Many voices call out for our attention.
Many would-be shepherds call out, “Follow me!”
For example, Google, in an effort to scan every book in existence, calculated that there are 129,864,880 unique books in the world. Each of these books represents a voice calling out to be heard. Not all say, “Follow Me,” but many do.
Another example would be political campaigns. How many candidates run for office and call out “FOLLOW ME”?
Of course, I am myself a preacher and must include my voice in our considerations. Many preachers call out “Follow Me!”
Which voices do you choose to listen to?
How do we know which voices are reliable guides?
John tells us that Jesus was the Word, was with God in the beginning and He was God. He came and dwelt among us. This is found in the first chapter of John as John introduces his subject. This means that God, our creator, was living among us. John 1:14 says:
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son. (John 1:14 NLT)
Jesus’ voice is unique among all the voices that call out, “Follow Me!” He also calls out, “Follow Me,” but His voice alone has the authority and power of Heaven behind it. This claim to be the only voice with the authority of heaven behind it is backed by evidence. This evidence is from a number of sources. While many sources could be listed, I will mention only four. First, history provides evidence. Second, creation provides evidence. Third, reason provides evidence. And fourth, people provide evidence.
However, even with the abundance of evidence, much confusion exists. This is explained to us in the Bible when John says:
Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this, we know that the last hour has come. (1 John 2:18 NLT)
The confusion exists because of the spirit of antichrist that is in the world. In 1 John 4:3, John repeats his warning about the antichrist and adds to it saying:
But if someone claims to be a prophet and does not acknowledge the truth about Jesus, that person is not from God. Such a person has the spirit of the Antichrist, which you heard is coming into the world and indeed is already here. (1 John 4:3 NLT)
In this second passage about the antichrist, we see that the spirit of antichrist is “indeed already here.”
It is important to make a distinction between Antichrist, the person, and the spirit of antichrist. Let’s look at 1 John 2:18 again.
Dear children, the last hour is here. You have heard that the Antichrist is coming, and already many such antichrists have appeared. From this we know that the last hour has come. (1 John 2:18 NLT)
Notice, it says, “You have heard the Antichrist is coming...” In this case, “the Antichrist” is singular and is referring to a unique individual. However, as the text continues, it says, “...many such antichrists have appeared.” In this second case, “antichrists” is plural and refers to many such or of like nature. The spirit or nature of antichrist is found in the name, antichrist. “Anti” which means “over against, opposite, instead of,” and “Christ” which means “God’s Anointed One.” The confusion exists then because many would be “instead of” Christ. In other words, many would stand in His place.
Jesus warned us that this would happen. When speaking to the Jewish people and their leaders, Jesus used the illustration of a shepherd and said:
I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber! (John 10:1 NLT)
In this passage, those who would be in the place of Christ are termed “thieves and robbers.” These are said to “sneak over the wall.”
Then Jesus gives some clarifying teaching. He says:
I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who came before me were thieves and robbers. But the true sheep did not listen to them. Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved. They will come and go freely and will find good pastures. (John 10:7-9 NLT)
As has been noted, Jesus’ is the only voice with the authority of Heaven. Now we see Jesus stating that He is the gate for the sheep. He specifies that the true sheep do not listen to the thieves and robbers. However, the thieves and robbers sneak over the wall posing as shepherds. These are voices that call for attention, but Jesus said the true sheep do not listen to them.
Beware of false prophets who come disguised as harmless sheep but are really vicious wolves. (Matthew 7:15 NLT)
Of all the many voices calling for attention, which do you listen to?
Do you know the voice of the Savior?
The leaders of the Jews during Jesus’ time were controlled by the spirit of antichrist. They confronted Jesus on many occasions. One such incident is recorded for us in John 10:22-27.
It was now winter, and Jesus was in Jerusalem at the time of Hanukkah, the Festival of Dedication. He was in the Temple, walking through the section known as Solomon’s Colonnade. The people surrounded him and asked, “How long are you going to keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.” Jesus replied, “I have already told you, and you don’t believe me. The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name. But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep. My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:22-27 NLT)
In this confrontation, we get a glimpse of the conflict of voices, the voice of antichrist or the voice of Christ. We see the reference Christ makes to evidence. He says, “The proof is the work I do in my Father’s name.”
Jesus said, “Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.” (John 10:7) He offered many convincing proofs to back up such a statement. But, there was a heart problem. He says, “But you don’t believe me because you are not my sheep.”
Do you want to be one of His sheep?
A sheepfold is a place of safety. The shepherd guides and protects the sheep. In this illustration, we are all sheep. The question is who we will follow not whether or not we are sheep. The Bible tells us “All we like sheep have gone astray.” (Isaiah 53:6) The voice we choose to follow is a matter of life and death; consider that false prophets are like ravenous wolves. Jesus promises, “Those who come in through me will be saved.”
In John 10:27, Jesus gives three marks of His sheep. If we have these marks, we will know that we are His sheep, and we will also know which voices to listen to.
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
The first mark of His sheep is that they “listen to His voice.”
In John 10:5, He says,
They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice. (John 10:5 NLT)
Do you listen to His voice? He says:
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29 NLT)
I fear lest by listening to the many voices in the world around us, we should fail to enter into His rest. There are practical steps each of us can take to listen to His voice.
First, we can spend time alone with Him each day. There are things that we make time for each day. We shower, and we eat each day. We are too busy not to make time to be alone with Jesus. Working, living and rushing about life without making time to be alone with Jesus is like working, living and rushing about without taking time to eat. Either one leads to death.
The second practical step we can take to listen to His voice is we can choose carefully both what we listen to and what we read. Books, articles, videos and music that point us to Jesus are plentiful.
The third practical step we can take to listen to His voice is we can choose to be in church, Sunday school and Bible study.
The more we listen to His voice the more familiar it becomes. Then the more the second mark of His sheep enters into our consciousness.
Jesus says the second mark of His sheep is “I know them.”
Do you like to be recognized? How does it make you feel when you get up each morning and your loved one, your spouse, child or parent is glad to see you and says “Good morning,” and hugs you?
Jesus tells a parable about a shepherd with 100 sheep. When the shepherd gathered his sheep at the end of the day, one of them was missing. So, the shepherd left the 99 safe in the fold and went out and searched for the one until he found it. The point of that story is that as His sheep, we are precious to Him. In John 10:11, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (NASB) When Jesus says, “I know them,” He is also saying that He is willing to die for them. Jesus knows His sheep. He is glad to see them in the morning and hug them. He will keep them safe.
Jesus says the third mark of His sheep is “they follow me.”
Do you follow Jesus?
Have you followed Him in baptism?
Have you followed Him in service?
When Jesus called some of His Apostles, He said:
Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. (Matthew 4:19 ESV)
This happens naturally when we follow Jesus. We are like a city set on a hill whose light cannot be hidden. When the Apostles followed Jesus, they had different roles. Peter was the spokesperson. John was the friend. Judas managed the money, and so on. When we follow Jesus, it does not mean that we all serve in the same way. Some serve by giving, some by working and others by teaching. However, everyone has a place. All Jesus’ sheep follow Him.
Of all the voices calling out, “Follow me,” which have you chosen to follow? If you have decided to follow Jesus’ voice, these three things will mark your life:
- You will listen to His voice.
- He knows you.
- You will follow Him.