Last week, in The Shepherd and His Flock, Part 4, we saw that Jesus is the “gate” to the sheep pen. He willingly took the fall for us, when we were the ones who deserved it, and as a result, salvation and eternal life are ours for the taking. There is just one catch: We cannot get to Heaven in any other way except through Him! (See Acts 4:12)
But is Salvation the only advantage to being one of God’s sheep?
Not at all. Jesus mentions several others in this discourse. Let’s take a look:
“and the sheep listen to His voice. He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out … and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.” (John 10:3 NIV).
One of the biggest advantages to being a follow of Jesus is this: when we accept His gift of Salvation, we are assured that we will not only know God’s voice when we hear it, but that we will also listen to it!
But wait. Isn’t recognizing the voice of our Lord and Savior a huge problem for most Christians? How, then, is it that we will know it and listen to it?
Jesus gives us the explanation: “I am the Good Shepherd. I know My sheep and My sheep know Me–just as the Father knows Me and I know the Father…“ (John 10:14-15a)
Wait a minute. We will know Jesus in the same way that Jesus knows the Father? But isn’t Jesus God? Part of the three-in-one? An integral part of the God-head?
Yes, He is. And since He is a part of the God-head, then Jesus knows the Father and the Father knows Him!
But Jesus is saying we will know Him in the same way. How can this be? We’re certainly not part of the God-head!
We are told that when we accept Jesus’ gift of Salvation, He comes to live in our hearts: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Gal 2:20 NIV) If Christ lives in us, then we have a part of the God-head living in our hearts! This means that His voice is part of us!
So, then, why is it that we don’t recognize it?
Because we don’t take the time to listen, to spend time with God, to learn to hear His voice, to sense His presence, to understand when His Spirit is speaking to us!
So every time we say, “If only God would speak to me …”, He is doing just that! He is ready to give us all the guidance we need. All we have to do is learn to listen!
And that, my friends, is one of the biggest advantages to being God’s child! We have access to knowing the thoughts of the Holy of Holies, the Creator of the universe!
But there are more. Jesus also said, “When He has brought out all His own, He goes on ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him …” (John 10:4 NIV) Jesus promises to LEAD us! Where?
“He will come in and go out, and find pasture …” (John 10:9b)
Other places in the Bible confirm this, Psalms 23, for example. When Jesus refers to “pasture”, He is referring to food, water, peace and tranquility. All of that is ours, through Him!
If this is true, then why don’t we always feel like our food and water are sure? Why don’t we always experience that tranquility?
Jesus never promised we would live trouble free lives: “In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33b NIV). What Jesus promises is that if we keep our eyes fixed upon Him, we will overcome: “But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33c NIV)! Jesus came to give us abundant life: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10b NIV) But the only way to have that abundant life is to surrender completely to His will, to let Him carry us through whatever troubles we have to go through. He will provide our way of escape. It may not look the way we envision it to look, but it will be there!
Friends, when we follow our Good Shepherd wherever He leads, not only are we assured life eternal, but we are also assured that He will be our provider, our protector, and our guide. God wants us to live our lives to the fullest, and He knows that the only way to do so is by completely surrendering to His will. We may think that certain things are our “due”. But God doesn’t promise us riches or elegant cars or big, fancy weddings. He promises that our lives will be full, and that will only happen when we, like sheep, follow our Shepherd!
Please join us next Saturday for the last lesson from The Shepherd and His flock: There Shall be One Flock and One Shepherd.
In His love,
Lyn Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two teens, Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries.
(To access the entire “The Shepherd and His Flock” mini-series, please click here.)