The Sheep That Hears
In the gospel of John chapter 10, when Jesus facing a growing opposition, draws His followers ever closer by introducing them to the kind and caring leader He embodies—the Good Shepherd. Jesus wants His disciples to recognize that He is not like the abusive religious leaders who were in constant conflict with Him and His ministry. He shows them that they must follow Him as sheep follow their shepherd. The Good Shepherd is one of most informative images of Jesus in the bible. Part of that image involves His leadership or lordship of the flock. Jesus expresses that role by saying, “My sheep hear My voice.” Only the Lord’s true sheep follow and obey Him because they know and recognize His voice. Jesus said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me” Christ leads by example. His life illustrates how we ought to live. He doesn’t have to push or prod us to follow Him but guides us by walking ahead of us. And His sheep hear His voice, that is, we know His voice and recognize Him as our leader.
The simple statement, My sheep hear My voice expresses personal intimacy between the shepherd and his sheep. There had to be an unmistakable familiarity between sheep and shepherd for the sheep to feel safe and know which voice to follow. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me” Knowing the Lord’s voice indicates experiential knowledge through a relationship with Him. My sheep hear My voice also highlights the call of Jesus Christ that brings the faithful into a new and abundant life of fellowship with Him. Jesus as the Good Shepherd calls us by name, and He knows us by name.
My sheep hear My voice speaks of those who listen with obedient attention—this kind of listening results in faith. Paul taught the Romans, “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ” (Rom. 10:17). One primary way we hear the Lord’s voice is through the Word of God. By hearing His voice in Scripture, we get to know Him, and knowing Him produces faith, and that faith causes us to follow and obey. True sheep know God’s voice and prove it by obeying His commands as Jesus did.
My sheep affirms that there are true sheep and false sheep. True sheep know, listen to, and obey the Good Shepherd’s voice; false sheep pay no attention. My sheep also communicates the reality of our union with Christ. We belong to our Good Shepherd. Of His sheep, Jesus said, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one” Those who belong to the Good Shepherd belong to God the Father. They are His forever. Jesus laid down His life on the cross to give His followers eternal life, and they are safe in His sheepfold for all eternity. By grace, the Good Shepherd has saved them through faith, and now they belong to the family of God forever.