What a gift the Scriptures are! They’re like a personal letter that God himself has written to us. Sometimes when I’m reading a passage from the Old Testament, I think, “Jesus likely read these exact same words.” In one sense, this is not very remarkable. As a good Jew, Jesus prayed from the Hebrew Scriptures every day. And yet here we are two thousand years later being touched by the exact same passages that spoke to him!
The book that Jesus quoted most often in the Gospels is the Book of Psalms. He quotes the psalms at least sixteen times. This Easter season, we want to focus on one particular psalm that is beloved of Jews and Christians alike, Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd (pages 10–15). We want to learn how Jesus applied this to himself when he said, I am the good shepherd (pages 4–9).
Imagine Jesus praying Psalm 23 and then pondering other passages about God shepherding his people (Isaiah 40:9-11; Jeremiah 23:1-8; and Ezekiel 34:11-15). What must it have been like when he heard his heavenly Father calling him to become the Good Shepherd who lays down his life for us, his sheep (John 10:11). Knowing his Father’s will and saying yes to this mission, Jesus was determined to rescue us from the dangers of sin and the evil one. Yes, God had spoken to him through the Scriptures, just as he longs to speak to each of us.
My Sheep Hear My Voice. Sometimes we can become too preoccupied in our prayer with a whole host of racing thoughts. Our worries, our obligations, our schedules, our concern for our loved ones—all these and more can consume our time with the Lord. In a certain way, this is very natural, especially if something troubling is weighing on us. But even then, the Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd, invites us to slow down so that we can hear his voice.
Sheep have a way of becoming familiar with the voice of their shepherd. As they spend time following him, they come to understand his directions. This should be the same for you and me. As we spend time in prayer each day, we should expect to hear Jesus’ voice in the quiet of our hearts. This is why Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27). This isn’t something reserved only for saints. Each one of us is Jesus’ sheep. He treasures every one of us. And he promises that we can hear his voice.
What might the Lord want to say to us? Maybe he wants to tell us, I know you, my child, and you know me (John 10:14). I am close to you every day. I am your Good Shepherd. I promise to protect you from the evil one. Stay close to me. Listen to my voice. I will guide you along right paths (Psalm 23:3). I will never let you go.
This Easter season, brothers and sisters, let’s listen to the voice of the Lord. Let’s be confident that we, his sheep, can hear our shepherd speaking to us each day.
Jeff Smith, President