- Sermon Notes
The Sheep Hear His Voice
Last week, Jesus healed a man who was blind from birth. He spit on the ground and made clay, applied it to his eyes and told him to go and wash in the pool of Siloam.
Controversy followed, however, because Jesus healed the man on the Sabbath. Some of the Pharisees were saying, “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others were saying, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs as these?”
The Pharisees brought the man before them. The man who was formerly blind stood up for Jesus in a powerful way. The confrontation came to a head when the Jewish leaders said, “We know that God has spoken to Moses; but as for this man, we do not know where He is from.”
The man who had his eyes opened then began to teach them, “Well, here is an amazing thing, that you do not know where He is from, and yet He opened my eyes. We know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is God-fearing, and does His will, He hears him… If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” That’s when they put him out.
When Jesus heard they had put him out, He found him and said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” He answered, “Who is He, Lord, that I may believe in Him?” This was his moment to declare his faith and he worshiped Jesus.
Jesus then turned to the Pharisees who were nearby and said, “Since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” In other words, they were spiritually blind, which is the greatest tragedy of all. He then continued to teach them that not only were they blind, they also could not hear, because the sheep hear the voice of the shepherd.
Jesus now teaches by using a figure of speech that He is the shepherd and those who hear His voice are His sheep. This applies to each of us personally because if you are one of those sheep that belongs to Him, then His voice is for us to hear.
In what sense do we hear His voice? Maybe you’ve run into one of those who believe God is always speaking to them in an audible voice and you’re not sure if they have a full deck. I wondered that myself. That reminds me of the story of the little boy who asked his mom, “Does God speak to us?” She said, “Have you ever done something naughty and a small voice in your heart tells you it’s wrong? That’s one way God speaks to you.” A few days later he came back and said, “Wow, mom, God speaks to me all the time.”
In these verses you also have several of the ‘I am’ statements of Jesus, “I am the Good Shepherd,” and “I am the door of the sheep.” And many more are found when you read the entire gospel of John. “I am the resurrection and the life,” “I am the bread of life,” “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”
Let’s look at these verses and apply them to our lives.
I. He is a Good Shepherd
- Jesus of course used figures of speech they would understand because they were part of their everyday lives. Sheep were all around them.
- God has used the picture of a shepherd and his sheep over and over in scripture and those scriptures would’ve resonated with them as well.
- “Like a shepherd He will tend His flock, in His arms He will gather the lambs and carry them in His bosom; He will gently lead the nursing ewes.” Isaiah 40:11
- “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside still waters.” Psalm 23
- When God uses the word ‘sheep’ to describe us, you have to wonder if it’s a compliment; I think not.
- Sheep are actually kind of dumb animals. They’re absolutely prone to wander. They’re vulnerable; they can’t run fast, they have no natural defenses, and they don’t have sharp teeth. Without a shepherd there are easy prey for wolves.
Isaiah 53:6, All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.
Illus – Phillip Keller wrote about lessons from a shepherd, “The strange thing about sheep is that because of their very makeup it’s almost impossible for them to lie down unless certain requirements are met. Owing to their timidity they refuse to lie down unless they are free from all fears. Sheep are so easily panicked that even a stray jackrabbit suddenly bounding from behind a bush can stampede a whole flock. When one startled sheep runs in fright a dozen others will bolt with it in blind fear. Not even waiting to see what frightened them in the first place.
- Another thing about sheep is that they do things as a group. How like sheep we are. We’re so concerned about the opinions of others. People watch others destroy their lives, yet many repeat it.
- Sheep are gripped by fear, often irrational fear.
Illus - The columnists Ann Landers and Dear Abby said that one problem dominated the letters they received – fear. People are afraid of losing their health, afraid of losing their wealth; afraid of losing their loved ones.
B. He is the door
- Several places in these verses Jesus refers to Himself as the door into the fold of the sheep. A thief and a robber comes in another way. He’s talking about the Pharisees here as thieves and robbers trying to get in and take the sheep.
