Daily Devotional – I’m Normal.™ I AM Ministries
“To promote Godly living in a culture committed to destroying it”
Monday, January 16, 2017
Listening Sheepishly – Part 2 of 2
In Part 1 of this devotional, Jesus taught us how we, the sheep, will recognize His voice as the Good Shepherd. This knowledge provides great comfort knowing He is watching over us and our response to His voice will be sure. But He continues His discourse with a warning – while He is watching over us, others are plotting to do us harm.
“Therefore Jesus said again, “I tell you the Truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:7-10).
To appreciate the full impact of what Jesus was teaching in these verses, we need to understand something about the ancient shepherds of Israel. Jewish shepherds kept their sheep in two kinds of sheepfolds. Out in the country, the folds were low-walled corrals made of stone with a narrow opening in front. In the city, sheepfolds were much larger, more soundly constructed, and were often communal corrals. These had professional gatekeepers who knew all the shepherds who kept their sheep there.
Jesus refers to this communal corral, as well as to Satan, in John 10:10. When a shepherd arrived at the gate and was recognized by the gatekeeper, he was admitted into the fold. As he walked among the mixed flock, the uninitiated would wonder how he would ever find his own sheep. But as he begins to talk, in the characteristic sing-song that only his sheep would respond to, they come near to him and follow him out to the pasture.
The voice of the shepherd is vitally important to the sheep. Whereas they are not the most intelligent of God’s creatures, their ears are sure. For example, even when shepherds exchanged clothes to see if they could trick the sheep, the sheep were not fooled. This ability to discern is amazing for an animal not known for great intellect. Yet when the shepherds spoke, the sheep knew who the various men were and could distinguish between the different voices.
Often, several flocks of various shepherds were staged in these communal corrals. During this time, a hired hand kept guard at the door or gate. Whenever a shepherd came in the morning to take his sheep to pasture, the porter would recognize him and let him in the corral. The shepherd would call his sheep by name, and they would come to him and follow him out of the corral to pasture and water.
Sheep would not follow the voice of a strange shepherd. Occasionally, thieves would try to steal sheep, but the thieves would not go through the gate by the porter. Rather, they would climb over the corral wall to steal a sheep. What Jesus taught us is that the shepherd speaks to his sheep, the sheep hear and recognize the voice of their shepherd, and they willingly following him. Jesus spoke these words directly at the hard-hearted, spiritually deaf, Jewish religious leaders who had just cast a man out of the temple because Jesus had healed him of blindness and he was giving glory to Christ for giving him his eyesight (John 9:35-41).
The Jews could not possibly hear the voice of God or recognize God’s voice because they were spiritually deaf. Jesus was telling them the reason they did not recognize His voice was because they did not belong to Him. Those who belonged to Him did recognize His voice and gladly followed Him. Similarly, there are those today who are also spiritually deaf and do not hear the voice of our LORD. Jesus is still speaking to us today in this parable, for He is still the Good Shepherd and He is speaking to each of us in a voice He wants us to recognize.
It is normal to recognize the voice of Christ if you are one of His sheep. The question then becomes, “Do you belong to Christ?” Are you one of His sheep? Are you hearing the voice of your Shepherd and following Him? If you are not hearing the voice of Jesus Christ you may be spiritually dead and not even know it. It is only by accepting Him as LORD and developing a personal relationship with Him that you can hear His voice. If you belong to Christ and are not hearing His voice, you may have wandered away from the fold and need to return to Him.
Jesus wants us to listen sheepishly for His voice. He warns us there are many voices out there calling to distract us. There are the voices advocating greed, envy, pride, lust, selfishness, sloth, anger, envy and myriad other sins. Those who do not know the LORD often follow those other voices, the voices of strangers, but Jesus will never call us to sin. His voice always calls us back to the fold and into obedience. If you listen sheepishly, you will hear His voice and never follow a stranger (John 10:5). The Good Shepherd is calling you today. Make sure you listen to His voice and follow Him.
A servant of Jesus Christ
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