My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. – Jesus (John 10:27 NIV)
Unless you’ve learned something about shepherds and sheep you mightn’t think this is a verse about intimacy, but it is.
I saw an incredible object lesson on this in a YouTube video: There are sheep grazing in a field. Three individuals, separately, using the shepherd’s call, try to attract the attention of the sheep. None of the three succeed. The shepherd comes up, does his call and the sheep come bleating and running! Fascinating!
Even the shepherd’s distinctive call, used by the impostors, didn’t do it. The sheep were only drawn by the sound of his voice. It speaks so profoundly of the intimate relationship that existed between the shepherd and his sheep. They were not going to be tricked even by an imitation, because they knew his unique voice. It was wonderful to watch.
Of course, the sheep recognized the shepherd’s voice because he had spent lots of time with them. He lied down with them in green pastures, led them to quiet waters, anointed their heads with oil, was with them in the midst of danger. They learned his voice, grew to trust him and therefore were willing to follow him. What a brilliant picture of Jesus and us!
This is the great benefit of being attentive to Jesus’ voice: we come to learn, as we listen and follow, that he is entirely faithful and worthy of our obedience.
But a new revelation is dawning on me. There is a greater promise for those who are willing to pursue a love-relationship with him and his Church (See John 15:1-17). He actually wants to welcome into the Family Business those who would passionately love him and his Church!
Jesus said this about his relationship with his Dad: “For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does.” The Father is not willing to do anything without including the Son. Similarly, the Son is not willing to do anything without his Father’s input. What an incredible picture of mutual honour, submission and inclusion.
In a similar way, Jesus desires to bring us into his heavenly boardroom: “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” What a privileged position to which we are invited!
The call to be attentive to his voice, to seek his face, to abide in his love, goes way beyond being obedient followers. Jesus desires to include us, His Bride, in all that the Godhead is doing as history marches towards our glorious climactic future. We are destined to be co-rulers with Christ!
This is sufficient incentive for me to pursue Jesus with everything within me – and to love those that he loves!
Isn’t it for you, too?