I AM THE GATE FOR THE SHEEP
Anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate , but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber
Whoever enters through me will be saved
I AM THE GOOD SHEPHERD
When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
BUT THEY WIL NEVER FOLLOW A STRANGER; IN FACT, THEY WILL RUN AWAY FROM HIM BECAUSE THEY DO NOT RECOGNIZE A STRANGER’S VOICE.
The shepherd lays down his life for the sheep
I know my sheep and my sheep know me
I lay down my life for the sheep
I have other sheep that are not of this pen – I must bring them also
They too will listen to my voice
There shall be one flock and one shepherd
My sheep listen to my voice
I know them and they follow me
I give them eternal life, they shall never perish
No one will snatch them out of my hand.
No one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
This powerful figure of speech brought great confusion and angst from the Pharisees, but to believers in Christ we are given great encouragement. We are encouraged that Jesus is our Great Shepherd and the Gate into the pasture. We are given great promise in this passage; I’ve highlighted a few above. The Sheep know him, they cannot be plucked from his hand, they have eternal life, and they will never perish. These promises are of great comfort to Christians.
As for what we learn concerning godliness we see that there is truly only one way, that is Jesus Christ. The sheep listen to the shepherds voice; they know and follow him.
The sheep (followers of Christ) know and recognize his voice and run away from others. This is godliness, to listen and follow the Good Shepherd and run away from any other voice. It seems that we hear the voice of the thief and the robber and we haven’ run away. The sheep, you and me, ought to be cautious of other voices. The voices can be any number of things, from the music we listen to, to the movies we watch, to the books we read, to the friends we surround ourselves with, to the preacher we listen to on a weekly basis. All have a voice and we need to discern whether or not the voice is of God or not. We discover the ability to discern what the voice of the Good Shepherd sounds like by prayer and the study of God’s word.
I will admit that I’ve never had a burning bush experience, but over time I think I know what the voice of God sounds like. It is often subtle promptings to do good and help people, to say a certain word of encouragement, or pray for a friend. That voice is the Spirit working within me and transforming me.
So the application here is simple: If I am a sheep in the fold of Christ, then I must continually follow the voice of the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd offers eternal life, “no one will snatch them out of my hand.” I must grow in my faith and learn what the Shepherd’s voice sounds like. I do that by the Study of God’s Word, Prayer and the practice of the other disciplines.
Our Prayer then is simply this:
Father, help us hear and recognize your voice. We are distracted by many other voices in our world, may we flee the voices that lead us away from you. May we recognize and follow your voice so we may be led to life. In the Good Shepherds name, Amen.