My sheep listen to my voice; I know them and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. John 10:27-28
Christmas is a time for joy. It’s a celebration of the Father’s gift of love to his people in the form of his only son, Jesus Christ. We think of a tiny baby in a manger, the lighting of Advent candles, spending time with loved ones. We hear the story of the shepherds, whom the angels told the good news of the birth of the Christ child, and the wise men who traveled from the east following his star. As we hear the familiar words of the Christmas story, do we spend time thinking of our own journey to Christ, how we follow his star? It is not likely that a host of heavenly angels will appear to us to tell us exactly where to find the Savior, nor is it likely that a star will appear in the sky to lead us in the direction we are being called. What we are told in John 10 is that Jesus is the good shepherd that lays down his life for his sheep.
Sheep are interesting creatures. They are social animals that live mostly in flocks and have very good hearing. They have natural tendencies to congregate close to other members of their flock and to follow a leader. The leader could simply be the the first one to move, but they can learn the voice of the shepherd that cares for them and will follow the shepherd’s voice. Sheep also have a natural tendency to panic and flee. A good shepherd feeds his sheep, keeps his flock calm, leads them down safe pathways, protects them from wolves and other predators. Jesus calls himself the good shepherd several times in John 10 and throughout scripture. His children are referred to as his sheep. And like sheep, we tend to congregate and be rather social, follow a leader, and panic and flee from anything we perceive as uncomfortable or dangerous. The question we must ask ourselves as sheep is do we only follow these natural instincts or do we listen and learn the voice of the good shepherd, leaning on him to care for us? Do we follow the first person to move or do we follow the good shepherd?
Our faith journey in this world is all about listening for the voice of Jesus and following where he leads. He never tells us that our path will be easy, but that he will never leave us and no one can ever snatch us away from him. His gift to those that follow him is eternal life. As we walk through this Christmas season, we can choose to follow his star, to learn to listen for the voice of the good shepherd, to journey where he leads knowing he will be with us always.
Dear Lord, help me to listen and to follow where you lead. Amen.
Tommi Hamilton, Launch Team