Moses said to the Lord, “If your Prescence does not go with us, do not send us up from here.” Exodus 33:15 NIV
When he has brought out all his own, the shepherd goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. John 10:4
The tenth chapter of John, headlined “The Shepherd and His Flock” in my NIV Bible, talks about Jesus as a shepherd, and also a gatekeeper. Indeed He is the Good Shepherd. In verse three the gatekeeper of the area where several flocks are kept has opened the gate for this shepherd. The shepherd calls to the sheep and just his own sheep come out because they know him. Then, time to move to pasture. The shepherd goes first, leading the sheep, who all follow along because they know the shepherd’s voice. It is a dangerous world for sheep, and they need leadership and guidance. They can be stolen, or attacked by predators; they need to be led to good food and water. Sheep need a good shepherd.
In Jesus we have the Good Shepherd. One who knows his sheep, and we sheep know him. Jesus is also compared to the gatekeeper who only lets in the shepherds whose sheep are there. This is what we too have in our Savior Jesus Christ. He knows us. He knew us and died for us long before we were born. Just like the sheep are safe and protected from all the dangers that are out there in the world, so are we as followers of Jesus. Moses was able to talk directly with God, telling Him that they weren’t budging from where they were unless God was with them. Two verses later, God assures Moses that He will always be with the people.
Now, as the sheep, how do we hear the voice of the Shepherd? How can we know it is His voice in this noisy, busy world? All kinds of sales, and long lines at stores as people clamor to buy the latest thing. There is so much activity going on in the Advent season that it is easy to forget that this is a time to anticipate and be ready for the coming of Jesus. Time to listen quietly, meditate on scripture readings, use an Advent calendar to help us focus on the season. Taking a few minutes each day to reflect. Hard as it can be, we can listen for that small still voice of God in the midst of all the world’s distractions.
Good Shepherd, you are present with us. You lead us and speak to us, help us to know your voice. So often we can be deaf and not hear and follow you. Help us listen to you, to be open to your leading, and to be willing to move into action at your inspiration. . Show us how to speak and act on your behalf. Amen.