“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice. St John 10:1-5
Some years ago, we went to the airport to pick up a visitor to our home. As he exited the terminal, we shouted his name. Some young men decided who we did not know decided to have some harmless fun, and they started shouting the name of our visitor as well. Naturally, he became somewhat confused as he looked around trying to find out where to go. He knew his name quite well, but the voices that called to him were foreign and unknown. Thankfully, Jesus does not get thrown off this way at all.
In St. John 10, Jesus was speaking with the Pharisees about who He is, and how He is able to care for those who are His. He uses the picture of a shepherd gathering His sheep, and highlights the fact that His sheep will run from other shepherds. He also speaks of thieves and robbers who will attempt to get at His sheep., but reinforces in verse 27 that His sheep know His voice, will listen to His voice and will follow Him. Isaiah 43:1 underscores the face that we are redeemed and called by His name – We are His! Let us look at some examples of what can happen when we listen and respond to His call.
- In St. Mark 5, Jesus was on His way to meet Jairus’ daughter, when He was ‘side-tracked’ by a woman experiencing hemorrhaging. Initially, she did not speak to Him, and did not call out His name, but when she touched Him, He stopped and acknowledged her when she came forward. He could have continued walking since He knew full well who had touched her and why, but He chose to call her out and speak healing to her in the crowd. She heard His voice and responded, and her life was changed forever. (Mark 5: 21-34)
- Jesus eventually made His way to Jairus’ house, where He found the child ‘asleep’. The crowd at Jairus’ house did not understand His mission, and they ridiculed and laughed. “…After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around ….” ( v 35-43). This child had likely never heard His voice before, but in that moment, a connection was made, and her spirit responded to The Life. His voice made the difference in her circumstance. He called out to her; she heard His voice and experienced new life.
- A three-way conversation took place close to the end of Jesus’ physical life on earth. On the cross, a thief dying the death he deserved, rebuked his unbelieving counterpart and reached out to Jesus. He received hope and a promise that day, but unfortunately, the other thief didn’t come to the point where He understood the difference Jesus could make in his circumstances. They both heard His voice, but only one chose eternal life. (St Luke 23:26-43)
- At Jacob’s well, Jesus took the time to approach a woman many rejected. According to verse 8, “His disciples had gone into the town to buy food”. As far as we know, there was no one else around, so she had the opportunity to share firsthand how He had made a difference in her life. To some, she was a ‘nobody’, but to Him, she was a life in need of healing. He called out to her, she heard his voice and responded, and her life was never the same again. (St John 4:1-42)
The Jesus in the Bible is the Jesus in our lives today. He has not changed! He stopped long enough to restore health to a bleeding woman, bring life to a dead child, bestow dignity to a woman scorned, and deliver peace to a man facing a hopeless future. Our issues may range from the physical to the spiritual and everything in between, but because we are significant to Him, He makes Himself available. He may call to us in a crowd, or He may seek us out in our lonely moments; He may pull us into His inner circle, or He may speak His truth to us in the face of those who chose not to believe. We are not defined by what has happened in our past, or by how others view our former state. We know He is the Good Shepherd, and that we know His voice and He knows our name! When we choose to consider ourselves significant in His eyes, we will live as though we have experienced His life-changing truth.
Inventory/Introspection: Many voices call at me on a daily basis. How do I distinguish His voice from all that is around me?
Personal Application: Jesus has redeemed me. He has called me by name. I am significant to Him!
Father, we are so grateful that we are not foreigners or strangers, and that You know us inside and outside!
May we be in a place where we will hear Jesus’ and respond to His calling, whether we are in a crow, in the‘inner circle’, in a ‘two or three’ setting, or on our own. Like the woman at the well, we are often trapped in how others define us. Like the woman with the bleeding, we sometimes feel pushed aside and ignored. Like Jairus’ daughter, our situations can become too much for us to handle. Like the thief on the cross, we may experience deliverance at the end of our rope. Whatever our circumstances, we are thankful that You never leave us alone, and that we know Your voice, and You know us by name!
I recognize that all I am is because of Your mercy and grace. I want to live a life that reflects You. There is so much going on around me and so many voices that call to me daily, but I resolve to only heed Your voice. I am determined to experience Life as You intend it. Please grant me the desires of my heart to the glory of Your name.
Except where indicated, Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
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