My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
Have you been paying attention this morning? Have you been listening for God’s Word to you today? Parts of the Scriptures have been read, songs based on these sung, prayers prayed and confessions made; but has any of this really sunk in, have you been listening to Jesus?
The same could be said for you and your mother. How many times was it that you were so absorbed in something, a book, driving, another discussion, that mum told you to do something, but you didn’t listen? Or for mums, how often did you have to tell your kids to clean up before they did it? Mum told you those things because she loved you and because she thought they were good for you. Even if what you are doing right now seems important, it’s still important to listen to your mum.
Now the Pharisees were like kids who thought they were good and better at being good than all the rest. They knew the Old Testament, God’s Word to His people of Israel, far better than you or I do; even in the original languages and the same land. They knew what God had commanded and what He had promised, and they cared about it! They followed God’s command and had parts of Scripture attached to their doorframes and foreheads, they had memorised sections and everyday they sought to obey the teachings given by Moses all those years before. But they were not listening, hearing what God was telling them. When you come to God’s service on Sunday, say amen and thanks be to God, are you listening to what He says to you? When you come home from a hard day at work, take off your shoes, have a shower and sit down to watch the TV; do you listen to the promises Jesus gave you? Or in all your effort in this life do you forget His gifts, zone out of what He is telling you, ignore the Words of the Almighty God of all?
I know for myself, driving to Gilgandra for a visit and a Bible study, both good things, thinking, ‘should I go through the roadworks, or the Mogriguy road; Mogriguy; Ah, there’s a caravan, when can I overtake this? Oh, it’s turning off now, good; here’s another slow car, where’s a good place, I’ll use my car gadgets; here’s one, ok let’s go; past that car, ok what’s the time; good still making good time, … oh yeah, I’m driving up here to bring Jesus Christ’s peace, love and encouragement which I’m only able to give by the strength the Holy Spirit provides, with this body, car, fuel and time that our Heavenly Father has freely given. Why is it so easy to loose sight, or be selectively deaf to Jesus’ voice even when that’s why I’m here!
Jesus still speaks all through our lives, like how we hear mum’s words even when she’s not around. He speaks maybe reminding us of passages of scripture, perhaps through the Christian music we play, by our reading and by others’ advice, through mums, or even those few miraculous times one might here clearly His words to oneself. And He had spoken to those Pharisees, Told them that He is the gate, it is through Jesus that we come to salvation, there is no other way; He told them that He is the good shepherd, the kind, wise ruler of God’s people, who will die for His sheep and rise again by His own authority for you and me. He had shown through the many mighty miracles and fulfilment of the Old Testament prophecies that He is the Messiah, the one to come; but still the Pharisees refused to listen, refused to believe.
And to you He continues to speak, and in His word is your life and freedom. Tabitha heard God’s Word from Peter and received life back in this world (Acts 9:40). And Revelation shows us an image of this eternal life Jesus gives, free from suffering and sin, with Him and all the children of our Heavenly Father (Revelation 7). And to you, God spoke at your baptism, ‘your sins are forgiven’, ‘receive the Holy Spirit’, ‘you are my beloved Son’ daughter, ‘death has no power over you’ (Luke 7:48; John 20:22; Luke 3:22; John 11:25-26). Don’t forget that, you are Jesus’ sheep, you hear His words, believe Him, trust Him and He has saved you giving you eternal life. Those Pharisees refused to listen to what Jesus plainly said to them, refused to believe its truth; they were caught up in trying to do God’s Word, they ignored what He was saying even to their face. Sometimes you and I do the same, caught up in this world, caught up in action, ignoring the words of the one who loves you, who has laid down their life for you. Jesus, your Good Shepherd, has given His entire life for you, for your family, friends, everyone in this wide world. He devotes that life for your life, and from His birth, His death, His resurrection and ascension, now and all the way to the end, He is speaking to you, you are forgiven, you have life eternal with Jesus and go in peace. Amen.
And that peace of God which passes all understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus now and forever. Amen.
Pastor Joseph Graham