walk in the word
To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. —John 10:3-4
The way someone uses your name means a lot. Hearing a good friend say your name after a long time apart is a sweet experience. When your children call you “Daddy” or “Mommy,” or your spouse whispers their favorite endearing name for you, there’s a sense of everything being right with your world. So when Jesus says of Himself, “he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out,” we can be certain He really knows us.
Think of today’s passage as a verbal snapshot in an album of pictures Jesus gives to illustrate His role as the Good Shepherd. It is part of a longer passage where He talks about the intimate nature of His relationship with the sheep in His flock—us. In verses 3-4, He describes several aspects of shepherding four-hooved sheep that parallel the way He handles His two-legged flock. Both kinds of sheep recognize their shepherd’s voice. Both respond to their shepherd’s call. And in both cases, the shepherd does the leading and the flock follows.
We see a heartwarming example of how Jesus knows His sheep in the way He pursued and restored Peter. Several weeks after Peter’s denial, Jesus approached him with these moving words: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15). Notice what Jesus called him: “Simon, son of John.” Jesus had given him the nickname Peter, but this moment was more serious than a nickname. The Lord didn’t want Peter to miss this crucial time of restoration, so He used his formal name.
In today’s passage, Jesus described Himself as the Good Shepherd and affirmed His familiarity with each of us. Every time the Holy Spirit interrupts our lives with words of love or conviction, opening our eyes to our sin and His grace, we can be sure He uses our name. He addresses us personally as our Shepherd. There’s no uncertainty in God’s approach. He always knows who He is dealing with. He knows everything about us and everything we need.
If you have never acknowledged the reality that Jesus knows you by name and loves you as only the Good Shepherd could, take time to let that sink in. Thank Him for calling you, leading you, and rescuing you when you wander off. Make it your intention to know Him better every day.
Lord, help me read Your Word with an attitude of attention. Keep my heart, mind, and ears open to You so I will hear Your voice and know it without a doubt. Make it as familiar as an audible voice that I can recognize and listen to over any other noise. Thank You for knowing my name and everything else about me—and still calling me to be part of Your flock. I long to follow where You lead. In Jesus’ name, amen.
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