“ . . . the sheep respond to his (their shepherd’s) voice.
He calls His sheep by name. . .
The sheep follow him because they recognize his voice.”
Like it or not, we are the “sheep” in the Bible. For most of us, that’s an unfamiliar reality, and not an image with which we can truly connect. Thankfully, sheep haven’t changed much throughout world history, and we can still learn and see what that imagery entails. Most of us flash back to the children’s song, “Mary had a little Lamb…” which she did!
I was struck recently by another Mary who was in Jesus’ earthly adult life. She had quite a story, and would not have been the kind of woman anyone would expect to see in Jesus’ life. She had followed Him, literally, after her first encounter. She had watched Him and the way He lived, interacted, loved, and taught in daily life. She had heard so many of the things He said…to His followers, to strangers, to huge crowds, and all levels of society. She had watched and listened, and was often part of His circle of friends. She had learned so much from Him. He had changed her life.
She had also watched Him die. She was there.
In the following days of utter shock, she went to the place where Jesus’ body had been laid. Sitting quietly nearby, her mind and heart must have been consumed with her shock….sorrow….life-shattering loss. She was weeping. Then, Jesus came. Mary saw Jesus standing there. So absorbed in her own thoughts, her own deep sorrow, she did not recognize Him.
Then, He said her name. “Mary.” And she knew. She knew His Voice. No more was needed.
We, like sheep, can be so familiar with “the flock,” with the quiet security of our pasture, our safe place that is “home,” and the care we experience every day from our Shepherd. It all can blend together to be “normal life.” We, like Mary, can become so absorbed in our present realities, be it pain or joy or sadness, routines. . . or just “life.” We easily miss the fact that our Good Shepherd is present. That Reality can simply become a part of everyday life.
And then, He says your name.
In all of the daily life, through the blur of familiar activities and routines, He speaks your name. Do you hear it? Are you familiar enough with Him that you recognized That Voice? Have you spent enough time with Him that you know His Voice? Do you recognize when He says your name? He has things to tell you. . . personally . . by name. He wants you to know His thoughts toward you. He wants you to know His Presence in your life. You . . . by name.