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Hearing the Voice of Jesus (John 10:22-27)

July 31, 2022 Speaker: Bryce Morgan Series: Our Bible Reading Plan (2021-2022)

Topic: One Truth: Your Word is Truth Passage: John 10:22–27

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Children's Lesson [click here]

I. Still Hearing His Voice?

Two thousand years ago, many people heard the voice of Jesus, from an invalid in Galilee and a woman in Samaria to a Roman governor and the entire Jewish council in Jerusalem. In all likelihood, tens of thousands of people heard Jesus speak over the three and half years during which he ministered, from people far away in a crowd to those who were up close and personal.

But what about today? Do people still hear the voice of the resurrected Jesus today? Consider the following accounts:

  • While laying on an acupuncturist's table ten years ago Fiona Finn said Jesus spoke to her and that the experience was proof she had (and I quote) “like Deepak Chopra... achieved Christ consciousness”. 

  • In 1998, when she was four years old, art prodigy Akiane Kramarik claims to have seen Jesus in a vision, a vision in which he told her to draw and paint her visions. Her painting of Jesus, entitled “Prince of Peace”, completed when she was only eight, sold a few years ago for $850,000. 

  • In 2018 North Carolina pastor Bryan Finely, during a sermon arguing for the ordination of women, described how Jesus had recently spoken to him and said, “I’m coming for my daughters.” 

  • Last year, a women in Taita, Kenya claimed that Jesus spoke to her in a dream telling her not to take her children to school because “school is evil and against the will of God”. 

  • Also in Africa, but back in 2015, a Nigerian Bishop, Oliver Doeme, described how Jesus had appeared to him and communicated that praying the rosary would soon bring down the terrorist group Boko Haram. 

  • And if we go back just a little further, some of you may remember how televangelist Oral Roberts claimed in 1980 that he had been visited by a 900-foot-tall Jesus who told him that He would lift his financial problems and that his City of Faith medical center would indeed be built.

Now based on those interesting, or in some cases, questionable, or in some cases, seriously misguided examples, you might be skeptical about people hearing the voice of Jesus today. But let me reassure you: wonderfully, Jesus has spoken, is speaking, and will continue to speak in and to our modern world. We can be sure of that. The question is not “Are people hearing the voice of Jesus today?” The question should be, “How are people hearing the voice of Jesus today? And what exactly is He saying?” Turn with me, if you haven't already, to John 10.

 

II. The Passage: “My Sheep Hear My Voice” (10:22-27)

Look with me at John 10, verses 22-27. I'd encourage you to look for... no, listen for what this passage tells us about hearing the voice of Jesus...

At that time the Feast of Dedication took place at Jerusalem. It was winter, [23] and Jesus was walking in the temple, in the colonnade of Solomon. [24] So the Jews gathered around him and said to him, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.” [25] Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name bear witness about me, [26] but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. [27] My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.

Have you heard, at some point, the phrase “Christmas in July”? Well, this passage, for us today, is actually Hanukkah in July. Hanukkah is the same “winter” celebration we read about here in verse 22, “the Feast of Dedication”. But notice what's happening during this particular Hanukkah. Jesus is once again engaged in a conversation with a group of Jews who are questioning him or quarreling with him. As we saw in Our Bible Reading Plan this past week, that happens a lot in John chapters 6-10. Sometimes that group is “the crowd” (referred to eleven times in John 6-7), and at other times John simply refers to “the Jews” (a term used twenty-one times in John 6-10). In many cases “the Jews” refers specifically to the Jewish religious leaders, but that's not always the case. The context often helps us clarify the term.

I point all this out because John is clearly presenting (and deepening) a contrast at this point in his Gospel; a contrast concerning how different people responded to the voice of Jesus. Let's consider that contrast as we think about the bigger/broader idea of hearing the voice of Jesus. Consider with me four ideas presented here about the voice of Christ: first, we learn that his voice is a deeply-familiar voice, second, that his voice is a heart-quickening voice, third, that his voice is a life-giving voice, and finally, fourth, that his voice is a far-reaching voice. Let's begin by focusing in on verses 26 and 27, where we learn the voice of Jesus is...

