The Voice of the Good Shepherd Leads to Life // John 10:9-10
The number of voices calling out to us in life is deafening. Facebook, Instagram, email, Twitter, news feeds, blogs, vlogs, YouTube and more are 24/7 communicating information to us. We literally have to "un-plug" to get away from it all. In the midst of all this noise God is calling out to us in a gentle voice. With so many messages bombarding us, it's easy to allow it all to become white noise, causing us to becoming numb. The Christian must work to intentionally tune into the voice of God.
In the Gospel of John, Chapter 10 and verses 1-16, John records Jesus' teaching. Using the analogies of sheep, shepherds and hirelings (or thieves) Jesus creates a comparison between the hireling and Himself as the Good Shepherd. It all begins with Jesus likening Himself as the door to the sheep pen—there's only one way in. He states, I am the door; enter in and receive salvation, freedom and good pasture. In verses 10 and following, He calls Himself the Good Shepherd, who comes not to steal and destroy (like the thief and hirelings), but to give abundant life to His sheep. Abundant and overflowing life are found in following the Good Shepherd.
Looking at verses 1-16 of Chapter 10
Jesus is the way to salvation—the forgiveness of sins and eternal life and so much more! Salvation carries with it connection to the Father, redeemed life and purpose. There is freedom in Christ. Some might scoff and retort that Christianity is a legal system that locks one down, but rather, it frees one from the power of sin, wresting us free from the bondage of habitual sin and it's associated shame. The Christian is to follow the Good Shepherd and this means denying self and living for others, forgiving, serving and loving without strings attached. The Good Shepherd leads to pastures of healing, nourishment and the fulfillment of what it truly means to be human (a reflection of God our Creator). The abundant life means real purpose and authentic relationships both with God and other people. The abundant life is not to be confused with an easy life.
Jesus, The Good Shepherd, leads to life today. By listening to and following the voice of the Good Shepherd, we are led to life here and now. Through actively living out obedience to Him we express grace, love, hope, forgiveness and mercy toward others. We can make our families, work places, schools and community better places by simply following the Good Shepherd's leading.
How does one hear the voice of the Good Shepherd in order to follow Him? As mentioned before, the abundant life is not to be confused with an easy one. It takes training, time and energy to hear the Good Shepherd's Voice.
- Read God's Word, take time to read and meditate on God's Word. It can be as simple as using the Daily Bread or listening to Scripture being read. The important thing is to take the time and be in contact with God's Word in a meaningful way. Whether it's one verse or an entire chapter—read until God prompts you to stop and contemplate a word or phrase. Anticipate dry spells but press on. People for centuries have written about dry spells often referring to them as dark nights of the soul. The reality is: it will require an effort. What relationship in life doesn't?
- Pray with God. Speak to God from your heart. Sometimes this involves sitting still or quietly walking and allowing yourself to focus on God—His goodness and grace. You can listen to Christian music and enjoy calming your mind—detoxing yourself from all the other voices that are demanding your attention.
- Act on what you are reading and hearing from God. When God prompts us, it's easy to rationalize it away and say we'll do it another day. Talk is cheap. We can say we're Christ followers, Christians or love God; however, if we're not actually doing what He is prompting us to do—are we really His followers; are we really listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd?
Verse 16: A closing thought
Every now and then, God reaches through time and the pages of His Word to touch us. In Verse 16, Jesus says, "I have other sheep, which are not of this fold (near context is Jews); I must bring them (Gentiles) also, and they shall hear my voice; and they shall become one flock (Jews and Gentiles) with one Shepherd." I believe Jesus is alluding to the church and the folding in of the gentiles, fulfilling the blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant, into the family of Israel creating one new family of God. This is what the Apostle Paul refers to as the of the church in his letter to the Ephesians. When Jesus was referring to other sheep, he was referring to you and me. He was referring to those who would comprise the church in time to come and be under one Shepherd; the Good Shepherd. Jesus was talking about you (Christians). Are you listening to the voice of the Good Shepherd? He wants to lead you to life.
What will you do? Will you train your spiritual ears to hear the Good Shepherd and follow Him? As parents and grandparents—we want our kids to know the voice of the Good Shepherd and we train them to recognize His voice. The Christian season of Lent is upon us, starting Feb 14, 2018. This season takes us through 40 days right up to Good Friday. Would you commit to training or sharpening your focus to hearing the Good Shepherd by reading His Word, prayer and acting on His leading for the 40 days of Lent? I hope you will. Include in your prayers, "God show me Yourself in new and powerful ways these next 40 days."