My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27)
In the Bible we read that Jesus said His people would recognize His voice. I find this to be a wonderful promise. If I am a believer, a true follower of Christ, it is evidence that I’ve already heard His voice. Furthermore, I have the great privilege of being one who continually hears His voice. Connect the dots!
You don’t follow Christ because you’re so wise and have above average spiritual sensitivity. You follow Him because He chose to speak to your heart. Many believers would never dare to claim that they have heard God’s voice. But Jesus said that all of His sheep know His voice and follow Him.
The word for “voice” in the Greek text is phone. We get our English words “phone” and “phonetics” from this root word. It literally means a sound or tone. Sheep learn to recognize the tone of the shepherd’s voice. These dumb animals don’t learn an actual human language, like Hebrew or English. But they do learn to recognize the tone or sound of their Shepherd’s voice.
All of my five children learned to recognize the tone of my voice before they learned the English language! If a stranger spoke they would not respond, but if mommy or daddy spoke there would be a different response. They were familiar with our tone. Jesus’ voice has a distinct tone as well. It’s not an audible tone but a spiritual one. The tone of someone’s voice often conveys even more than the actual words they are saying. Actually, I can say one thing with the literal words I am using and convey the very opposite with my tone! Condemnation, shame, disgust, or kindness, love, and patience can all be conveyed with the tone of the voice. The tone of a voice is usually a reflection of the emotions and character behind the voice.
Have you recognized that your preconceived ideas and prejudices about someone can often cloud your hearing with a tone that’s not really there? If I feel deep down in my heart that you dislike me and have something against me, I will often misinterpret your tone. You may say kind words but I will not be able to receive them because of the tone I think I perceive. This is usually due to unresolved conflict, misunderstanding, or hurts from the past. Many believers read the inspired words of Scripture and somehow miss the tone. They still feel alienated from God emotionally. Their minds might assent to concepts of the Scripture but their hearts somehow don’t bear witness to it. For instance, they read: Behold what manner of love the Father has given unto us that we should be called the sons of God; and such we are.” (1 John 3:1) They read this and yet feel nothing. They understand the “letter” of the word but miss the spirit of it. The proper tone is somehow either not conveyed or it is misinterpreted through the fog of their unbelief, sense of personal failure, shame, resentment, unforgiveness, etc.
But Jesus’ voice is never condescending to His sheep. Condemnation and shame are not part of His tone. His voice is the good voice. His voice is the merciful one, the kind and forgiving one. He lays down His life for His sheep. He has died to redeem them and cover their shame. His tone imparts an endearing sense of safety and compassion and drives out fear and rejection. Even if He is disciplining us, it is because of His great love for us.
Would you say you are hearing the Good Shepherd’s tone when you read or listen to His Word? Why do you think this is? Think about it. Ask the Father to give you light on this issue.