April 25, 2017
22 Then came the Festival of Dedication at Jerusalem. It was winter, 23 and Jesus was in the temple courts walking in Solomon’s Colonnade. 24 The Jews who were there gathered around him, saying, “How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Messiah, tell us plainly.”
25 Jesus answered, “I did tell you, but you do not believe. The works I do in my Father’s name testify about me, 26 but you do not believe because you are not my sheep. 27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life,and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.”
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
What does it mean to listen to the voice of Jesus? On the one hand I know a lot of people who consider it ridiculous that Jesus would actually talk to people today. On the other hand, I know a lot of people who insist Jesus talks to them constantly and about everything from what to wear to where to go on vacation.
What do you think? Does Jesus speak to people today? Does he speak to you. Here’s my understanding. Jesus speaks through his Word and Jesus speaks through the Holy Spirit. So how do we know if what we are hearing is actually from Jesus and not just what we want to believe Jesus is saying to us? Here are a few guidelines to consider.
First, is what you are hearing consistent with what Jesus has already said as recorded in the Gospels. If what you are hearing is inconsistent with the revelation of Scripture then you are probably not hearing from Jesus. One of the great gifts of the Gospels is we are given a trustworthy record from which to understand the kinds of things Jesus says. Does what you are hearing sound like what Jesus might say? Second, does what you are hearing create anxiety within you? If so, you might want to question it. The Words of Jesus carry Peace. They do not create confusion and anxiety. In fact, a sign that Jesus is speaking to us may well be an abiding sense of peace that doesn’t even make sense to us. Third, does what you are hearing from Jesus find resonance with the discernment of other believers whom you trust?
In my own experience, this conviction is ever deepening: Jesus is always speaking. Why do I believe this? Because every time I manage to get really still and attentive and find myself humbly submitted to him, I hear his voice. Here’s what I don’t understand about myself. Why am I not constantly finding this place and posture of listening? I don’t have good answer.
The great Methodist missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones, often referenced his practice of going to his “listening post.” Here’s what I like about that. It demonstrates expectation. I find the more I actually expect to hear from Jesus the more I hear from him.
Abba Father, we thank you for your Son, Jesus, whose word is truth. Thank you that he continues to speak through his recorded words, and thank you that he speaks to us through the gift of the Holy Spirit. Increase our expectation of hearing his voice. We pray in Jesus name. Amen.
- What do you think? Does Jesus speak to people today?
2. How are you cultivating the practice of listening to Jesus?
3. What is he saying to you these days?
P.S. I wanted to let you all know I will be in Peoria, Illinois, on May 6-7, at the First United Methodist Church leading a Saturday retreat and preaching on Sunday morning. If you are in the area it would be great to see you. We will be gathering around the big idea of Awakening to the Second Half of the Gospel. The invitation came from a group of Daily Text Readers and they were gracious to ask me to extend the invitation to the rest of you!
Join the Daily Text Fasting Challenge here. Whenever you sign up, it will begin the following Tuesday.
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.