The Voice of Jesus
John 10: 1-18
"Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
So again Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and bandits; but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate. Whoever enters by me will be saved, and will come in and go 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.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand, who is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and runs away—and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. The hired hand runs away because a hired hand does not care for the sheep. I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd.
For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it up again. I have received this command from my Father.”
The Voice of Jesus
I had always wondered secretly why God never answered my prayers with his booming all-powerful voice. After all, God led the prophets in such a way and Jesus always vocally guided his disciples even after his ascension. I was also surrounded by the testimony of other Christians who boldly declared how Jesus led them in one way or another. I had always felt the presence of the Lord in my life, but why did I not hear his voice?
In John 10:1-18, Jesus tells the Pharisees that those in his flock know his voice. I remember a time in my teens when I was given the responsibility of feeding my grandfather’s cows in the winter. With a simple, “Here cowww,” the hungry herd surrounded me. Just as the Shepherd in Jesus’ parable, I counted each of them and ensured they were safe. How great it would be to hear a simple “Here Brett,” from my Shepherd, I thought.
As I began my career of working with troubled youth who knew the pain of the thieves and wolves, this passage took new meaning. On an otherwise insignificant day I found myself talking to a child who, like many of the others, continued to ruin promising opportunities with very poor choices. I remember saying to him, “If you only knew the hope and potential you have, you would follow me.” Suddenly, I was stricken by those words; they were not mine and I knew it. Still today I can hear them booming. Those words were meant for that child, but they were also meant for me. It was the voice of Jesus coming from my own mouth.
Since that day, I have learned to truly hear the voice of the Lord booming in those around me. His voice has always been there, leading this member of his flock as it is with you.
Lord, thank you for your voice in our lives and that you sent Jesus to always call out to your flock. Help us to listen to your voice, which will never lead us astray and let it boom within our hearts. Amen
Brett Bottorff is a lifelong member of the Loraine UMC and has worked at Chaddock for 12 years where he now teaches English.