The Voice of the Shepherd

But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.

From John 10:1-18
To appreciate what Jesus is teaching here it helps to know a little bit about the life of first-century sheep and shepherds. Most Jewish families who lived in small rural villages would own a few sheep that they would keep in walled courtyards connected to their house. Each morning the local shepherd would go from house to house to take the sheep out into the open pasture to graze. The doorkeeper of each house knew the shepherd, and so they would open the door to the courtyard to allow the shepherd to call out the sheep. The sheep in each courtyard knew the voice of the shepherd, and so they would come and follow the shepherd wherever he would lead them. This relationship between the sheep and the shepherd is a beautiful picture of what the relationship between a disciple and their Master should look like.

I love the simplicity of this lesson on our discipleship to Jesus. Sometimes we can feel confused by the things that Jesus teaches or we can find ourselves over-analyzing them to the point that we lose sight of what he’s really saying. This teaching is simple.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd, and we as his disciples are his sheep. He is the one who calls us, goes before us and leads us, and it is our responsibility to simply hear his voice and follow him wherever he leads.

What if I stripped my Christianity all the way down to this basic way of life?

What if I devoted my entire life to these two simple things?

1. Hearing the voice of Jesus
2. Following him wherever he leads me

We spend so much of our time, energy and headspace on doing so many good things, but what if all of our Christian-busyness is actually causing some of us to miss the most basic thing — hearing Jesus’ voice and following him wherever he leads?

There is so much noise in our daily lives today.

Are me and you able to hear the voice of our Shepherd?

Admittedly, I have been a follower of Jesus for over twelve years, and I feel like I’ve spent a large majority of that time unsure of what it means to actually hear his voice.  

Over time, I have learned that our Shepherd doesn’t get in a shouting match with all the other noise in our life. He doesn’t force himself into our fast-paced lives to demand that we focus on him. Jesus doesn’t walk through the door of our lives and drive us out with a whip.

Instead, he stands at the door and gently calls us by name. He invites us on a daily journey to green pastures and still waters, but again, it’s an invitation. We must recognize his voice and respond by following him wherever he leads us.

I like the fact that the local shepherd would go house to house each morning to call the sheep. I think this is a good metaphor for devoting ourselves to the spiritual practice known as the Morning Quiet Time.

What if we woke up each morning and entered into a place of stillness and silence where we listened for the voice of our Shepherd? What if we then left that place following Jesus wherever he led us that day? And what if this process was repeated daily to the point where we began to recognize Jesus’ voice more clearly, and we began to trust his shepherding more deeply?

I want to hear and know the voice of my Creator and King.

I want to trust him and follow him wherever he leads me.

But I recognize that I won’t if my life is full of busyness and noise.