John 10: 1-6
(Read the full chapter here)
It goes without saying that we are living in unprecedented times. In the news and on social media, there are many voices competing for our attention. There are experts in all different fields giving us their interpretation of COVID-19 and its affects. Celebrities are helping us pass the time by providing entertainment and relatability. While these voices can be helpful and we should be grateful for those who are working hard to protect us, we cannot listen to these voices more than we listen to God’s voice. When God called his disciples, he said a simple phrase, “Follow me.” He did not ask them for their ministry strategy or qualifications, He asked for them to follow after Him and emulate Him.
In John 10, Jesus uses one of the common metaphors for people in Scripture, sheep. There are many reasons for this comparison, but one of the primary attributes of sheep that Jesus brings attention to is that they are followers and they move in a flock. It is because they are accustomed to their shepherd’s voice that they follow him and not the voices of other shepherds or worse, the thieves and robbers. These strangers, it says, the sheep flee from because their voices are unfamiliar.
In this time of much confusion, it would be easy to take stock in the many voices we hear in the world. However, if we think back to the Tower of Babel, these people were confident in themselves and wanted to make their own name great and the Lord confused their languages to show their lack of power (Genesis 11:4-5). There is no worldly power we can place our full confidence in. This virus shows this fact. What we can be confident in, is the goodness of the Lord, our Shepherd.
Since sheep travel in a flock, they can also be influenced by the flock. As believers, we need to follow the voice of the Shepherd, even when those around us go astray. It is encouraging to see many churches go online and seek to reach people even in a time of isolation. Though God is the only “great Shepherd” (Hebrews 13:20), God also appoints human leaders to guide His flock. In Numbers 27, God appointed Joshua to lead the people of Israel in response to Moses saying, “Let the Lord, the God of all the spirits and of all flesh, appoint a man over the congregation… that the congregation of the Lord may not be as sheep that have no shepherd.” (Numbers 27:16-17) In an age where the voice of the Lord is seldom listened to, it is important for believers to hear the voice of the Lord and rise up as shepherds to lead others into an acknowledgement of the Great Shepherd’s voice.
In the “Letter from our Executive Director” last week, Bob Briscoe shared how the slower pace in this season is allowing him to hear from the Lord better. As many of the things that fill our busy schedules and distract our minds are being removed, let’s fill that space with the reading of God’s Word. This is how we hear His voice more clearly and how we can be filled with His Truth to encourage others.
Find a quiet place, maybe a removed room of the house or somewhere outside, and bring only your Bible. Leave your phone, computer, and other distractions elsewhere. Ask the Lord to guide your reading of the Scriptures and to help you understand (1 Corinthians 2:10). Try reading an entire book from start to finish, maybe one of Paul’s letters (such as Galatians, Ephesians, and Philippians) or one of the historical books (Esther, Ruth, or Jonah for example). Read at a leisurely pace, thanking God for extended time in His Word.