The ancient prophets occasionally used the imagery of the shepherd and his sheep to speak of God’s relationship to His people. Jesus himself spoke movingly about the relationship of the Shepherd with His sheep.
Many times while living in the Middle East, I walked alongside shepherds and observed the way they would actually “speak” to their sheep. In John 10:3, the Scripture says, “The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.”
Recently I listened to a sheep rancher recall one of his “growing up” experiences. He had taken his prize sheep to a judging competition and his animal was penned at the far side of a huge holding area. He described the noise from the spectators, coupled with the bleating of dozens of sheep, as “chaotic and almost impossible to discern a single voice.” “Nevertheless,” he said, “when I was a few feet away from my sheep, I raised my voice just a bit and called her name. Immediately her head shot back and her ears went up. Unbelievably, out of that cacophony of noises, she recognized my voice.”
I am aware of a dear brother in Syria whose parents were killed when he was just six years old. Picked up by a Kurdish tribe, he spent only a few months with them before being taken in by Bedouins in northeastern Syria. For eighteen years, his Bedouin family treated him as a son, sharing everything with him. Right from the beginning Ali became a shepherd. He described his shepherding job as “always a life on the go.” At night he would sleep at the entrance to the sheepfold so that any danger would be met first by him.
Until he was 28 years old, Ali thought all his brothers and sisters had been killed along with his parents. Unknown to him, a sister had been rescued and taken to an orphanage in Istanbul. She remembered her younger brother and for years searched diligently for him, finally locating him among the Bedouins. Eventually, Ali was reunited with her and other members of his extended family in Istanbul.
Ali later visited the Bedouin family that had so unselfishly cared for him. They told him that four of his sheep were still alive. He went into the big herd and started searching for them. It wasn’t long before he came out with three of the four sheep, but he was having a hard time deciding which one of two final choices was his beloved fourth sheep. In the end, he put his two fingers to his lips and whistled. Amazingly, one of the two sheep came forward to Ali while the other one stayed in his place. Ali had found his fourth sheep!
Jesus, in John 10:4, said, “His sheep follow him because they know his voice.” Maybe you have never known Jesus, the Good Shepherd, and do not yet know His voice. If that is the case, today is your day of salvation. Jesus is calling you by name. Do you hear it? Jesus longs to develop a close friendship with you. Talk to Jesus now and surrender your life to Him today.
Maybe you have known Jesus as your personal Savior for many years, but you have not been listening to your Good Shepherd’s voice. Maybe the cares of this life have deafened your ears to His voice. Maybe the allure of American culture has clogged your ears, making it difficult to make out the still small voice of your Savior. Take time to rekindle the closeness you previously had with Jesus so you can hear His voice once again.
"Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep. ... I am the good shepherd; I know my own sheep, and they know me."
Do you hear Jesus' voice speaking to you?