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A Midweek Devotional - The Shepherd's Voice

The Word of God has much to say about shepherds. It points us to the role of a shepherd and exposes the work of false shepherds. Zechariah 11 does both. In that text, the Lord rebukes the false shepherds who only seek to serve themselves, but He also exposes the false sheep who forsake the good shepherd. Jesus takes on this topic in John 10 with the powerful declaration, “I AM the Good Shepherd.”

Wednesday, August 19th

Larger Portion of Scripture - John 10

Focused Passage for Reflection - John 10:7-18

Reflecting on the Text:

Our world affords us many options. These options can serve as blessings, but they also require discernment. Recently I’ve been considering various cooking classes and have been overwhelmed by the choices. My biggest struggle has been in trying to find a useful way to compare and contrast the different instructors. While this may prove to be a very important decision at dinner time, John 10 offers guidance when it comes to choices that have longer-lasting implications.

We have many choices when it comes to Biblical teaching, but not all of the voices we hear are the same. And not all of them have the same motivation. Jesus speaks to the sheep in John 10, giving guidance and encouragement in how to recognize the appropriate voice(s). He begins with a series of contrasts. First, He describes Himself as the door. The door is the entry point to a home, or in this case to eternal life. While Jesus is the door, the false teachers were and are the thieves who try to enter another way.

Then, in v. 11, Jesus continued teaching by contrasts. He said, “I AM the Good Shepherd.” By contrast, the false teachers were merely hired hands. Both can have the appearance of tending sheep, but Jesus drew out the contrast in the way the two went about their work. The Good Shepherd lays His life down for the sheep. The hired hand runs at the sight of trouble because his concern is for himself rather than for the flock. Add to the hired hand the motivation of the thief to steal, kill, and destroy and you have the contrast in full.

But interestingly, helpfully, Jesus goes on to explain why the Good Shepherd lays down His life. He knows His sheep and His sheep know Him. This knowing is so intimate that the sheep know His voice. So with this contrast before us, what is distinct about the Good Shepherd’s voice compared with that of the thief and hired hand?

The voice of the Good Shepherd points to the glory of God. The voice of the Good Shepherd is one of sacrifice and submission. The voice of the Good Shepherd is one of God-focused and other-focused love. The voice of the thief and the hired hand is ultimately meant to serve self.

Among the many options and voices you hear in this world, learn to discern the voice of the Good Shepherd. Learn to discern His voice among the earthly shepherds who seek to teach. Learn also to discern this voice among the many desires you wrestle within your heart. Listen for the Spirit of God and distinguish His voice from the voice of the thief who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. Lastly, as you discern the voice of the Good Shepherd, tune your heart to respond. Tune your heart to seek the glory of God above all else. Tune your heart to live sacrificially. Tune your heart to love.

Questions for personal reflection:

  • Are the voices you are listening to, externally and internally, telling you to seek the glory of God or the glory of self?

  • Are the voices you are listening to, externally or internally, pointing you to the Good Shepherd who has come to lay down His life for the sheep?

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