God’s word is clear that His sheep hear His voice.  Often we don’t believe that God wants to speak, or that we have the ability to hear.  But God’s goodness towards His people is that HE is committed to teaching us how to listen well and with discernment. 

JOHN 10:1-21: But the One who enters the sheep pen through the gate is the Shepherd of the sheep. And it’s the gatekeeper who opens the gate to let Him in. The sheep recognize the Shepherd’s voice as He calls His own by name and leads them out. And when He has brought out all His sheep, He walks on before them, and the sheep follow Him because they are His, and they know His voice. They’ll never follow a stranger, but they’ll run away from him because they’re not familiar with the voices of strangers.” Jesus used this figure of speech when He spoke to them, but the people didn’t understand what He meant. 

A friend was visiting the Holy Land and was taken to one of the ancient wells that was still producing water. As he sat reflecting on the richness of biblical history, a huge flock of white sheep came up over the rise and made its way to the well. Its shepherd began to draw water and the thirsty sheep were hydrated. As they drank, another shepherd came up from the opposite hillside with his flock of sheep! All white, all identical to the first flock! Soon the sheep were intermingled as shepherd number two began to draw water for his flock. Our friend sat bewildered, wondering how they would possibly ever each claim their own sheep! Before he could resolve this dilemma in his mind, shepherd number three entered the scene with his hundreds of white sheep!

Eventually, the first shepherd began his journey back to his pasture, leaving the sheep to finish drinking. After walking several hundred feet away, he turned around back toward the well, and whistled! Once! He then turned away and disappeared over the hilltop, out of sight of his sheep. Immediately, hundreds of sheep begin to jostle back towards the direction they came from, following the shepherds call! A few minutes later, shepherd number two walked away towards his own pasturelands, turned, and whistled for his sheep. Different tone, different whistle, different man…one time! Immediately, hundreds of sheep separated from the others and followed their shepherd over the hill. And shepherd number three was left with his own sheep!

 Jesus, the Good Shepherd, calls us by name! We recognize His voice and we will not follow a stranger!  How personally our Shepherd leads us! If we are His sheep, we WILL hear His voice! So the question becomes, ”Are you a sheep?”

I’ve reflected on Jesus’ calling His people sheep!  So I did a little research and discovered that sheep actually have a very small brain!  The size of a walnut in fact!  You can’t teach a sheep tricks like you can with a dog.  They are simple animals who are great at simply producing wool, eating grass, and making baby lambs!  So why would Jesus choose to call us sheep? On the surface it would almost seem an insult.  But when I pursued the Lord for understanding this is what I discovered:  You don’t need a college degree to be a sheep, you don’t have to be smart, or pretty or popular!  You just have to be born a sheep!!!  The threshold for ‘listeners’ is simply salvation and learning to listen.  We don’t have to be the biggest and the best and the brightest… we just have to BE a sheep!  How freeing is that revelation! 

Of course, there’s much to be learned in the journey of becoming a listener, but the threshold is salvation by grace, and becoming a lamb in God’s family!  Hallelujah!

Adapted from Jesus InSync by Greg E Wiley and Deborah Wiley

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