Fourth Sunday of Easter
April 29, 2007
The Voice of the Shepherd
Sometimes we don’t listen, do we? We do that with parents, spouses and children. Sometimes we don’t listen to God and Jesus, either. We get so absorbed in what we’re doing or with ourselves, we just don’t listen. This passage reminds us that the voice of the Shepherd goes before us – guiding us, protecting us, and telling us who we are.
The Shepherd goes before us
The Shepherd goes before us and prepares the way, which means there’s no place we go the Shepherd hasn’t already been. He’s already made the path clear and safe. There may be hardships, mishaps, even struggles but The Shepherd has already prepared a way through for. All we have to do is continue to listen to His Voice.
The Shepherd guides us
And when we prepare our hearts through prayer and worship we’re able to more clearly listen to the Shepherd who guides us.
At age 47, Nick Thomas found himself unemployed and under tremendous financial pressure. After a successful career in the Air Force and then in the insurance business, a series of financial setbacks and the failure of his own consulting business left him with no place to turn. He didn’t know what to do.
Frustrated, Nick’s wife, Liz turned to prayer. Every morning in church she prayed that something good would happen to change their fortune. In church one morning, she thought she could almost hear the words, “Make the mustard.” Her family had a mustard recipe from Russia. Every Christmas she made this special mustard and gave it to family and friends. At first she ignored the words. But they kept coming more and more persistently.
Reluctantly she told Nick, who, thought she had gone mad. But after considerable discussion and prayer they decided to listen to the voice. She prepared a substantial amount of the mustard. They packaged it and then called on a local cheese shop. The manager tasted it and immediately bought out their entire inventory. Within three months they had cracked the highly competitive New York major deli market.3
The Thomases committed their troubles to prayer, looked to God for guidance, listened for the Voice of the Shepherd and God gave them the direction they needed.
The Shepherd Protects Us
The voice of the Shepherd protects us. Listening to the Shepherd helps us in making hard choices, about who we are, what we believe and what is really important to us.
From the moment of our baptism and our birth into the Kingdom of God, the Good Shepherd promises to lead us to green pastures and beside the still waters. He promises to restore our souls and leads us through the valley of the shadow of Death. He promises to protect us.
The Shepherd tells us who we are
There are children who don’t know the voice of a caring parent. They can do whatever they want as long as they don’t get into trouble or inconvenience the parents. All the time what they really want, what they really need is someone to care – someone to call their name and let them know they matter.
The voice of the Shepherd calls us by name; He is the One who gave His life for us. Yet sometimes, as adults, even after hearing all the promises of God, they still persist in living outside the flock They question the voice of the Shepherd or the sincerity of the Voice. Or worse, they don’t think they can ever be worthy of that love.
The Shepherd loves those who don’t want to have anything to do with Him. He even loves those sheep who wander away. That’s when the Shepherd comes searching to bring them back and remind them where they belong and to whom they belong.
Jesus said: “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me” (v. 27).
The Shepherd is there whispering His love for us. The voice of the Shepherd goes before us, guides us, protects us and tells us who we are. All we have to do is tune our hearts, souls and ears and listen. (Billy Strayhorn)