But he that entereth in by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice. And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
How do the sheep know the voice of the shepherd? By spending time together. By establishing a relationship. By learning to trust. By experiencing the goodness of the shepherd. Once that relationship has been established, they’ll know who to follow. They’ll go with the one they know and can recognize, the one who supplies every need and tends to their wounds and ailments, the one who seeks their best and their benefit.
And so how do we know the voice of Jesus? By spending time with Him. By establishing a close relationship with Him. By learning and gaining an understanding of who He is. By hearing His voice and His Word over and over. And because, like a shepherd, Jesus knows each of us personally, He calls to us by name. He speaks not just to the world and to the church, but to each individual heart. He knows who we are, and He calls us to follow.
So how, then, do we know who to flee from? It sounds different. It doesn’t align with what we know Jesus to be. It is lies and deception, and we’ll recognize it as such when we know our Shepherd and are used to His voice. And so if we have known Jesus as our very own, we don’t need to hesitate. We don’t need to be fearful. We just simply need to follow. Because when we know Him in that shepherd/sheep relationship, we can know that He will not lead us astray or abandon us. He will be there to supply every need, to help and to guide us. He will speak with love and tenderness to the ones He cares for so dearly.
Jesus wants to be our Shepherd. He came to us and entered into the sheepfold. He gathered His flock, and He has ownership of them because He purchased them with His blood. Therefore, they mean very much to Him, and He will take excellent care of them. So most of all, may we just simply realize that it is worth it to put our complete trust in Jesus. He’s not going to let us down. He has our best interest at heart. So let us seek to know Him more and more, to discern His voice more clearly, and to be willing to follow behind as He leads us patiently and faithfully.