John 10:1 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. 7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. ESV
What is the general theme of the passage?
A sheepfold in a central location where shepherds from many places could bring their flock for the night sounds like a good idea. The shepherd could rest easier knowing his flock was not scattered all over the hillside but at the same time it made all those sheep a convenient target for a thief. It’s not too hard to to imagine how chaotic the noise of all those shepherds and sheep must have been. Jesus tries the subtle approach first; it’s not the sheepfold that keeps the sheep safe. They didn’t get it! Now comes the hard truth for those self-declared watchmen of Israel; “A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” What keeps the sheep safe is they recognize and follow only the voice of their own shepherd. “I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers.”
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Could this be Jesus hinting at the mystery of his own multifaceted identity? “…He [the Spirit] “when he has brought out all his own…goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. “He [Jesus] is “the Door of the sheep.” “To him the Gatekeeper [God] opens.”
What does it say about people?
“…the sheep follow him, for they know his voice”…and…” If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”
Is there truth here for me?
Everything I wrote about the sheepfold began to sound familiar to me. My world is a not-so-safe place today. Life has become noisier, bigger and crowded with chaotic voices and activity. Everyone is part of some flock or other hoping to find a little security. This is the reality of a modern day sheepfold: safety depends on hearing the right Voice. Are you listening? Jesus is the only safe place; “the door of the sheep,” the Shepherd/Gatekeeper who speaks, trying to be heard over the noise; “If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.”
John 8:31 So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, 32 and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” 33 They answered him, “We are offspring of Abraham and have never been enslaved to anyone. How is it that you say, ‘You will become free’?” 34 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who practices sin is a slave to sin. 35 The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.
Abide1: accept or act in accordance without fading or being lost
Disciple2: a personal follower
Truth3: the body of real things, events and facts
Free4: the power or right to act, speak or think without hindrance
Offspring5: genetic heritage of physical union
Enslaved6: lost the choice or ability to act freely
Truly, Truly7: to the fullest degree
Practice8: the application of something to acquire or maintain proficiency in it
Sin9: wrong choices and wrong actions that make God your enemy
Slave10: the legal property of another and forced to obey them
If you can 1accept or act in accordance with Jesus’s Word without fading or being lost you are 2a personal follower of His life. Jesus’s life is 3the body of real things, events and facts that give you 4the power or right to act, speak or think without hindrance. 5Your genetic heritage will not protect you If you have 6lost the choice or ability to act freely. 7Jesus tells you to the fullest degree that if what you 8apply and use to acquire proficiency are 9wrong choices and wrong actions that make God your enemy, you have become 10the legal property of another and forced to obey what you have heard from the wrong father. Please hear these words of freedom Jesus has seen firsthand with His Father and let them find their place in you: “The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son remains forever. So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”
John 12:47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.” ESV
These Words are the last thing Jesus says before separating himself from his public ministry to begin this very personal “Passover” preparation. Jesus speaks these Words as a commandment from His father. They are the judge, not Jesus. God’s commandment is eternal life and He has given Jesus the power to Pass Over His judgment to liberate those who will hear and keep His Word.
2 Peter 3:9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise,
as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake.
He does not want anyone to be destroyed,
but wants everyone to repent. NLT
Psalm 86:5 You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. [NIV]
Let this songa be a part of every heart in worship today.
I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul, rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound
In Your ear
aLyrics to I Love You, Lord by Petra from Petra Praise 2
If you’re unfamiliar with this song. There are many places on the internet you can listen to it and sing along.
NIV Hebrews 3
• 1…think carefully about this Jesus whom we declare to be God’s messenger and High Priest…
• 7 That is why the Holy Spirit says, “Today when you hear his voice, 8 don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled, when they tested me in the wilderness…
• 15 Remember what it says: “Today when you hear his voice, don’t harden your hearts as Israel did when they rebelled.”
