John 10: (Jesus said) “Very truly, I tell you, anyone who does not enter the sheepfold by the gate but climbs in by another way is a thief and a bandit. 2 The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep hear his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 They will not follow a stranger, but they will run from him because they do not know the voice of strangers.”
It’s interesting to recall how many thousands of people heard Jesus teach and saw him perform miracles. And yet – very few actually stayed with him as disciples. They heard the shepherd’s voice and followed.
Jesus may not be with us in the flesh, but the Spirit of God still calls people via human voices. I first joined a Lutheran church in my early 20s. The pastor there, Pastor John, had a shepherd’s voice that I could hear. Pastor Bill, at the second church I joined, also had a shepherd’s voice for me. I also recall two lay women who were mentors for me – Nita and Rini. I definitely heard the Shepherd’s voice through them. There are many more I can name, many of whom were not pastors but lay leaders.
Part of the call of any Christian is to be the shepherd’s voice for others. That’s another way to think about evangelism isn’t it? When we speak words of care or hope or invitation – or even prayer – to others we open the possibility that the Good Shepherd may call that person to the flock via our voice. Isn’t that an exciting thought? Can you think of someone through whom you have heard the Shepherd’s voice along the way? And for whom might your voice be the voice of the Shepherd?
Lord Jesus thank you for calling us sinners to you, the Good Shepherd. We certainly get lost from time to time, but you never leave us behind. You are always seeking, always calling us back to you. Give us grace to listen for your voice today – and to be your voice for others. We pray this in your most holy name. Amen.