MY SHEEP LISTEN TO MY VOICE
“Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. The Jews who were there gathered around Him, saying, ‘How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.’ Jesus answered, ‘I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, but you do not believe because you are not my sheep.'” John 10:22-26 NIV.
That’s putting it bluntly!
These Jewish leaders were like a pack of wolves circling around their prey, each one coming in for a bite whenever they got a chance. It was the same thing over and over again. They did not want an opportunity to believe in Him. They were looking for His weak spot; looking for a way to catch Him out so that they could arrest Him on some trumped-up charge and get Him out of their hair.
Jesus was too smart for them. He knew what they were up to and He showed them no vulnerable place in His defences. At the same time, He was not afraid to tell them the truth because it was the truth that would be their judge in the end. Every time they opened their mouths, they exposed what was in their hearts. He knew that they had no intention of believing in Him. It was clear to Him that they were not interested in knowing God. They were too busy protecting their own interests.
“‘My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.'” John 10:27-30 NIV.
Once again, in the middle of this ongoing heated debate between Jesus and His enemies, comes this gem of truth to which we cling as a precious promise of God! What Jesus said here draws a line right down the middle of humanity and even down the middle of those who claim to be His disciples.
What distinguishes a true disciple from one who thinks he is but is not of the flock?
There is an intimate and personal interaction between the Shepherd and His sheep. The sheep listen for and respond to the voice of the Shepherd. How do they know His voice? They recognise it from the instructions He gives to them that reflect His disposition — compassionate, gracious, slow to anger and abounding in love and faithfulness — Exodus 34, 6, 7. They do what He does because it is the way of a disciple.
It is union with Him and a lifestyle that flows from that union that produces real life. A life of selfishness and greed must come to an end because it contradicts everything that God is. The writer to the Hebrews said, “At that time His voice shook the earth, but now He has promised, ‘Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.’ The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken — that is, created things — so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” Hebrews 12:26, 27 NIV.
Only that which is joined to God in union and in harmony will remain. “The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:17 NIV.
By their words and their behaviour, the Jewish leaders who were continually challenging Jesus showed that they were not a part of His flock. Likewise, it is not those who preach most eloquently, or who “serve” the Lord most diligently or carry out their rituals most faithfully, who are of the flock, but those who listen to the voice of the Shepherd and follow Him.
Since they are joined to Jesus in a union of faith and obedience, they are already in His kingdom and experiencing His everlasting life. They are held secure in the Father’s hand and nothing, not even death, can separate them from Him.
The key is: Do you hear His voice? Are you following Him?
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.