He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.
Rabbis often taught using pictures and stories. Here Jesus gives us a window into who he is using the motif of a shepherd with his flock.
Sheepfolds were thick stone walled pens in which a flock could be kept overnight for safety. They had one open doorway in which a shepherd would lie, making themselves the “door”.
Sometimes several shepherds would share a sheepfold, mixing all their sheep. When they wanted to move on they would call out and their own sheep would recognise their voice and follow them out.
Do you hear your shepherd? What is Jesus saying to you at the moment?
It’s something for every ‘sheep’ of his to consider, but it’s especially important for those in leadership, a qualification, even.
When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, ‘Feed my lambs.’
Do we sense the Lord calling us again? He wants to call us again to be His men, his women. If you love Jesus you’ll love who he loves: you’ll feed his lambs. We can’t hear or know the voice of the Shepherd without deliberately listening, it’s a conscious choice.
No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shop window to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.
If you’re a person of prayer who spends time with Jesus, people will want to follow you and be like you. Let’s agree to pray bold, faith-filled prayers. We want our prayer life to make a difference. Let’s agree this for 2019 and give ourselves to hearing the voice of the great Shepherd and spending time with Him.