In our last post, we explored some of what it means in John 10 that Christ is the Good Shepherd and we are His sheep. We looked at some traits we have in common with sheep and what they teach us about our relationship with the Lord.
There are a couple of other comparisons with our woolly friends we should be able to admit to. In addition to being easily distracted and agitated,
we are continually bleating about something, aren’t we? And then there is the fact that sheep cannot rescue themselves. If they fall on their backs, they literally cannot get up without help. In a similar way, we also often end up stuck in some aspect of our lives, incapable of getting ourselves upright and back on track.
Today I want to look at another aspect of the relationship between a shepherd and his sheep mentioned in John 10 that should be of great comfort and strength to us.
I was in the Middle East not too long ago, and I heard a wonderful story that illustrates this aspect. A South African man had recently moved to the area. He was a stock farmer and had numerous sheep. As he looked out upon his flock one morning, he noticed that many of his sheep were missing. He immediately suspected a nearby group of nomads and went to their camp to explain that he believed that they had his animals. Of course, they assured him that they did not; but he insisted they had and said he could prove it! He walked toward the milling herd and began to call out in his native language of Afrikaans. Immediately a large group of animals separated from the flock and came over to him! You see, they knew his voice!
In John 10:27 Jesus said, ’My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me!’” (John 10:27) Sheep will follow the voice they are familiar with, the voice that has meant safety and provision and healing for them. And the same is true for us and our Good Shepherd. As we spend time in His presence, He speaks to us so that we might learn to recognize His voice over all the noise around us. And He assures us that we will learn to recognize His voice more and more.
It’s interesting to me that Jesus says He will lead His sheep and that they will follow Him. When people in the west think about getting sheep from one place to another, they imagine a scene in which the shepherd is driving the sheep before him—perhaps with a dog nipping at their heels to keep them together and hurry them along. But in the east, where Jesus lived, it was customary for shepherds to walk out ahead of their sheep. The sheep would then choose to follow the shepherd out of trust. Jesus leads us—He doesn’t drive us. As we choose to follow Him, we will not only have His protection, but He will guide us into what He knows is best for us. And should we stray, He promises to look for us. In fact, in the Parable of the Lost Sheep in Luke 15, He says that He will not only look for us, He will find us and joyfully carry us home on His shoulders.
I don’t know if you are familiar with the sound of Christ’s voice yet; but I can assure you that if you spend time getting to know Him in His Word and in prayer, you will begin to recognize when He speaks to you. If you have wandered from Him, turn your face toward home, cry out and ask Him to rescue you. He will hear you, and He will find you; for He is the Good Shepherd who promises to lead you and will never leave you nor forsake you.
Blessings on your day!