“My Sheep Hear My Voice” (John 10:22-30)

Fourth Sunday of Easter
May 12, 2019

“My Sheep Hear My Voice” (John 10:22-30)

On this Good Shepherd Sunday, Jesus says to us: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” This is our text.

“My Sheep Hear My Voice.” I should certainly hope so! But how closely are we listening? And when we hear the voice of our Shepherd, do we follow where he is leading? Today we will hear the voice of Jesus speaking to us, and by God’s grace we will follow where he leads.

You know, there are many voices that we hear speaking to us. But not all of them are worth listening to, even though they may sound appealing at the time. Take, for example, the voice of that old serpent, the devil. He comes whispering in our ear, doesn’t he, just like he talked to our parents in the garden. “Did God really say?” he subtly starts out, planting a seed of doubt in our mind. Then he follows up with “Oh, you don’t have to worry about any threat of punishment! God is just holding out on you, wanting to spoil your fun. Go ahead and do what you want. You know, you ought to be able to be your own god, making up your own mind as to what’s right and wrong.” Friends, that is the voice of the devil tempting you, subtly seducing you to disregard God, to be your own god, and to go your own way. That is a voice you should not listen to.

But that’s not the only voice you should recognize and reject. There is also the voice of the world, the sinful world around us. The world pumps its aberrant values and false beliefs into our ears every day. And often we are inviting those voices into our homes and into our hearts without any discernment. The voices coming to us through our television sets: Oprah, Ellen, Today, Good Morning, the View, the late-night talk shows, pundits and politicians–all pouring their poison down our throats without us even noticing it. Same-sex marriage? You’re a homophobe if you oppose it. Abortion? It’s a woman’s right to choose. But these voices go against what God says. Which voice will we listen to?

The world’s voice comes in other forms, too. You need more material possessions. More clothes than three persons could wear. The latest electronic gizmo. You’ve just got to have it! You can’t live without it! We live for our toys. What am I going to buy next? We’re not content without our stuff, and there’s always more that we think we need.

The world’s voice says, “Divorce? Go ahead. You’ve got to do what makes you happy.” “Living together outside of marriage? Hey, everybody’s doing it. You don’t need a piece of paper.” Often your friends have fallen for these lies, and they’re nice people, aren’t they?

So your peers, the people you talk to at school or around the water cooler at work or over lunch at the senior center–that’s the world talking to you too. What are they telling you? Are you influencing them, or are they influencing you? For good or for ill? Can you tell the difference?

Do we recognize when the world is telling us things that don’t line up with God’s word? Hint: You kinda gotta know what God’s word says, in order to do that. More on that later.
So there’s the devil’s voice casting doubt on God’s word and God’s goodness. There’s the world’s voice, brainwashing us to conform to the culture. And if those weren’t enough, you’ve also got a false voice living right inside you. That’s your own sinful flesh. Yes, you can be your own worst enemy. You tell yourself lies. You rationalize to suit your pleasures. “Oh, God will forgive me. I’ll go ahead and do what I want, just this once. I can repent later.” Yeah, right. The heart is deceitful above all things, the Bible says, and that’s talking about your heart and mine. We indulge our own desires, and we suppress that nagging voice in our conscience telling us, “No, don’t go there.” Whose voice are we going to listen to?

But then here comes Jesus, and the first thing he says to us is “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” Repent. Turn around. Turn from your sin, and turn to God in repentance. Mourn your sin–your particular sins and your underlying sinfulness. Change your mindset, your whole way of thinking. Do not be conformed to the world, but be transformed, by the renewing of your mind. The Holy Spirit needs to transform your mind, to bring it in line with God’s word.

Friends, Jesus is speaking to us today. “My sheep hear my voice,” he says. But why should we listen? Who is this Jesus, that we should listen to him? “If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” Well, Jesus has told us plainly. He has told us that he is the Christ, the Messiah, the end-time deliverer sent from heaven to rescue humanity. Indeed, Jesus is God in the flesh, the Son of God incarnate. And his works testify to his person. He does works ringing with divine authority and deep compassion. He heals the sick, gives sight to the blind, calms the storms, and feeds the multitudes. He raises the dead and brings good news to the poor. Who can do these things? Jesus can, and he does.

And there’s another work he does that only he can do. Jesus dies for your sins. You cannot rescue yourself. You cannot pull yourself up out of the pit you have dug for yourself by your sins. Your works won’t be enough. But Jesus’ work is more than enough. Only Jesus can save you, because he is the Son of God. Christ Jesus died on the cross for you–yes, for you, for your sins, so that now your robes are washed white in the blood of the Lamb. And having died for the sin of the world, Christ Jesus then rose from the dead in joyous, triumphant victory. And you have been baptized in his name, so that you will share in his resurrection.

Do you believe this? Do you know Jesus to be your Good Shepherd? Then you will listen to his voice. Listen to what he says to you today: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Isn’t that good news? It’s the best news of all! Jesus knows you. Your Good Shepherd calls you by name. You belong to him, and he will take good care of you.

He gives you eternal life! Think of that! Imagine how wonderful that will be! John got a glimpse of it in the Book of Revelation: “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Friends, it doesn’t get any better than that! This is what we’re heading for. We are following Jesus into eternal life. This is where our Good Shepherd is leading us. Following Jesus–this is what life is all about. Hearing his voice and following where he leads–this is the way of life; walk ye in it.

So how do we hear his voice? Simple. You’re doing that here today. Here in God’s house, this is where Jesus speaks to us. Every Sunday Jesus shows up right here, and he always has something to say to us. He has the words of eternal life, and you won’t get those anywhere else. And Jesus has words for his followers here in this life. “Love one another,” he says, “even as I have loved you.” “Love your enemies. Forgive others as you yourself have been forgiven. This doesn’t come to you naturally, but the Holy Spirit will guide you in these ways.” “Trust in your heavenly Father. He loves you and will take care of you. Don’t worry. You’ll have enough to eat and clothes on your back.” “Do you wonder if God loves you, because of the suffering you’re going through? Look to my cross, and there will be your answer.” Jesus is speaking to us today. Do you hear his voice?

To hear his voice, to be able to distinguish his voice from those other voices clamoring for your attention, to hear the voice of your Shepherd and to follow where he leads–to do this, you need to be in God’s word. Not as little as you can get by with. No, as much as God wants to give you. And that means every Sunday, in church, for Word and Sacrament. It means even staying for Bible class, to dive in deeper and to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Next Sunday we start a new Bible class on the Book of Revelation. I encourage you to stay for that. And we have a Thursday morning Bible class, too, if you can make it for that. In short, if you want to hear your Shepherd’s voice, then be here where Jesus is speaking to us, in the preaching and the teaching.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Dear friends, you are safe and secure with Jesus as your Shepherd. Nothing can harm you. Nothing can separate you from God’s love in Christ. Even death becomes only the entrance way into eternal life.

“My sheep hear my voice.” And what a voice it is! It is the voice of our Savior and Shepherd. And when we hear that voice, then we will say with the hymn writer:

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“I am this dark world’s light;
Look unto Me; thy morn shall rise
And all thy days be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
In Him my star, my sun;
And in that light of life I’ll walk
Till trav’ling days are done.

Published in: on May 11, 2019 at 11:22 pm  Leave a Comment  
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