“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. 2 But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. 5 A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” 6 This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.
7 So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. 8 All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. 9 I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.
Sheep are funny animals. We often think of them as not being very intelligent and somewhat foolish. The movie Babe did not do much for the image of sheep. A shepherd will tell you that sheep are not stupid animals as far as barnyard animals go. But sheep do have a problem. They cannot see very well. Their hearing, however, is quite good. They appear foolish to us. They cannot see that gate is open, so they won’t go through it. The shepherd must take one of them and walk it through while calling the rest to follow. The sheep can discern his voice and they will follow him.
This passage used to bother me. I wondered how I should recognize Jesus’ voice. I had not heard him preach like those first Christians. But Jesus smiled upon my naivete. Little did I know that I was hearing the rich voice of my Savior in all the voices who spoke to me of Him. My mother and father were the first ones, teachers, friends, colleagues, spouse, and even my children sometimes serve Him this way. I know his voice.
John says that the disciples did not understand Jesus’ figure of speech. Were they dense? This is not hard. No, they had not received the Spirit yet. This makes no sense without the Spirit. You have been blessed with that Spirit. Hear and understand these words. Your Shepherd risen from the dead calls you now and on the last day, and whether you are still alive or have died before his coming, you will hear that voice and follow him, as you follow him now. Jesus, the Good Shepherd, has risen from the dead that he might tend you, His flock. Therefore, have no fear, little flock. In Christ the Father has chosen to give you the kingdom. He keeps you in his love forever and stoops down to heal you, uplift you, and restore you. He stays close beside you. (LSB #735)