John 10:1-19 His Voice

“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them.

So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. 11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. 13 He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. 17 For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

19 There was again a division among the Jews because of these words. 20 Many of them said, “He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?” 21 Others said, “These are not the words of one who is oppressed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”

His Voice

I was at a retreat in Gull Lake, MI this last weekend which is why I didn’t post.  At the retreat my wife came in looking for me at breakfast and she couldn’t see me.  I have a whistle for those moments and when she heard the whistle her head turned toward me and she immediately saw me.  I came home last week and whistled as I entered the back door of the house.  My daughter cried, “Daddy!” and turned to run to greet me.  She then slipped and hit her head on the door frame.  I felt quite bad about that.

My family know my whistle.  It illustrates for me something about what Jesus is saying in the passage above.  We should know Jesus’ voice. A familiarity with what sounds like Jesus and what doesn’t sound like Jesus should build up over time.  Would Jesus’ voice tell us to murder someone?  Is that in harmony with our relationship with him?  No.  However, yesterday the Catholic church said that they were wanting to soften their stance toward gays and show them more compassion.  They were issuing a statement affirming the good in same-sex unions whilst saying that Gays may still not be married by the Catholic church.  Christians are divided as to whether that sounds like Jesus.

We have scriptures given to us by God and we should be reading them.  They reveal the nature of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.  Knowing them through divine revelation helps us to discern what impulses and thoughts throughout the day might be from Jesus and which ones might be from ourselves or from a tempter.


Help us to discern your voice in the busyness and clamour of our daily lives.  Lead us next to still waters and let us lay down and rest, assured of your love and protection.


  1. How would the Old Testament inform the local people’s understanding of a shepherd?
  2. How would local shepherds have acted in Bible times?
  3. What does it mean that Jesus is a good shepherd?
  4. How does depression affect our ability to hear Jesus’ voice?
  5. How do you cultivate being able to hear Jesus?

About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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21 Responses to John 10:1-19 His Voice

  1. Janice Lee says:

    1. Many of the patriarchs were shepherds, and King David was a shepherd. The people understood the dangerous work of being a shepherd. A good shepherd was wiling to die protecting his sheep from wild animals.
    2. The local shepherds would have a way for the sheep to recognize their voices as they guided them. Sheep are really dumb animals, so they would have to protect them and make sure they don’t go astray.
    3. Jesus has our best interest in mind. He provides for us and loves us so much that He willingly died for us.
    4. Depression restricts our ability to hear Jesus’ voice by focusing inward on ourselves instead of looking to Him.
    5. I cultivate being able to hear Jesus by submitting myself to His Spirit as I read His Word daily.

  2. Sara Cavitt says:

    1) Many people were shepherds, so they understood and were familiar with shepherding.
    2) They would have protected, watched over, and guided their sheep.
    3) It means that Jesus watches over us and protects us. He lay His live down for us, His sheep.
    4) Depression causes a rift between the hearing of Jesus’ voice, because the focus is on one’s own struggles rather than on Jesus.
    5) I hear Jesus through the reading of His Word, prayer, through worship, fellowship in the Church and through godly people speaking into my life.

  3. Kathleen says:

    As our shepherd, Jesus watches over, protects, guides, and cares for us. I personally think that depression can increase our tendency to hear the voice of Jesus. It is in the darkest times of my life that I strive to hear his voice the most. I realize I cannot rely on my own strength so I seek him out more. I cultivate being able to hear Jesus through worship, being still, and reading his word. I also feel like I connect with God through nature. I love to walk about in the woods or by a stream to pray and be still.

  4. Lacy says:

    1. A shepherd may have reminded them of King David.
    2. I don’t know much about ancient Jewish shepherds, but I have heard that they lived separate from society, their lives totally devoted to the care of their sheep.
    3. Jesus is the ideal caretaker of all of his people’s needs.
    4. Depression, in my experience, turns a person inward. He feels as if he is sinking deeper and deeper inside himself and his own hurt and darkness, until it feels like too much effort to listen for and respond to Jesus’ voice.
    5. The better you get to know Jesus in Scripture, the more you will be able to recognize his voice.

  5. Ed says:

    Great Prayer, I needed that. To Sheppard was an easy job but to protect and die for them you needed a strong caricature and self preservation depending on the danger at hand. Jesus gave it all he could as we all know to save us all which I am speechless and in awe. This teaching was loud and clear because I’ve learned to understand it in many ways over the years. Depression does distort our focus on God and the listening for the promptings. It slows down the learning process. Nothing you don’t already know but thanks for reading. I’m going to pray this prayer a few more times.

  6. Jenna says:

    1. The original 12 sons of Israel were shepherds, as was David. They had Psalms like Psalm 23 that directly reference God as a Shepherd!
    2. Shepherds kept their sheep in pens at night and laid in front of the entrance, so that anyone seeking to steal the sheep had to go through them – in that sense, it isn’t a contradiction for Jesus to call Himself the “Shepherd” and “Door.”
    3. Jesus leads and guides us and has our best at heart – He cares about us and wants to protect us.
    4. Depression, or anytime when we’re more focused on our problems than Jesus, hinders us from hearing God’s voice because we are more focused on our problems than on Him.
    5. I try to keep consistent in my quiet time that I can stay listening to God through His Word.

