. It is up to each of His “sheep” to listen for His voice. This can be accomplished by reading His Word and spending time in prayer and meditation. The 23rd Psalm is the most familiar and most popular of the Psalms; this is because of the reassurance and comfort individuals receive while reading it. Jesus’ presence as the Good Shepherd promises provision, rest and restoration, and protection (Ps. 23:4). Take a spiritual break and read the 23rd Psalm. Listen for His voice—He’s calling your name.
SELAH: Read the 23rd Psalm and visualize yourself as an actual sheep in God’s flock. Write down the things God says to you as a result of doing this exercise.