In John 10:27 the Lord makes a staggering (and oft disbelieved, by many) statement about us – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
For many of us in this day and age it not only sounds preposterous but plain unbelievable. Why?
Because we struggle – if at all – to hear our Shepherd’s gentle guiding voice in our lives; our experience does not corroborate it. So we choose to dismiss and ignore it or explain it away as unattainable and beyond our reach with many making it out to seem false and pretentious in how they live and conduct their Christian lives.
However, it is an unequivocal and categorical assertion that the Lord made when He stated that His sheep hear His voice. It is important that we never dismiss or ignore Christ’s claims especially when they pertain to us. The Lord never makes pretentious, exaggerated or implausible statements and claims. His statements are never flippant or insincere. We therefore need to take a closer look at this categorical statement He makes when it comes to our ability to hearing His voice. Three extremely important and note-worthy points arise as we do that.
The first is that Christ’s bold assertion that His sheep hear His voice is definitely not elitist or restricted to a select few. No, He categorically stated that His sheep, every single one of them who belong to Him, are His followers and are called by His name, hear His voice. Accordingly, as His sheep we are all meant to hear His voice – that is the clear and unambiguous implication of this staggering assertion. As it is the natural order of things for sheep to hear and discern their shepherd’s voice in order to receive guidance and direction from him, so too every single one of us who belong to Christ are meant to hear our Shepherd’s voice for our guidance and direction in life. In a slightly earlier discourse a short while before, the Lord makes it clear that His relationship with His sheep is very personal – He calls them out by name – how much more personal can you get? The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out (John 10:3). This is how intimate and closely Christ our Shepherd expects to relate with His sheep – on a personal level where He calls to us individually and we respond accordingly by following His direction. There is no escaping or denying this truth.
The second is that hearing His voice is not only not the preserve of a select few but neither is it a luxury that we can do without. It is a necessity – it is the essential requirement or precondition to following Him into fresh pasture and abundant life. It is His voice that is meant to lead and guide us into His life. John 10:9 — 10:10
I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
The third and final point is that Christ makes this all-encompassing assertion regarding His sheep being able to clearly hear His voice so as to follow Him against the backdrop of a list of imposters – strangers, thieves, robbers, liars and murderers – all vying for our attention with a view to diverting us from Him. The clear implication is that we need to discern and differentiate His voice from that of the various imposters disguising themselves if we are going to successfully follow Him into our destinies.
When we consider that it is in the context of speaking about the enemy’s deceptive, lying and murderous nature that the Lord inserts this vital truth, it is very worrying that most of His sheep don’t even take Him seriously when He makes this categorical statement let alone hear His voice for themselves. But this is where it all starts, by believing Christ and His words, by facing up to the truth of what He’s saying and starting to do something about it. And that something consists of building our capacity to hear His voice, our Saviour’s voice for ourselves. It is His voice that Christ desires and intends for us to hear in order to follow Him, to navigate our way through life toward that abundance He promised and the destiny He has for us. Not independent of Him or with the vaguest of directions. Christ has unequivocally asserted that we hear His voice for the stated objective of following Him. Period. We are the sheep of his pasture who are meant to hear our shepherd’s voice, each one of us for ourselves, to follow Him in and out in order to find pasture and into the abundant life He came to give us.
It is with the objective of letting us know for certain that we have a shepherd whose voice we are meant to and need to hear that Christ makes this forthright assertion – My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. We need to so learn to hear His voice for ourselves to the point where we are able to discern and differentiate it from the enemy’s if we are to follow Him into His abundant pasture and life He promised us.
But how do you hear His voice for yourself?
Where do you build the capacity to hear His voice for yourself?
Like the Lord Himself it is in your quiet place of daily devotion you build and practise the art of listening to God’s voice.
In the next post we will be looking at how exactly Christ practised that while walking here on earth with a view to learning how we too can do it for ourselves.