The challenge for us Christians is recognizing Jesus’ voice.

As baptized Christians we are one with Christ. He has told us that He now calls us friends, brothers and sisters. We are aware that Christ, as our Creator and Redeemer, is even more to us. Throughout our lives, our goal is to carry out His mission and to become more Christ-like. It is an everyday challenge and privilege. The gospel reassures us today, in the words of Christ:
My sheep hear my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.
No one can take them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all,
and no one can take them out of the Father’s hand.

As sheep follow the shepherd because they know his voice, Christians follows Jesus because they recognize Jesus as the Son of God. The image of the shepherd and his flock can help us appreciate more deeply how God cares for us. Much of the time we can be like lost, tired and hungry sheep, but God the Father brings us together under the leadership of his Son and the guidance of his Spirit.

The challenge for most mainline Christians is not following Jesus. We’ve been taught pretty well about that. The challenge for us is recognizing Jesus’ voice. In Jesus’ day, real sheep were in constant danger of being snatched away by thieves and wild animals. So the assurance that the metaphorical sheep of Jesus’ followers – us – will not be snatched away is powerful. The implication that there are “snatchers” should not be overlooked. We face many real internal and external threats to our relationship with God. But NOT from God. We may screw up, be hurt, pain, but nothing will snatch us out of the caring, restoring, life-giving hand of God.

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