my sheep hear my voice

Uncategorized Feb 10, 2021

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me.”  John 10:27

The way Jesus speaks here is weirdly subtle.  I think that I’ve always subliminally read this as “my sheep hear my voice and THEY know ME.”  But that’s not what Jesus said.  The sheep hear, and Jesus knows them…and THEN they follow him.  How does he know the sheep BEFORE they follow?  Where is the acknowledgement by the sheep that they are willing to follow?

If a shepherd has a field full of sheep all mixed up with wild sheep or those belonging in another’s field, how does he isolate his own and bring them forth?  Sheep aren’t very bright; they’ll follow almost anyone, off a cliff if that is where the rest of the herd is headed. And yet, sheep are also frightened of humans.  Once while driving in Scotland, we tried repeatedly to get a photo of our daughter with a sheep.  The herds wouldn’t budge for a car, but as soon as she stepped out of the car they fled in every direction.

These sheep hear a voice that is, in some way, familiar to them.  Perhaps an echo from early in the day…perhaps they are just curious.  They don’t move to follow…maybe they just raise their heads as the sound of the shepherd’s voice hits their funnel-shaped, sound-gathering, outer ears.  And the shepherd seizes that flicker of curiosity and calls them out.  THEN they follow. 

But if sheep are so herdable, what about the other sheep in the field?  There is always a chance that they will also follow the voice of the shepherd, eventually.  And that’s what this GOOD shepherd wants; he really does want ALL the sheep to come in out of the cold, come to shelter, because he knows them all…he loves them all.  

THIS shepherd lays down his life for the sheep, that none would be lost.  Even that one gone astray.  The good shepherd will leave the 99 to fetch the one stubborn sheep who goes on grazing as the herd is called.  Because the good shepherd knows that sheep as well…loves him in his stubbornness, his waywardness, his oblivion. 

This shepherd knows YOU.  He knows that right now you are grazing in the wrong field, munching on poisonous, noxious weeds that could harm you.

Lift your head.  Look his way.  Look into his eyes.  He knows you to your very soul.  No one else will ever know you like that and love you and lead you home to safety. 

Love, Liz