When we look throughout history that God interacted with humanity, He left them inside the human culture as it was at the time. The Old Testament is Israel’s history for the most part captured by narrators and prophets of God revealing through their particular set of glasses what was happening. When God came to Gideon and helped to rescue Israel, Gideon didn’t suddenly invent toaster ovens.
No! God entered purposefully into critical junctures in human history but He never violated the development of humanity at that particular point. In other words, some of the characteristics we ascribe to God from those stories were Him acting inside humanity’s culture at the time preserving a redemptive history that would in the end save us all. But Jesus is an even greater and more clear revelation of who the Father is to us right now. John then offers us Jesus teaching on The Great Shepherd over His sheep.
John 10 Jesus says, “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! … 3 The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out…and they follow him because they know his voice…”
To hear the sound of The Shepherds voice means that he’s close by in proximity to you and your current state of life. Does that sound like the stern angry father? The Shepherd has a personal attachment to the sheep and the sheep themselves recognize the voice of the Shepherd. The Shepherd calls the sheep by name. He knows them and stays close to the sheep in order to guide them.
Jesus is the Word, the message and picture of God Himself and brings enlightenment to our own inner lives and experiences. The real sheep hear His voice and start following. A sheep cannot cognitively get their minds around the complexities of life, but it knows the Shepherds voice. Knowing that voice is far more than a cognitive knowing it’s an experiential knowing.
The Shepherd Jesus talks about is good. This may be the hardest thing to believe about Jesus, because we are often more inclined to believe He uses a whip instead of a whisper. The Thief uses distortion to steal away your complete trust in the Shepherd. The thief distorts the whisper of love into the whips of a stern and angry religion.
A demonic confusion is at work which seeks to tear down the “vocabulary” of God at work in our lives. It seeks to destroy our confidence in the goodness and mercy of God toward us. His sheep He will guide and correct but always by his voice and never by the whip. Sheep are not driven like cattle – but led by voice commands. And Jesus tells them that “the gentiles” “the outsiders” are also a part of His sheep/people.
16 I have other sheep, too, that are not in this sheepfold. I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock with one shepherd. 17 “The Father loves me because I sacrifice my life so I may take it back again. 18 No one can take my life from me. I sacrifice it voluntarily. For I have the authority to lay it down when I want to and also to take it up again.
The enemy of your soul has a motive of seeking to make you fearful, or steal the Word spoken to you, or destroy your confidence in The Word. He’ll say: “God’s angry with you” or emphasize the austerity of God. But Jesus came to show us what God was really like!
27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one can snatch them away from me, 29 for my Father has given them to me, and he is more powerful than anyone else. No one can snatch them from the Father’s hand. 30 The Father and I are one.”31 Once again the people picked up stones to kill him.
When you hear the Father speak to you in your heart do you ascribe a tonal quality to it? If so, is He always angry? Stern? Perhaps start realizing the Father is the one who gave His Son for us, and Jesus stayed an ministered long enough on the earth so that we could get an idea of just how great and loving our heavenly Father really is!
Practice: Take time today to address the Father and think about His nature and ask Him to teach you by His Spirit and deepen your understanding of His reckless love given toward you. Begin to worship Him from a place of believing He really is this good.