 

1. A Deeply-Familiar Voice (10:26-27; 3-5)

Look at the terms indicating familiarity there: (v. 27) “My sheep... I know them...”. But in verse 26 we find a contrast: “you do not believe because you are not among my sheep”. Verse 24 makes clear that these Jews were asking Jesus to clearly identify himself as the Messiah, the coming king from David's line. Though Jesus has explicitly made that claim in Samaria (4:26), verse 25 of chapter 10 reminds us that he was regularly pointing his listeners to his works, to the miracles he performed, to the signs he presented, and how they powerfully supported the things he had already revealed about his divine identity. But overall, their response was continued unbelief. Why? Because they were not familiar to him, nor he to them.

If you move backwards in this passage to vs. 3-5, we find a fuller treatment of this familiarity...

To him [the “shepherd of the sheep”, v. 2] the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. [4] When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. [5] A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”

So the shepherd is deeply familiar with his flock, and they with him.... “they know his voice”.

As Jesus would later tell Pontius Pilate, “Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.” (18:37) But what does it mean to be “of the truth”? And who are these “sheep”, those that listen to the voice of Jesus? That leads us to our next point, that the voice of Jesus is...

 

2. A Heart-Quickening Voice (10:27; 4, 16)

I see Jesus making that point in 10:27. How do these sheep respond to His voice? “They follow [him]”. We saw that same response in 10:4. But how does this imagery actually translate into real life? I think all of us can picture sheep following a shepherd. But what does it look like for real people to follow a real Lord; a real King? To answer that question we need to remember the focus of this whole passage.

The issue at hand here in 10:22-27 is belief and unbelief, specifically in Jesus as the Christ, the Messiah of God. As Jesus told the Jews in verse 26, “you do not believe because you are not among my sheep”. Wait a minute, the Jews were not “among [his] sheep”? That's not what he's saying. John's Gospel describes many Jews who turned to Jesus in faith. Jesus is talking here about these specific individuals. They did not believe because they were “not among [his] sheep”. Now please don't miss what's being said here, in light of the context. The response of the “sheep” in verse 27 is (in contrast to those in v. 26) a response of faith. They “follow” in faith, that is, following in this context is synonymous with saving faith.

You see, trusting Jesus, following Jesus, does not make them part of this flock. Trusting him, that heart-quickened response of faith, actually indicates that they are already part of his flock. Huh? How could sinful people like us, 'pre-repentence', 'pre-faith', already be part of his flock? Because as John 6 described, we are those given to the Son by the Father. John 6:37–39...

All that the Father gives me will come to me [i.e. they will respond to the Shepherd's voice], and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. [38] For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me. [39] And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing [I.e, no one] of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.

And that language leads us to another point. John also describes how the voice of Jesus is...

 

3. A Life-Giving Voice (5:25)

Take a look at 10:28, the very next verse after our main passage: (Jesus tell us this about his sheep) “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.” This is simply affirming what he said in 6:39, “that I should lose nothing”. But please don't miss how this Shepherd, this “Good Shepherd” (10:14), how his heart-quickening voice leads us to life. You might recall how Jesus promised this same thing in 5:25: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live.”

Whatever you might be tempted to believe, in light of your own inclinations, your own imagination, your own appraisal of the world's lies... genuine life, meaningful life, unshackled life, enduring life (what this Gospel calls “eternal life”) is only found when we turn to Jesus; for only the voice of Jesus can give us life; a life in which we are led in love by him, both now and, one day, into the presence of God. This brings us to a final point. The voice of Jesus is also a...

 

4. A Far-Reaching Voice (10:16)

Look at verse 16 reveals to us these “sheep” belonging to Jesus: “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.” Who are these “other sheep”? What does he mean by “this fold”? Based on other clues in this Gospel, and the consistent witness of so many place in the New Testament, Jesus is talking here about the “fold” of Israel. That means the “other sheep” are the nations; the Gentiles. Just as we heard about in our main passage, among the non-Jewish peoples, there are individuals who belong to the flock of Jesus and there are individuals who do not. The incredible reassurance we discover here in v. 16 is for those who do belong, from these “other sheep”: “I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice.”

