“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me”-John 10:27

In the eastern hill country there was no sound more comforting to sheep than the shepherd’s voice.  If we were to observe the flock as they fed upon the verdant meadows, we would see a head rise here and there to catch a glimpse of the shepherd.  Every few moments, we would hear a bleat echo through the canyons as one of the fold communicated to the others: “All is well.  The shepherd is near, his rod and staff I see in the distance.” Just knowing that the shepherd’s eye was upon them, brought comfort to the helpless sheep in the wilderness.  So it is with every Christian. Just to know that the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ, is watching over every one of His sheep, every one of His lambs, brings comfort and peace.  

If you will notice His language, Jesus has promised that all of His sheep will hear His voice, “My sheep hear my voice”.  The word my expresses ownership, the sheep belong to Him, they are His property.  His voice we believe to be His life-giving voice….. when we are born from above.  Just as the shepherd was sure to bring every sheep home from the field at night and leave none to the wolves and lions, Jesus will bring all of His elect home to glory with Him.  His voice will reach them, whether it is into the darkest jungle where man’s foot has never trod, or into the mother’s womb, nothing will separate the Great Shepherd from His own.

It is equally comforting for the sheep to know that the Shepherd has perfect knowledge of every individual sheep, “I know them”.  When the shepherds of the east brought their sheep in from the meadow at night, we are told that the shepherd held a stick or a rod over them and counted them as they passed under the rod into the sheepcote.  Thus, he counted each one and knew if any were missing. He had a name for every one of them and if one was missing, he knew which one it was.  Our Lord Jesus’ knowledge extends beyond this.  His knowledge is perfect in all things. Being God, He exercises perfect foreknowledge and thus He knew all of His sheep before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1).  Surely this brings comfort to every one of His sheep, to know that they belonged to the Chief Shepherd before creation and that it was His love for them that brought Him from glory to the cross.  He died to save them from their sin.  Did Jesus not say, “I give my life for the sheep?” That is why He came. Not only this, but the helpless sheep can draw great comfort in knowing that every day, every moment, the Great Shepherd is watching over them.  Though we walk through dark valleys, though the shadow of death, He is there, comforting us along the way, dropping handfuls of purpose to encourage us and give us hope that things will be o.k.  He is the lily of the valley, our comfort in the darkest of trials. 

Finally, Jesus has promised that the sheep will follow Him, “and they follow me”.  Where did He go?  The tomb is empty.  Death could not hold Him. He is in heaven with the Father.  The finality of the soul, the resting place for the sheep, to be finally and forever with the Chief Shepherd gives comfort in the greatest struggles and in the hour of death.  Since death had no hold upon the Shepherd, it can have none upon His sheep.  They will follow Him to pastures and mansions in glory.    

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