(By Heather Marshall)
In the popular singing competition called “The Voice,” they have a “blind audition” where the judges sit with their backs to the contestants as they sing. They do this so they can really focus on the contestant’s voice without other distractions.
Have you ever wondered what the voice of the Lord Jesus sounds like? Similar to the judges on “The Voice,” we can’t see the Lord or even hear His voice audibly but I believe that we can recognize His voice and come to appreciate the beautiful tones and inflections of His voice.
In John 10:2-4 we read about the voice of the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus:
But the one who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t know his voice.
In this passage, we see that the sheep recognize the voice of the shepherd and they come to Him. How does a sheep come to know the voice of the shepherd? I believe it’s as simple as the amount of time spent with the shepherd.
In Bible times, the sheep were with the shepherd for the majority of the day and the night and became familiar with his voice. Similarly, we come to know the voice of the Lord by spending time with Him, reading and meditating on His Word to hear His voice.
Another thought about recognizing our Shepherd’s voice is that we will appreciate its tone and characteristics more when we are really able to focus on it without distractions. In “The Voice” competition, the judges sit with their backs to the singers so they tune out distractions. This way they can focus more on the singer’s voice qualities and inflections.
Consider the sheep in their natural habitat out on the hillside, it is usually a very quiet place. In application to us, if we want to really appreciate and know the voice of the Lord Jesus, we need to resolve to have daily times of quiet meditation on His Word without distractions.
We also read in John 10 about the words that the shepherd is voicing, it says that He calls His own sheep by name. This is such a precious thought - the Lord Jesus knows us and calls us by name.
Your name is an extension of yourself, it’s personal and it’s generally the first way you introduce yourself to someone new. Studies have shown that people feel acknowledged and welcomed if their name is used in an interview or meeting.
I saw a post on Instagram recently that said “The God of a trillion stars knows your name.” Let that sink in, “The God of a trillion stars knows your name”
When we call someone’s name, we get their attention much more acutely than if we use a generic term like “you.” At the dinner table in my house, we’ve instructed our boys to use someone’s name if you want them to pass you something, otherwise, you might be waiting a long time for the thing you requested. So, the Lord knows and uses our names to get our attention and to show us how personal and close he is to us.
Let’s look at three people in the Bible that Jesus called by name and what His voice sounded like in each of these individuals' situations.
Lazarus was dead in the grave for three days when the Lord called him by name. It says in John 11: 43 that Jesus shouted with a loud voice “Lazarus, come forth.” This was a voice of power and authority. He commanded Lazarus to rise from the dead and he did.
In Revelation 1:15 we see the voice of the Lord described as the roar of many waters. The authority and power of the Lord’s voice are available to us today as well. We can use the authority and power of his Word to dispel the lies that the enemy hurls at us. We can also depend on the power of His Word, it's what we lean on in times of uncertainty and trial.
Zaccacheus was searching for Jesus from the vantage point of a tree when Jesus called his name. In Luke 19:5 we read, “When Jesus came by, he looked up at Zacchaeus and called him by name. ‘Zacchaeus!’ he said. ‘Quick, come down! I must be a guest in your home today.”
Jesus knew that Zacchaeus was a tax collector and that he had stolen from his own people in order to become rich. Here we see Jesus’ voice of forgiveness and acceptance. He forgave Zacchaeus of his sin and accepted him and even went into his home for a meal. Zacchaeus’ life was changed and he converted from a chief tax collector to one who would restore what he stole fourfold all because of Jesus’ voice of forgiveness and acceptance.
Jesus knows all about us, too, including all of our faults and failures, and still He graciously forgives and accepts us and calls us by name.
Mary Magdalene was weeping in the garden when she heard her name spoken by Jesus. It was when she heard Him speak her name that she recognized Jesus for who He was. In John 20:16 we read “‘Mary!’ Jesus said, She turned to him and cried out, ‘Rabboni!’” (This is Hebrew for teacher.)
Mary was sorrowful and distraught because of the crucifixion of Jesus three days earlier and now His body appeared to be missing. But when He spoke her name, all sorrow was gone and in its place was joy. This voice was one of comfort and compassion.
We too can know the comforting voice of our Saviour as he works as our faithful high priest who intercedes for us. Jesus taught in the sermon on the mount that “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.” There is no better way to be comforted than by the tender voice of our Lord.
It’s my prayer that we will all become more attuned to the voice of our Savior and appreciate the beautiful tones of His voice - a voice that is powerful, yet forgiving and comforting and so much more. Embrace the truth that this beautiful voice speaks and knows your name. May the words of this well-known hymn encourage each of us to seek His beautiful voice daily.
He speaks, and the sound of his voice is so sweet
The birds hush their singing,
And the melody that He gave to me
Within my heart is ringing.
And He walks with me and He talks with me,
And He tells me I am his own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
-Author: C. Austin Miles (1868-1946)