‘Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.’ Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.

Therefore Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life and have it to the full.

’I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life of the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.

’I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me - just as the Father knows me and I know the Father - and I lay down my life of the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shephered. The reasons my Father loves me is that I lay down my life - only to take it up again. No one takes it from, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.’

The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, ‘He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?’ But others said, ‘There are not the saying of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?’ - John 10:1-21

As of right now this is my favorite passage. I say as of right now because it hasn’t always been. Just recently the Lord continues to speak this over me. Every time I read this passage I replace the word “I” with “Jesus.” And I replace “sheep” with me. Jesus is the good shepherd. Jesus lays his life down for me. Jesus knows me. And I know him. This is for us. He didn’t say that there was an exception or “black” sheep. He calls each of us his sheep. Each and everyone of us. He is our good shepherd. He is the one who guides us, who directs us, who tends to us.

When I first read this passage I got frustrated. I was frustrated because I was jealous that the sheep only knew the voice of their shepherd. It wasn’t fair to me—because in my head there are what seems like millions of voices. I hear my voice, I hear the enemy’s voice, I hear my friend’s voices and I hear my family’s voice. My thoughts are always going and I used to think that I couldn’t hear the Lord’s voice. I used to believe that He wasn’t speaking to me. But He was, He is and He will continue to speak to me because He knows me. He knows all of His sheep. He knows each of us by name. He is not the hired hand who is going to abandon us when trouble strikes. He is not that friend or that sister or that mother who is going to disappoint.

He calls us by name. He leads us. When He brings us into the fullness and freedom that He has for us He goes before us and we follow Him. We can follow Him solely by His voice. No longer do we have to follow a stranger. No longer to we have to follow that lie or that insecurity that we do daily. We have the power to recognize His voice from every other voice. And we have to power to run from the voice of the enemy. I went from being frustrated at this passage to being encouraged by this passage. The Lord showed me that this isn’t just for other people. This isn’t just for everyone else. That He is a good shepherd to me, too. He knows me by name. He calls me by name. And He calls you by name. He knows you.

Lord, I thank you. I thank you that you are the good shepherd. I thank you that we get to be your sheep. I pray that you continue to reveal to us our identity in you. I pray that every other voice in our head would be completely silenced, no matter how loud it seems. I pray that it would be easy to hear you. That we would follow your voice and your voice alone. That we would trust that you aren’t like any other shepherd-that you are the good shepherd. That you go before us. That you will never abandon us. Lord, I pray that this truth would stick. That it would transform the ways that we think and the way we walk. Lord, thank you that you are the shepherd who never leaves us.

- Ashley Gibson