The Voice of the Good Shepherd – Easter 3

The Voice of the Good Shepherd

John 10:11-16 T Easter 3

May your Voice, O Lord, be the voice your people hear.


When you answer a phone call without looking at the caller ID, you can know who you’re on the phone with based on the voice alone. If you know the person well, you can spot their voice pretty easily – even if you had a lineup of voices talking, you could tell which voice was your mom’s, your dad’s, your spouse, or your child. But if you didn’t know the person well, you wouldn’t know them by the voice alone.

Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Christians are His sheep. The sheep know the voice of the Good Shepherd. They’re familiar with his voice and could pick his voice out from a lineup of false shepherds. Because there’s that familiarity with the voice. There’s a familiarity with what the Shepherd says. From our text, Jesus says, “the sheep will listen to my voice.” And “I know my own and my own know me.” And then just before our text began, chapter 10 verse 4 says, the sheep will follow him, for they know His voice.”

Just before this Good Shepherd text in John, Jesus healed a blind man. Jesus’ opponents, the Pharisees, didn’t like that this man claimed Jesus healed him, and then gave praise to Jesus! The Pharisees said to the man, “You are Jesus’ disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where He comes from.” The Pharisees didn’t listen to Jesus’ voice. They claimed they listened to Moses’ voice – but even that is suspect since they chose to ignore the prophet like Moses who was to come, who was greater than he.

The Good Shepherd guides His sheep with His voice. That is, with His words. By ignoring the voice of Jesus, the Pharisees were willingly wandering away from the Good Shepherd, following their own cleverly devised systems, ethics, and power. They were the hired hands mentioned by Jesus in the text, who care nothing for God’s sheep. And the same is true today – there are a lot of hired hands out there that try and lead God’s people by cleverly devised myths, ethics, and power. Without hearing the voice of the Good Shepherd, we’re susceptible to following other voices that don’t want to protect the sheep. They’d rather let the sheep die then protect them. Because they seek to protect themselves, even if that spells destruction for the sheep. Because hired hands care nothing about your soul.

Whose voice do we listen to? Are we familiar with the voice of the Good Shepherd? Could we pick His voice out of a lineup? We’re going to put this to the test here a bit today. I’m going to say a phrase, and think to yourself whether or not that phrase is from the Bible, that is, it’s from the Good Shepherd. Or, if it’s from some other source.

First up: “For judgement Jesus came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” – that one is a quote from your Good Shepherd, from John 9:39.

Next: “He helps those who help themselves.” – Not from your shepherd. This actually runs the danger of teaching the opposite of faith because it puts trust in ourselves, rather than God, the provider of all things. We could see the blind man Jesus healed as an example of how this rubs up against faith.

Now: “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” This is from Proverbs 10:4. Now, this isn’t a truism in all situations, but is a wise proverb that our Lord encourages us with, as we seek to do work for His glory.

Next one: “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.” This is from Proverbs 12:1.

Okay – “God wants us to be happy.” Not from the Bible. This world idolizes happiness. Sure, God leads you towards blessings, one of those being happiness. But God cares more about your holiness than your happiness.

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.” Paul says this in Philippians 4:11 about His persecutions, His hunger, and various other trials he faced because of his faith. Paul’s contentment is in contrast to the prior phrase that God wants us to be happy. He gives joy and contentment despite the trials we endure.

“I can do everything through Christ who strengthens me.” – This one is often misquoted or misunderstood. The context is actually from the prior saying. The “everything” Paul speaks of is everything he endures while being persecuted for the faith. Paul learned to be content no matter what sufferings, punishments, and trials he endured because it was Christ who strengthened Him to be content in all circumstances.

“To thine own self be true.” – This is not from the Bible. It’s from Hamlet. This entire concept is unbiblical because it teaches you to follow yourself, whatever is in your heart. Which, the Bible says that the heart is full of idolatry, sexual immorality, greed, and all kinds of sin. And of course, if you’re following yourself, you’re not following Christ.

“Though they know God’s righteous decree – that those who practice such things deserve to die – they not only do them, but give approval to those who practice them.” – The Holy Spirit penned these words through St. Paul in Romans 1:32. Giving approval to sin is equated to the sin itself – showing just how depraved our human hearts are of craving true righteousness.

Lastly, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” This is not from the Bible. Yes, the Bible tells us to love and pray for our enemies. And it teaches us not to approve of sin. But this saying is often used to forego any real responsibility of calling a brother or sister in Christ to repentance.

I’m sure you’ve heard most of these phrases not from the Good Shepherd. And it’s usually told as if it came straight from the Bible. But many of these are not from the voice of the Good Shepherd. They’re from hired hands who care nothing about your soul. When the wolf, that is, Satan and death come, they are no where to be found to defend you, and give their lives up for you. That’s why it’s important as Christians to have discernment and wisdom. Otherwise, we’ll be tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine. But that’s what the hired hand wants. The hired hand cares nothing for the sheep, as is evident in some of these sayings. If they did care about the sheep, they would correct a sheep who errs when temptations came. They would stand against the wolf and not let the deceptive wolf devour the sheep! The hired hand would rather live and let you suffer spiritual destruction and hell rather than save you from eternal death.

Now, this text teaches us about false teachers – and let me tell you, they’re everywhere! And they always have the guise of making you “feel good” because that’s the spirit of the age currently. The spirit of the age is being affirmed towards our own desires, not causing offense towards anyone else who wants to live out their sinful desires, and everyone just do your own thing and have a good time. Such teachers will convince you of two of those pride-filled lies from earlier – “All God wants is for me to be happy” and “to thine own self be true.” Its easy to follow the desires of our own passions and thoughts. It’s harder to listen to the voice of the Shepherd, because it requires denial of self, humility, and change.

This is why it’s important to know the voice of the Good Shepherd. Because He’s the only one who has your best interests at heart. He’s the only one who laid down His life to protect you from the ravenous wolves who seek the destruction and death of your soul! In that way, He’s the only one out there who cares for you. Because as shepherds who’re good at their job do, they don’t let the sheep deliver themselves over to their own passions! He disciplines them! He pulls them over with the crook of His staff away from things they shouldn’t be doing! Not because it’s mean, but because He knows the sheep don’t know any better! That’s what a Good Shepherd does!

The Good Shepherd wants you to be true to Him. Because you’re safe only by His protection. And yes, that means getting rid of some bad habits and some bad ideologies, as you strive to follow the voice of YOUR GOOD SHEPHERD WHO CARES FOR YOU. By following the voice of the Good Shepherd, you are under His protection. He will renew your heart and mind to follow Him in all things. He will lead you to still waters and green pastures. And even though a particular time, trial, or situation in your life may look more like the proverbial “valley of the shadow of death”, the Good Shepherd doesn’t leave you alone in those moments, like the hired hand would. Rather, He walks with you through that particular situation. He even lays down His life for you, to protect you from the wolves which seek to devour your soul. He wouldn’t be a Good Shepherd otherwise.




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