We see lots of sheep grazing on the hillsides as we travel through Italy. The other day we were driving from Palermo to Catania when we saw a flock of sheep on top of a hill running. It caught our attention because they were running across the top of the hill to the other side. Usually they are just grazing and we hardly see them move. We watched with interest as they reached the top of the hill and then started to slow down and begin grazing again. That’s when we noticed the shepherd on the other side of the hill watching to make certain all his sheep were accounted for. The sheep were out of his sight and he had called to them and they came running to him. As soon as they were under the watchful eye of the shepherd, they began safely grazing again. It reminded us of a scripture in John.
. . . he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers. (John 10:4-5)
The sheep knew the voice of their shepherd. When he called, they recognized his voice and came quickly. They did not hesitate to follow his voice because it was the voice of safety, the voice of someone they trusted. They were obedient and because of their obedience they were safe. They knew they could trust their shepherd.
When the shepherd called to his sheep, they hastened to follow his command. When the Good Shepherd calls to us, do we hasten to follow his voice, or do we ignore the voice and go astray and find ourselves in perilous circumstances? When the Good Shepherd calls, do we recognize his voice? Have we strayed so far away that we can’t hear the voice anymore? Do we willingly choose not to follow his commands?
The Lord has promised us that he will keep us safe if we follow him. If we choose to follow other paths, we could become prey to wolves who would willingly lead us astray.
The scriptures tell us:
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep.
The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. (John 10:11-14)
We should all be like the sheep on top of the hill who were hastening to be under the safe, watchful eye of their shepherd. We should listen to the good shepherd and recognize his voice so that when he calls we will be willing to hasten to his side. We should be known of Him.