One of the nice things about CB is you get an opportunity to meet Christians from around the world with a wide variety of different life experiences. For example, growing up in a city surrounded by cornfields and dairy farms, you really do not get much of a chance to observe sheep in action.
We have some members of CB who are actually quite knowledgeable when it comes to sheep. From time to time, we have had a few conversations about sheep and this has caused me to look at scriptures concerning sheep through new eyes.
A few weeks ago, while having one of these conversations, Joyce Bethy Ferguson (@bethy) told me that sheep will not just follow anyone. Now when Bethy talks about sheep, I listen because her husband G cares for sheep.
I have learned that a shepherd really is very protective of his sheep. The shepherd does not take kindly to anyone messing around with them. If you attempt to move his sheep without his leave or disturb them in any way, well... I would not want to be you.
Another thing I have learned is that if I go out and try to coax G's sheep to follow me, they will ignore me. Even if I were to put on his hat, boots and coat and head out it to the field, calling in my most gentle voice, they would not give me the time of day. Why? Because I have the wrong voice.
First century Palestine was sheep country. It still is. The Israeli Dairy Boards latest figures show there are 115,000 dairy cows. The national beef herd is about 34,000 cattle. There are more than half a million sheep in Israel today. Jesus' audience was undoubtedly quite familiar with the habits of sheep. They would have understood him perfectly when he said:
But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.They won't follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don't know his voice.
John 10:3-5 (NLT)
If we are a true "sheep" of God, we will recognize and respond to the voice of the Good Shepherd rather than to the voice of another. Whose voice are you listening to?