Franciene and I hope that you are enjoying this wintry week and the next lesson in our study. This beautiful image of the Good Shepherd is probably one of the best-loved and most comforting images in the Bible.
In Chapter 10 Verse 3 we read that “the sheep hear His voice, and He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out His own, He goes before them, and the sheep follow Him, for they know His voice.” We believe that He specifically calls each of us, and then remains with us always. Isn’t that a comforting and pleasing image to us?
A footnote in my Bible reminds us that for Jesus to call us each by name is such an amazing mark of intimacy and familiarity. I have often thought about how personal and individual our own call is from Jesus in our lives, but how we can still turn away from His voice if we choose not to listen to or follow Him. But to think that He calls us each “by name” reminds us that He knows us so completely – even our innermost being – and He loves us with a personal love that is as if we were the only person who existed for Him.
Jesus tells us “My sheep hear my voice. I know them and they follow Me.” These words assume an existing relationship because Jesus uses the word “my” as the possessive adjective before the word “sheep”. And this personal and familial relationship, which was begun at our Baptism, leads us toward eternal life and promises that those who hear Jesus’s voice will not perish or be snatched away form His care.
I like to think that after our Baptism, each of us hears Jesus’ gentle voice in a way that is tailored specifically to us – to our personalities and to the particular circumstances of our life – and that we allow Him to lead us to the pastures He has chosen for us, and that we remain in His care. We know that He leads us each by different paths, but we are all part of His pasture where He nourishes and protects us. The challenge for us, I think, is to continue to make the effort to focus on His gentle voice in our noisy world, as He continues to call us toward Himself.
I hope that we can each find some time this week as we study this beautiful chapter to strive to listen to that gentle voice in our souls, and that we can keep our eyes fixed on our Good Shepherd, so that we can follow Him always.
Franciene and I hope that you are enjoying this lesson, and – as always – feel free to call or email either of us with any questions. We look forward to seeing you next Tuesday!