- In that culture a shepherd would make a sheep fold out of branches and brambles to protect the sheep at night. The shepherd would then lie down at the entrance, making himself the door.
John 14:6, Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”
- But the picture is that of a shepherd caring for his sheep; he protects them. Jesus said He is a Good Shepherd. That’s the picture we get from Psalm 23.
Psalm 23:1-6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life.
- God wants to extend what’s good into your life. The problem is that many people have their own definition of what is good.
- Trials and difficulties are bad; prosperity is good. Whatever we don’t like is bad and whatever we enjoy is good. This is how many redefine what is good.
- Yet the Bible tells us that trials produce maturity; discipline is God loving us; and things the world finds pleasurable and desirable make the soul sick.
Luke 16:15, “For that which is highly esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.”
- God’s heart is to pour the goodness of God, the favor of God into our lives.
II. He Calls You by Name
- The relationship to the shepherd is given in very intimate terms in verses 3 and 4.
- I love the part where he says that he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
- Each part of those verses describe our relationship to the Lord, are Good Shepherd.
A. The sheep hear His voice
- Shepherds in that culture would often gather together at watering places. A shepherd would call and the sheep would know his voice.
Illus - When I was young I read a book about a dog that was part wolf, and the wild in the dog kept calling out to him. We are made in the image of God and he who is the Lord’s has a call inside of him that is the voice of the Lord.
Psalm 95:6-8, Come, let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God, and we are the people of His pasture and the sheep of His hand. Today, if you would hear His voice, do not hard in your hearts, as at Meribah…
- Even the wind and the sea hear His voice and obey.
- The dead will also hear His voice, and they will live because they heard it.
John 5:25, “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”
Illus - When Lazarus was in the tomb four days, he heard the voice of the Shepherd and came forth.
Illus - We also give names to our animals (Although we once raised a couple steers and named them Barbecue and Beef).
- A shepherd would also know that each sheep would have his own personality. Just like our dogs or cats.
Illus - We’ve had several pets with distinct personalities. There was Cocoa who was completely patient with the girls. Our cat, Angel, however, was not an angel.
- Jesus does not bring people into the Kingdom of God as a group. Everyone must have his own personal relationship, but God also has a personal relationship with each one of us.
Illus - When Jesus came into town Zaccheus, who was a chief tax collector, climbed into a Sycamore tree just to get a look at Him. When Jesus came to that place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”
- But it’s a relationship where we follow (Vs 3-4). He calls his own by name, and leads them out and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.
Illus - Cattle are driven because there is no relationship between them and the herder. With sheep it’s different. They follow the voice of the shepherd because there is a relationship between them.
During WW1 some Turkish soldiers broke into a Jewish sheep fold and were driving away the sheep. The shepherd heard the commotion, stepped out into the field and began calling out to them. The soldiers were powerless to stop the sheep as they ran to the shepherd, following his voice.
- That being said, hearing and then following must be put into practice.
James 1:22-23, Prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
Illus - In my parenting class I talk about how important it is to train a child to listen and compare it to teaching math. In fact, listening is like calculus for the soul. Case in point, how many of us have truly mastered listening to God?
C. How God speaks today
- God speaks through His Word. That’s the first and most important thing we need to understand because anything else has to be tested against His Word.
1 John 4:1, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
- This is one of the reasons we go through the Word of God verse by verse, because we get to know His voice and therefore His heart through His Word.
Illus - At a pastors conference pastor Chuck Smith gave us all some great words of wisdom. Read the passage you’re teaching 25 times, until it gets written on your heart. Then you’ll know the heart of the one who wrote it.
Illus - When our kids were a bit older and we had to leave them at home, we would try to give clear instruction, but then we would add, “Use good judgment; you know what we would approve or disapprove.”
- God speaks through His Holy Spirit, by speaking to the heart within us.
- God can lead us with peace or lack of peace.
Colossians 3:15-16, Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts… Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you with all wisdom…
John 10:1-11 NASB