My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me – John 10:27
We like to think we are independent. We like to think we make our own decisions based on an objective assessment of evidence. But one look at the bobbing heads scurrying down city streets during the holiday season shows us something else is going on. Yes, one of those bobbing heads can stop to look in a shop window and even choose to go inside. But in the grander picture of things they are simply taking a detour that leads in the same direction. They are bobbing for the golden apples this world has to offer. Now I’m not a Scrooge. I love Christmas (when the presence of Immanuel is the emphasis). But what I’m saying is that it’s not always a good thing to go with the flow.
Years ago Bob Dylan wrote a song called “Gotta Serve Somebody.” Toward the end of his song the lyrics said, “Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk. Might like to drink whisky, might like to drink mil. You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread. You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king size bed. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord but you’re gonna have to serve somebody.” There is no middle ground when it comes to Jesus the Good Shepherd. Indecision is decision. You are either for Him or against Him.
You have to serve somebody. Any dead fish can float with the current downstream. It takes a live fish to go against the flow. It’s easy to be another bobbing head. Jesus calls us to stand out in the crowd. He calls us to shine His light. We are to salt the walk so that people slipping into a Christless eternity can find traction and the grip of Jesus to save them.
Why don’t people receive Jesus? Why don’t they join His flock? In John’s gospel it states, “Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep, as I said to you.” (John 10:25-26). People don’t disbelieve Jesus for lack of evidence. People disbelieve Jesus because they will not believe. No one ever spoke like Jesus. His authority and truth were and ever will be unmatched. No one ever performed miracles like this Man. No man ever did what Jesus did unless they did it in His name. No, people don’t believe in Jesus because they are not His sheep.
Who are the sheep of Jesus? Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10:27). Here are three characteristics of those who are the sheep of Jesus. Here are three characteristics of those who are not following the crowd but who follow Jesus. These are not bobbing heads. These are bleating blessed sheep of Jesus. Who are they?
Jesus’ sheep hear His voice. Jesus is calling. Will you listen? The word “hear” means they hear and will continue to listen to Jesus. Being a sheep of Jesus involves a life of listening to His voice. It means whatever you are doing, when Jesus calls, you come running. It means Jesus and His voice is your top priority. When you hear Him, you drop everything and give Him your full attention. When you hear your Shepherd you stand in the current, stick your head out of the bobbling head flow and go where He tells you to go.
Is there so much noise in your life that it drowns out the voice of Jesus? Is there so much activity in your life that Jesus can’t get your attention, even if He shouts? Are you listening for His voice? Do you know what it sounds like? Do you jump to attention and are you ready for action when you hear the voice of Jesus? Or do you hear the voice of Jesus and it means little to you; when you hear Jesus’ voice do you just keep doing what you’re doing; just keep going with the worldly flow? Jesus’ sheep hear His voice.
The voice of Jesus should demand and get your attention. The voice of Jesus can be a still small voice (Psalm 46:10). It can be a voice that speaks with thunder (Exodus 19:16). It can be a “still small voice” that speaks softly after a storm (1 Kings 19:12). The voice of Jesus should wake us up like reveille (Exodus 19:18-19). The voice of Jesus should be like the sound of a child’s voice in the night to their parent. The voice of Jesus should be like an ambulance siren. The voice of Jesus should be like the voice of your lover (Song of Solomon). The voice of Jesus should be like the voice of the One you love most and care the most about.
The voice of Jesus says, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15). The voice of Jesus says to our storms, “Peace be still!” (Mark 4:39). The voice of Jesus says, “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28-30). The voice of Jesus says, “You must be born again” (John 3:7). He says, “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing. The words that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63). He says, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water” (John 7:37-38). The voice of Jesus says, “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more” (John 8:11). He says, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free” (John 8:31-32). The voice of Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Revelation 3:20). The voice of Jesus says, “Surely I am coming quickly” (Revelation 22:20). The voice of Jesus, when we hear it, should immediately jump to the top of our priority list. Do you hear and attend to the voice of Jesus?
Jesus’ sheep are known by Him. Jesus knows who are and who aren’t His sheep. Jesus’ sheep are in a relationship with Him. Being one of Jesus’ sheep is more than external religious effort. Jesus commented in another gospel that some who refer to Him as “Lord, Lord,” some who have “prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name,” would not be known by Him. To some who did things in His name He will ultimately say, “I never knew you: depart from Me you who practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:32-23).
Does Jesus know you? How would He know you? Jesus would get to know us by spending time with Him, by walking side by side, hand in hand with Him each day. If you’re caught up in the holiday rush make sure you’re walking with Jesus. He’s able to guide us through the crowd. A relationship grows by spending time together. Do you spend time with Jesus? Do you give Him the time of day? Does He know you? Take hold of the hand of Jesus and walk with Him.
Jesus sheep follow Him. Being a sheep of Jesus is not merely saying so in word. Belonging to Jesus means you follow Him. “Follow” means follow for life, accompany for life, cleave steadfastly to one for life. If you say you know Jesus are you following Him? Are you following in the steps of Jesus? (1 Peter 2:21). Are you walking like He walked or at least endeavoring to do so? (1 John 2:6). Do you have your eyes fixed on Him? (Hebrews 12:1-2). Jesus’ sheep follow Him. Who are you following; the world, someone else, yourself? Are you following Jesus? Are you in the flock of Jesus? Do you hear the voice of Jesus? Does He know you? Are you following Jesus? Whose sheep are you?
Why is it important for us to belong to Jesus, to be one of His sheep? Jesus said, “And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish” (John 10:28a). Jesus gives us eternal life. This is His provision. This is His promise. We can depend on Jesus. And because of that we can be sure we “shall never perish.” “Perish” means ruin, kill, lost, be lost, perish, and put to death. The death spoke of here is not annihilation. It is the eternal death of torment imposed on those who have decided not to follow Jesus. Jesus offers us eternal life. Though we will die physically, we can see physical death in light of the eternal life Jesus provides. Death for the follower of Jesus is only a transition to eternal life.
Jesus continued, “neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.” (John 10:28b-29). Like parents crossing a busy street each holding the hand of their child, Jesus and the Father won’t let go of us! When we give ourselves to Jesus and the Father, we can be assured They won’t let us go. Jesus gives His followers eternal life. He provides His followers with assurance and security in their relationship with Him. And if that were not enough He affirms that the Father is greater than any enemy that might threaten the sheep. We can rest assured that “no one is able to snatch” us, “out of My Father’s hand.” We won’t get lost in the crowd. We don’t have to worry losing our salvation. As we abide in Jesus we are secure in Him. He and the Father are able to handle any enemy attacks we might face.
In his first epistle John writes, “That you may know you have eternal life” (1 John 5:13, 24). I encourage you to read that short five chapter Epistle if you doubt your salvation. It’s possible to know we are children of God. The Holy Spirit within us assures us that we belong to God (1 John 3:24; Romans 8:12-17). You don’t have to go with the flow. You don’t have to get lost in the crowd. You can swim against the current of this world. You can stand apart with Jesus. When Jesus looks at you do you think He knows you? Can Jesus look at you and say, “There’s one of My sheep”? Don’t settle for being just one more bobbing head. Don’t be a dead fish. Come to Jesus. Take His hand. Join His flock. Let Him be your shepherd.