One of my favorite passages from the Gospels is Jesus’ teaching on the sheep in John 10. This passage instructs Jesus’ followers that they are to listen to his voice. His voice is the legitimate one. He says in fact the sheep will be immediately able to spot a strangers voice and they will not follow it. He tells us that he is the good shepherd and that he has come that we may have life and have it fully (John 10:10)
There is a Greek construction called the ou meh (this is a transliteration) construction. This construction conveys emphatic negation. When this is present, the sense is that there is no way, no how, no chance that the thing will ever happen. This passage contains an such a construction in verse 5. Jesus is telling the crowd that his sheep will not follow a stranger. What this verse says is, “A strange person, they will never, no chance follow - this will not happen, they will flee from him…” (John 10:5a)
This gets me thinking about how well we know the Shepherds voice. It seems as if many voices call to us, His sheep. Unfortunately, we are like untrained sheep and follow just any voice. We listen to the promises of safety and comfort, and we believe and follow. We buy the next thing because we believe that this time this thing will provide substance, although we know that there is nothing more than an image to it. We visit websites that we should because we think that this time will finally be filled, unfortunately we are left filling emptier than ever. We listen to commercials that promise us that by swinging back and forth on a chair because we will have rock hard abs; while all we are left with is an empty wallet.
The problem is that we do not like what the Shepherd says sometimes. You see the stranger promises a green valley full of rich food to eat. In the end, we end up like Edmund from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. Our Turkish delight turns into a chain wrapped around our foot and we regret the very day that we ever listened that evil voice. Oh, what a mistake he made. He traded his Lord and his family for something that turned sour in his stomach. If only we could see life for what it really is.
What is the solution? We have to know the Shepherd’s voice better than we do. I have heard people tell me over and over again, “My God would not do that.” I cringe as I hear that because God does not belong to me, I belong to Him. He is not defined by me, I am defined by Him. If I love God for anything other than what He is, I am guilty of idolatry. Many of us imagine God as a better version of ourselves, when God is so much more than that. Don’t get me wrong, I do not claim to have the one authoritative definition of God. However, I strive to not water Him down, and tame Him. He is uniquely other, and He has given us a glimpse of Him through His word and in Jesus.
We must know Him better. We must. Matthew 24:5 instructs us that we must be wary of voices claiming to be the Messiah. We must know His voice.
His voice often calls to the edge of the cliff. Is it to scare us? No, it is to lead us to pastures, where the grass fills us. It is lead us to the living water where we will never thirst again. Consider Psalm 23. This was on my wall as kid. I looked at it every night. We will walk through the valley of the Shadow of Death, but guess who is there. His rod and staff will comfort us. If we are following Him the rod and the staff are not for our punishment. THEY ARE FOR OUR PROTECTION. The shepherd is there for our protection. Where he leads I will follow, but I, we must know His voice, we must hear it above all the others. I must ignore the trash. In fact, if I am his sheep, then I will not follow but flee from the stranger. I know this because the Bible told me so.