  7. Sarah Deurbrouck says:

    1. How would the Old Testament inform the local people’s understanding of a shepherd?
    Good question. As Jenna said above, maybe they would think of many of the Kings of Israel such as David, who started out as a shepherd.
    2. How would local shepherds have acted in Bible times?
    I am sure it was a lonely life. Think of Luke 2, they sat out in the fields day and night and watched their sheep. They would protect their flock from any harm.
    3. What does it mean that Jesus is a good shepherd?
    He watches over us. We follow him and look to him for protection and direction.
    4. How does depression affect our ability to hear Jesus’ voice?
    We don’t think any good can come from anything or that it’s worth it. We choose not to hear God’s voice.
    5 How do you cultivate being able to hear Jesus?
    It takes time in prayer and time in His Word.

  8. Beth Coale says:

    In chapel today, Dr. Nyquist talked about how there is a sort of mixed metaphor in the Bible – God is a Shepard (as the Father?) and also a lamb (as the Son?).
    When we get depressed, we tend to turn to things that make it worse rather than turning to God. We have to keep choosing to go against our nature and look to God.

  9. Rachel says:

    Shepherds care for their sheep, guide them, rescue them, and make sure their needs are met-even grooming them! Depression makes it hard to hear anything past my own pain. I can’t see that God is near or caring for me because I am hurting so deeply. I often get the idea that my heart is closed to even allowing the possibility for hope. Most days it is hard to hear God’s voice. Some days, however, I know he is with me. He is constant though I am blind.

    • Plymothian says:

      I see that you are hurting so deeply. Is there anything that I can do? It is hard to walk through the darkness and keep the faith. I respect your efforts.

  10. tim pruiett says:

    How would the Old Testament inform the local people’s understanding of a shepherd? The role and the terminology of a shepherd would have been completely understood this.
    What does it mean that Jesus is a good shepherd? He takes care of us and looks out for us.
    How do you cultivate being able to hear Jesus? By being in His word and prayer with Him.

  11. karas says:

    This topic of hearing God’s voice seems to be coming up a lot (hm… something to pay attention to, perhaps). I’ve heard about it in chapel, in mission’s conference, and in the book of John. I feel like busy-ness and self-absorption are the biggest deterrents to me hearing God’s voice. It helps for me to take time to intentionally meditate and pray and listen to what God has to say.

  12. Mary says:

    Professor Worrall – Ok, I went off on a tangent. I don’t even remember what caused me to go back to Romans 1. I think I was looking for the context of a later verse and decided to start all over at the beginning. Thus began a several hour study that I did not have time for (but that I thoroughly enjoyed). So, this will be posted as a part 1 and 2 over the course of 2 days. Here is part 1.

    1) Big Idea: Contrast between the righteous and the unrighteous.

    – Righteous (vs. 16-17): To those who believe, God’s righteousness is revealed (to and through them), and they receive life (meaning spiritual rebirth, resulting in abundant quality now and in eternity)
    – Unrighteous (vs. 18-32): To those who suppress the truth, God’s wrath is revealed, and they receive death (they are already spiritually dead, their quality of life is poor, and will be even worse in eternity)

    2) Key Verse: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, ‘The righteous shall live by faith.’” (Rom. 1:16-17)

    1) Gospel: 1 Cor. 15 defines the gospel as this: just as God promised through the Scriptures, Christ died for our sins, he was buried, and he was raised on the third day.

    – This good news was then spread by Jesus himself: he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve, to a group of 500+ brothers, James, the apostles, then to Paul. This was a free gift of God’s grace, not as payment to those who deserved/earned it. Those who received this gift in faith were changed both inwardly and outwardly and went on to tell others the good news, and more believed.
    – Side question: Within this group, who are Jews and who are Gentiles? (“…to the Jew first and also to the Greek” – Rom. 1:16)

    2) Summary: Because of God’s righteousness, and the power of the Holy Spirit, both which we received when we placed our trust in Christ, we will live abundantly/spiritually now (formerly, we were spiritually dead in our sin) and will continue to live abundantly/spiritually in eternity (after physical death). This internal spiritual rebirth affects our external actions, due to the fact that we were instantly transformed into a new creation upon receiving Christ in faith (2 Cor. 5:17), and also continuously being transformed into the image of Christ as we conform ourselves to the will of God as revealed both through Scripture and through the incarnate Lord (Rom. 12; 1 Pet. 1:13-25). It is this internal transformation by the power of the Holy Spirit that causes us to do the will of God, and also to proclaim with our mouths that Jesus is Lord (Deut. 30:14; Mt. 12:34; Lk. 6:45; Rom. 10:5-13).

