John 10:1-6

“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.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

This passage continues the discourse that began in chapter 9, where the central theme was spiritual blindness and sight. Here, Jesus shifts the focus to the realm of hearing and following, emphasizing not just the ability to *see* the truth but also to discern and respond to it. He does this by talking about the relationship between the shepherd and his flock and how the sheep listen to the shepherd's voice.

I got a live demonstration of this during a visit to the Holy Land a few years ago. Our guide stopped the tour bus during the trip and made us disembark near a meadow. The meadow was filled with hundreds of sheep grazing while a shepherd watched them from a distance. Our guide told us to call out to the sheep and see if we could draw their attention. 

Forty of us did everything we could think of, but other than a few sheep who looked up at us with disdain, not one of them moved an inch. Then the shepherd said something and walked away. As one, the sheep stopped grazing and followed him. 

It was a powerful demonstration of the shepherd's voice and relationship with his sheep. The sheep in his care could discern his voice amidst a cacophony of other voices and follow only him. This was because of an intimate relationship built on trust and familiarity between the shepherd and his sheep. He knew them, and they knew him.

Jesus contrasts this image of the good shepherd with that of thieves and robbers. It was likely a veiled critique of the religious leaders of his time. Unlike the shepherd, who leads with love and integrity, these leaders were seen as those who mislead and mistreat their flock.

The lesson is as valid to us today as it was then. In a world filled with competing voices and philosophies, we must be able to discern the voice of the true shepherd—Jesus. This discernment comes not from a superficial acquaintance but from a deep, trusting relationship cultivated through time spent in his presence and in his word.

So we must ask ourselves: Do we recognize the voice of Jesus amidst the clamor? Are we following the true shepherd, or are we being led astray by the babble of modern-day 'shepherds'? To truly know his voice, we must immerse ourselves in the scriptures and in prayer, fostering an intimacy with Christ that enables us to follow him with confidence.

God bless you.  

More in this category: « John 9:35-41 John 10:7-9 »
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