There’s a mystery involved in hearing the unspoken Word of this book we call our Bible. We know the mystery involves our training to recognize guidance and respond to Word that can speak truth into the human heart. “There is a beautiful story in the Old Testament where the prophet stands at the mouth of a cave and the Lord is passing. There is thunder, and the Lord is not in the thunder. There is an earthquake, and the Lord is not in the earthquake. There is fire, and the Lord is not in the fire. Then there is a still, small voice, and the Lord is in that voice. (See 1 Kings 19: 11–13.)” Intro to Following Jesus [Finding Our Way Home in an Age of Anxiety] by Henri Nouwen
OK, it’s the Holy Spirit…√. Do you imagine the writer of Hebrews was just casually writing “think carefully about this Jesus” or “today when you hear his voice” or “remember?” The answer of course is no! The Holy Spirit is the vital voice that teaches us to consciously respond to that mystery. The “gentle whisper” that happens “today” when you allow Jesus to teach you is the Holy Spirit speaking the reality of the Word within you despite the noise of the world around you.
The passage from 1 Kings ends with the question of the day. “And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here Elijah [insert your name here]?” I hope your answer is thinking, hearing and remembering.
Ecclesiastes 5:1 Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. Go near to listen rather than to offer the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong. 2 Do not be quick with your mouth do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.
“Silence is one of the deepest disciplines of the Spirit simply because it puts the stopper on all self-justification. One of the fruits of silence is the freedom to let God be our justifier. We don’t need to straighten others out.” Richard Foster Seeking the Kingdom
The effort I spend daily to sort and write my thoughts for these blog posts is my door into the “house of God.” It’s as simple as this: when I’m writing, I’m not talking…I’m listening. It’s a different kind of listening that let’s you “hear” what God is silently speaking into your heart.
God’s Words have power even when they’re unspoken. I was so certain what had been silently spoken into my heart was meant for someone else that day but God chose silence for me. The unspoken Word I’d prepared to support “my” right position and straighten “them” out, changed me instead. The obedience of silence became a repentance of tears that saved me from using the power of the Word as “the sacrifice of fools, who do not know that they do wrong.”
How, why and when we speak matters. “Do not be quick with your mouth do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God.” “God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few.”
John 10:27–28 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Alexa! Hey Siri! OK Garmin! These are names associated with voice recognition technology that enables a machine or computer program to receive, interpret, understand and respond. Even if you personally have never used them, you’ve likely heard those names. I suggest there’s an even more important name associated with voice recognition technology…Jesus!
This verse from John is my evidence that God should be the one to get credit for what seems to be a “new” technology that enables those who follow his Son to receive, interpret, understand, hear, recognize…and follow the voice of their Shepherd…and he will respond, “I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Listen! Jesus, Jesus, Jesus; there’s just something about that name. Master, Savior, Jesus, like the fragrance after the rain; Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, let all Heaven and earth proclaim. Kings and kingdoms will all pass away but there’s something about that name. [Bill Gaither]
• 21 “Do you bring in a lamp to put it under a bowl or a bed? Instead, don’t you put it on its stand? 22 For whatever is hidden is meant to be disclosed, and whatever is concealed is meant to be brought out into the open.
• 23 “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear. 24 Consider carefully what you hear,”
• “With the measure you use, it will be measured to you—and even more. 25 Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them.”
The crowd Jesus was speaking to was accustomed to their connection to God being dependent on a priest in a synagogue where they would be required to sit until dismissed. Jesus knew two important things about them. They were there because they’d heard he was changing lives AND they were free to wander away at any time.
He gave them stories that could become their lightning flash of reality; to discover a heavenly meaning in the seemingly inconsequential events of daily life. They weren’t meant to be studied at length but to cause an immediate response. If people would see and hear them in the actual presence of God they could discover truth of God that was truly their own. God wasn’t only there in the church, he desired a direct connection to their day-to-day lives.
I read somewhere these words of Jesus are sometimes called orphan statements. I don’t know when the concept of God as Our Father began but I do know without God we’re all orphans. “If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear. Consider carefully what you hear,”