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Listen to Jesus’ voice
Aaron Schultz
by Aaron Schultz
March 11, 2024

Last summer my wife and I adopted a puppy named Huckleberry. Since bringing her home, the one thing that’s stood out to me the most is how our presence drastically impacts her behavior. She whimpers when she can’t leave the house with us. She joyfully leaps into the air when we come home and kisses us like we’ve just rescued her from the pound. She follows us everywhere (and I mean everywhere), and if we don’t know where she is, all we have to do is call her name. She’ll rush back to us.

I’ve also noticed that the hairs on her back spike when she sees strangers. If any noise comes from their mouths, she growls and barks at them until they are out of sight. What is it about our presence that brings joy and happiness to our dog but when a stranger approaches, she is anything but? We are no different from the neighbor across the street, but to our dog, hearing our familiar voices means she will be loved and cared for. A stranger’s voice might lead her to harm.

This came to mind when our pastor gave a sermon on the Good Shepherd from John 10. Leading up to this chapter, the religious leaders known as the Pharisees had shown their failure to be Israel’s spiritual caretakers by demanding good works instead of pointing to God’s free forgiveness and promise of salvation. In response, Jesus described himself using the imagery of a shepherd and his sheep to show what it truly means for a spiritual leader to tend to the souls they watch over:

“The gatekeeper opens the gate for [the shepherd], and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 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 will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” (John 10:3-5)

To sheep, there is no physical difference between their shepherd and a stranger. The significant difference between safety and danger for the sheep is if the sheep are familiar with their shepherd’s voice. A familiar voice will call sheep by name; a stranger won’t bother. Their shepherd knows the specific needs of each sheep; a stranger wouldn’t be able to tell one sheep from another. When a shepherd calls out to the sheep, the sheep know that this voice has led them to pleasant pastures in the past and will continue to do so now; a stranger doesn’t have that knowledge.

Jesus has that familiar voice that calls you by name. It’s a voice that speaks peace and forgiveness to the heart of your worries and concerns. It’s a voice that leads you to his Word, where your faith is nurtured and remains strong. But honestly, at least for me, there are times when actual sheep listen better to their shepherd than I do to Jesus. I’ve heard his voice through his Word countless times, but am I actually listening to what he’s saying? I know he calls me by my name, yet I’m prone to forget what it truly means to be a child of God. I remember how my Lord has brought me safely to this day, so why am I so fearful that he won’t provide for me tomorrow?

Don’t let the strange voice of Satan lure you away from the security of God’s flock but be filled with peace as you listen to the voice of a Savior who wants nothing more than for you to be by his side forever. Hear your Lord’s familiar voice and be at peace as he walks by your side and leads you all your days.

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” (John 10:27,28).