  13. Ashley says:

    Lately I have been reminded out lifeless “life” without Jesus is. We are left to seek pleasure from things that satisfy for a flickering moment. There are many things to enjoy in this world, but they leave us ultimately empty and searching for more. All that is beautiful is a small shadow of the intimacy that we can have with Christ. I hold on to the verse that says “I have come that they may have life.” I am overwhelmed with gratitude that Christ did not just come to give life, but that he came to give it abundantly. Jesus Christ himself is abundant life, and by partaking of him do we embrace life in its fullness.

  14. nataliaria says:

    Those who were hearing Jesus’ words in this passage had the background knowledge of the Old Testament, and all of its references to shepherds, to shape their understanding of Jesus’ message. They were familiar with King David’s early years spent herding sheep, as well as the Psalms that identified God as a Shepherd.

    I am unsure of the exact procedures of ancient shepherds, but I imagine their jobs were much like those that Jesus describes here- they were familiar with their sheep, and were dedicated to their care to the point of risking their lives in protection of the sheep.

    When Jesus identifies Himself as THE good shepherd, I interpret that to mean that He is the BEST shepherd. He fulfills the traditional role of the shepherd, and then goes beyond that. His sheep know His voice, and they also know and are known by Him intimately. A good shepherd protects his sheep when someone attempts to do them harm; Jesus will give His very life for the sheep.

    During the time that struggled with depression in high school, it was like being in a cold and closing box. My mother advised me to keep doing the devotionals and prayer that I had been so faithful in, in the time before the rug was pulled from under me by the adoption of my two sisters. So I did. I read passages over and again, trying to hear anything, desperately trying to stretch my heart wider, or soften it, or still it, that I might feel any semblance of the presence of the Lord that I used to feel. But for that time, I heard nothing and felt nothing but a shrinking emptiness sucking myself right out of my chest.

    There are many times that I have heard the voice of God speaking very clearly into my life and heart. Almost all of these have occurred while I was praying, or writing in my prayer journal. I cherish the times I have been able to interact with Him and converse with His heart and His will for me life. A second way that I find myself hearing His voice is in the quiet uneasiness or guidance in one way or another as I go about my daily life. This voice, graciously, often becomes stronger in times that I am most lost or confused, and for that I am thankful.

  15. Dominic shortridge says:

    Jesus, a master in the art of the metaphor, but in this case his illustration couldn’t have been more true. For a shepherd to have heard that Jesus was the Good Shepherd would have truly sparked strong feelings of comfort and trust. A real shepherd would have known the care, the time, the work, the commitment, the patience and the authority that it takes to lead a flock, so that comparison would have been greatly understood by them.
    Additionally, for someone to be able to hear the voice of Jesus would mean that they have to spend intimate time with him and be able to discern his voice from one of a false teacher.
    My wife and I went to the Open House Chicago event and stumbled into the Church of Christian Science and that was a true and sad instance of when the false voice of another was mistaken to be the voice of Christ. How easy it is to be led astray by a false teacher, and how greatly does Christ yern for us to follow him.

  16. Bethany says:

    Depression is something that consumes us and makes us think of ourselves. Hearing God’s voice comes from thinking less of ourselves and concentrating on what we can do for others. I think this is why it is so important for believers who struggle with depression to go to christian counseling because instead of concentrating on their self-healing, we need to have a others focused heart. I think that hearing God is such a problem for my generation because we tend to keep ourselves so incredibly busy. It is uncomfortable for us to sit still and just listen or just silently be with God.

  17. Nick says:

    I experienced a bout with depression in my lifetime during my late middle school/early high school years. During that time I often felt abandoned by God, especially in times that I called out to Him. I found myself frequently asking him questions that started with “Why would you do this to me…” or “What did I do to deserve…” I felt abandoned because I never got answers to those questions from God, and I did not feel his presence in my life. What I now understand is that just because God does not answer my questions directly right when I ask them, He may be answering them in different ways and that I need to be open to all the ways that he may choose to communicate to me.

  18. Amy McCashen says:

    Jesus is my good shepherd. This means that he is with me and for me. The shepherd never leaves the side of his sheep. I remember when I was young I wanted to be a shepherd. I thought that it would be so much fun to be outside all day- just me, God, and the sheep. I loved the idea of sleeping under the stars and fighting off the wolves when they would come around. However, now I know that it is a lot harder job than I imagined. It takes love, commitment and strength. I am so glad that Jesus is my shepherd and that I know I have nothing to worry about because he is watching over me.

  19. Rebekah Thompson (Bekah) says:

    1. shepherding was a very common thing and I’m sure if you were traveling from one town to another you would pass several shepherds and their flocks.
    2. They would have their focus and concentration on their flock
    3. That he watches us constantly and is always there to protect us and that he values us each as individuals and will go out of his way to save one of us.
    4. When you are depressed you listen to the voices inside your head and become very selfish and bring self pity on yourself that you don’t have time to hear God speak to you because you are too busy speaking to yourself all of the horrible sad things.
    5. by reading his word and speaking with him

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