John 10:27 "My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me."
Did you know that sheep require more consistent attention and care than any other class of livestock? Sheep do not have sense of direction, so they are easily turned around and become confused and lost (sound familiar?). If they fall down they can't get up on their own and once they fall down if they are left too long, they will die. They are a very needy group of animals and the shepherd knows that sheep cannot be left alone for any extended period of time. Without the presence of a shepherd sheep will become anxious, they will panic, and many times they will cluelessly wander off. Nothing quiets and reassures sheep like the presence of their shepherd calling them by name.
Read John 10:1-6 . This scripture describes a morning shepherding scene. A shepherd enters through a gate into a walled enclosure which has several different flocks in one sheep pen overnight. The enclosure, with stone walls, is guarded at night by a doorkeeper to prevent thieves and carnivores from entering. Often several shepherds used a single “fold” and took turns guarding the entrance or they had one person hired to watch the flocks overnight. Mingling the animals was no problem since each flock responded readily to its own shepherd’s voice. The shepherd had a right to enter the sheep pen because he was the master. The watchman would open the gate, and the shepherd would come in to call his own sheep (which would follow their shepherd’s voice and walk away from the other sheep). The gate is the main entrance.
Jesus explained that anyone who tried to get in any other way besides going through the
gate would be a thief—that person would be up to no good. Shepherds knew their sheep well and gave them names. As sheep hear the sound of their owner’s familiar voice, they go to him, and they follow him out to pasture. The sheep know their master’s voice because he spends so much time with them. Through his presence, sheep become familiar with their shepherd, they recognize him, and they feel safe with his leadership. Wherever he leads they will go because the sheep know the shepherd is worth following. His consistent presence and guidance strengthens the bond between the sheep and the shepherd.
There is no substitute for the presence of our Good Shepherd. Fear and insecurity are quickly dispelled and hope abounds by the presence of our great Good Shepherd. But do you know the Shepherds voice? When he calls you how do you recognize his voice? That recognition comes from training ourselves to hear him when he calls. Sometimes we think we are listening to the right voice when all along it was really a distraction from the Truth.
Listening to the right voice is the key to reaching our destination. There are many voices competing for our attention. These voices may even be disguised. Even if the voices are disguised there is no hiding the fact that these voices are attempting to distract us from the one true voice that guides us on the straight and narrow path. The voice of Jesus, the Good Shepherd is the only voice we should train our ears and heart to hear. The only way to learn His voice is to spend time with Him reading the Bible and in prayer. The more we know God and the more we understand His presence around us, the more we will recognize when He is the one guiding us.
In our busy lives it is hard not to hear many distracting voices. So, even in the noise we must train ourselves to do more than hear the Shepherd’s voice. We must listen to the voice of truth. We must be prepared to run from the voice of strangers.