The Shepherd’s Voice
There is something powerful about the sound of a familiar voice. At a wedding recently, my wife and I were catching up with a friend from high school who had just had a baby 3 months ago. The little baby was very alert and my wife and I smiled and talked in that high-pitched babyspeak that we default to anytime we talk to an infant or animal. She was giving us half-smiles, but when her mother spoke it all changed; she turned her head to her mother’s voice and her face lit up like nothing my wife and I could draw out. She knew her mother’s voice and it brought a happiness and joy to her that no one else’s voice ever will. In chapter 10 of John’s Gospel, Jesus uses an illustration to describe how His followers will recognize His voice.
“‘I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.’” (John 10:1-5)
“All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them.” (John 10:8)
“‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.’” (John 10:27)
Just like a child to a mother, true followers of Jesus recognize His voice. This is so important because as Paul warns in 2 Timothy, “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” (2 Timothy 4:3-4)
These are the people Jesus warned about, the strangers who wish to steal and rob. But as Jesus tells it, true followers won’t listen. So the question is thrown to us: are we going to listen to whatever our itching ears want to hear? Are we going to reject truth and chase after myths? Or are we going to follow John’s advice in 1 John 2?
“So you must remain faithful to what you have been taught from the beginning. If you do, you will remain in fellowship with the Son and with the Father. (…) I am writing these things to warn you about those who want to lead you astray. But you have received the Holy Spirit, and he lives within you, so you don’t need anyone to teach you what is true. For the Spirit teaches you everything you need to know, and what he teaches is true—it is not a lie. So just as he has taught you, remain in fellowship with Christ.” (1 John 2:26-27)
“But when the Father sends the Advocate as my representative—that is, the Holy Spirit—he will teach you everything and will remind you of everything I have told you.” (John 14:26)
We are indeed living in times where people wish to lead us astray, and the supply is great because the demand is great. We read more books ABOUT the Bible than the Bible itself. We can become followers of people and the ideas they spew out, when these are the very things Jesus, John, and Paul warned against.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)
The Lord God warns us to not depend on our own understanding. Why? Because we can be wrong. We are flawed and fallen people and we can get it so wrong. Rely on the Holy Spirit to speak as you read through the Scriptures, as you listen to sermons, as you hear statements or arguments or ideas that claim to be based on Truth. Weigh every claim against what the Scriptures say because we are called to not only love the Lord our God with all of our heart and soul, but all of our mind as well. Listen to your Shepherd’s voice and trust Him above all others.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.