 

III. What Does It Mean to 'Hear'?

If you're here this morning, and believe yourself to be a genuine Christian, a true disciple, then according to John 10, you are someone who has heard the voice of Jesus. Stop for a moment. Let that sink in. Be in awe of that. Give thanks for that. You have heard the voice of Jesus.

You see, in contrast to some of the strange claims made today about the the voice of Jesus, as our passage makes clear, we're not ultimately talking about actual sound waves emanating from vocal chords of Jesus of Nazareth. As I mentioned at the outset, huge numbers heard that voice... and continued in their unbelief. No, really hearing the voice of Jesus is about really hearing spiritually. It's about really hearing the gospel, the Good News about who Jesus is and what Jesus has done. That amazing message has drawn in sheep for over 2000 years. Therefore, based on what God has shown us, let me suggest a summary statement: hearing the voice of Jesus is a grace-enabled, wholly-personal embrace of gospel truth that results in eternal life and eternal living.

Grace-enabled”: God has done what we never could do. He gives life to the spiritually dead. He quickens the heart. Therefore, He gets all the glory. Amen? Through this Good News, the voice of Jesus is drawing sheep, men/women, boys/girls, from all over the world. If someone doesn't believe, does that mean he or she is not “among [his] sheep”? Not necessarily. Some who reject the gospel at first will later believe. We just don't know. And we don't need to know. We are simply called to share this Good News, trusting the voice of Jesus to do its/his amazing work.

Wholly-personal”: As Jesus speaks today, he is calling you to trust, not simply that he is Lord over all things, but Lord over you; not simply that the world is condemned for its spiritual rebellion and indifference, but that you are condemned because of your spiritual rebellion and indifference; and that he suffered on the cross, not simply for sin in general, but for your sin; not merely for a general forgiveness, but to cover every single one of your sins. Best of all, he wants you to know, not simply that He is loving, but that he loves you, you specifically. I believe truly embracing these things results from that familiarity, that recognition of Christ's voice. When we, when you hear the gospel, and hear His call, you recognize it as the very thing you've been waiting for all your life. You recognize Him as the one you've been waiting for all your life.

Now you may be thinking, “But what about the situation I'm facing today? What about my ever-present struggle? What about that crossroads? I need to hear the voice of Jesus about these things; these specific things; these unique or uniquely personal things?” Am I telling you this morning that Jesus will not spiritually communicate with you and lead you in those areas?

No. I'm not saying that. What I am saying, what I believe this passage is telling us, is that biblically, Scripturally, hearing the voice of Jesus always begins with the revealed word of God, and specifically the gospel.

Whatever confusing situation you are facing, whatever wound is throbbing inside you, whatever sin is clinging so closely, whatever regret is knocking at your door, whatever spiritual dryness is chaffing you, whatever the burden you are carrying, let Jesus speak to you through the gospel. Listen again to His words about sin, grace, love, forgiveness, peace, belonging, security, identity, eternity. Those who have heard His voice will continue to hear his voice. Do you believe that? And with both feet firmly planted on God's revealed word, which always and ultimately brings us to the gospel, we are then, oftentimes, able to discern the voice of Jesus in the particulars, in the specifics of my life, or your life.

Jesus has spoken, is speaking, and will continue to speak today. Maybe you're hearing his voice for the very first time. Maybe you sense His call even now. If you are, trust Him. Follow Him. Receive the eternal life he died to give you.

Let me close with the words of the Scottish writer and hymnwriter, Horatius Bonar. This is from his song, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say”. Listen and consider if this expresses your own heart, and your own testimony...

I heard the voice of Jesus say,
“I am this dark world's light.
Look unto me; your morn shall rise
and all your day be bright.”
I looked to Jesus, and I found
in him my star, my sun;
and in that light of life I’ll walk
till trav’ling days are done.