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Recognisably Safe

John 10:2-5
The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep. The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognise a stranger's voice." (NIV)

In a corrupt world, where we feel we cannot trust people completely, it is a relief to meet someone who is recognisably safe. Jesus had just described the religious leaders of the time as sheep-stealers. They were supposed to be the 'watchmen' of Israel, but instead had persecuted the prophets and would shortly send Him to the cross. So, He contrasted their behaviour with His own, by describing the relationship a shepherd has with the farm hands and the animals.
A true shepherd is known by the farm workers and by the sheep. His voice is unmistakable, so much so that when the sheep hear they will follow him, because they trust him. He has no need to drive them in front of him (as today's western shepherds who use sheep dogs), but they identify the shepherd as the person they should naturally follow. They will not follow other people, their voice does not sound right - alarming the sheep who run away from imposters. That is how it would be with those people who believed in Jesus.
Although it is difficult to describe, the 'voice' of Jesus is recognisable and compelling to those who follow Him; and indeed to all those who are hungry to know God. John Newton, the 18th Century former slave-ship captain, knew that voice. He wrote many hymns including:

How sweet the Name of Jesus sounds,
In a believer's ear!
It soothes his sorrows, heals his wounds,
And drives away his fear.

That continues to be the testimony of those who are following Jesus as their shepherd. Is it true for you? If Jesus means everything to you, rejoice. If He means nothing to you, or to your friends, then please watch the presentation at www.crosscheck.org.uk and hear Him calling you.

Loving Shepherd. Thank You for Your voice which warns me of danger and yet comforts me with hope. I repent of my attempts to stray away from You and am very grateful that You call me back again, to repent and be received. Please help me to value Your voice and be much more ready to follow wherever You lead me. In Jesus' Name. Amen.
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© Dr Paul Adams