27 My sheep listen to my voice. I know them and they follow me.
The Shepherd narrative in John was very familiar to the audience listening to Jesus, as they would have seen or experienced exactly what Jesus was saying about sheep. We’re more removed from the behavior of shepherds and sheep, but it’s true that sheep only come when their shepherd calls, and not when a stranger tries to call them. You can watch fun videos of people calling sheep, and the sheep don’t move. When their shepherd calls them, they look in the direction of the voice and the flock heads right to the shepherd and follows them across the pasture.
Turns out sheep aren’t as dumb as we’ve been told. They recognize the calling of their shepherd’s voice when they hear it, and they follow that voice. Even though there are many voices out there trying to lure them away from the shepherd, they only follow their shepherd’s voice because they trust the shepherd who provides direction, good things and safety.
How can the sheep discern their shepherd’s voice among so many other voices? The sheep stay alert and they are always listening for their shepherd’s voice. The sheep have built a relationship of trust and dependency with their shepherd for their survival. Their shepherd doesn’t let the sheep down, each day the shepherd guides them to pasture, water and rest so the sheep can grow and thrive. Jesus does the same for us every day.
In this story, Jesus identifies as our good shepherd and believers as the sheep who need guidance and protection. Unlike the leaders, who are bad shepherds to their flocks, Jesus was willing to give His life for us, the sheep. Jesus knows the sheep by name, every single one of us. We are known by our shepherd deeply, known and understood to the core of our beings. We can entrust our very souls to Jesus who doesn’t let us down. Jesus died for us so we could have eternal life. And every day, Jesus calls to us, guides us, nourishes our souls and leads us to eternal safety. Because Jesus loves us and cares for us, we listen and follow our good shepherd.
By Jeneene Reduker
For Pondering & Prayer
We are Christ’s sheep, who are always listening for our shepherd Jesus’ voice, to discern Christ’s voice among all the voices calling to us, that are trying to lead us astray each day. We are Jesus’ sheep, who are fully known and fully loved by our good shepherd. We are Jesus’ sheep, who follow our good shepherd. Today, take time to listen for God’s voice. Take time and know you are loved and known by Jesus. Today follow your good shepherd, Jesus.
Prayer: Jesus, you are the good shepherd and we are your sheep. Help us always to be alert to hear your voice, to know we are known and loved by you and to faithfully follow you everyday. Amen.