In John 10:27 Christ said: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Unfortunately not all people, especially in modern times, can understand some of the examples that Christ used in His many sermons and lessons. This is because when He spoke among the people He used examples that were common to them at the time and in the culture they lived. Throughout the region where He moved about amongst the people it was more of a farming community where the people worked the land, raised livestock and the like to support themselves. This would be more like our rural farming communities of today but even our current farmers are getting very sophisticated so there are very few small farms that remain: Everything is high tech and large conglomerates.
Imagine out in the wide-open prairie a shepherd tending a flock of sheep keeping them nearby to protect them from predators such as wolves or mountain lions? The shepherd would be quite familiar with each of his sheep and they would naturally become familiar with the shepherd so as he calls them they would know the sound of his voice. Therefore if a total stranger came about them the sheep would have no familiarity with the stranger and would not obey the stranger’s instructions.
Perhaps we might want to use the analogy of a family pet today. If you have a dog or a cat that lives with your family that pet would almost be like a family member. It would recognize the different members of the family and pretty much follow their commands. But if a stranger came into the house and tried to give the pet orders that pet would not recognize the stranger. With familiarity there is a sense of comfort because of the time they spend together sensing each other. Christ was saying to the people using the analogy of developing a relationship of trust through familiarity. Just like the family pet would feel comfortable around the family members that spend so much time together, the shepherd and the sheep had that kind of rapport.
Now we know that Christ is no longer with us physically but for those that have established a relationship based upon familiarity they would have developed a bond with Him spiritually. Through prayer and supplication we are able to spend time in the presence of Him spiritually so hypothetically we would still have a bond of connection with Him. On the other hand if there is no such bond established through familiarity then a parishioner might not recognize how the Spirit would communicate because there would be no recognition of a method of communication.
Right off the top not everyone claims or wishes to be a follower of Christ so this message would not be of interest to some people. But for those who claim to be a follower this analogy should be quite clear. Christ also said that “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you,” in John 15:7. He also used the analogy of the vine where He said, “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in My that does not bear fruit He take away, and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit.” John 15:1-2 Again Christ was using analogies that were common to the people of those times so they could clearly understand His messages.
Can people of today understand His message and grasp the lesson that He was teaching? It would appear to be relatively straightforward because it is all about establishing a personal relationship through familiarity so you can make a true connection with Christ in Spirit. If you are a follower of Christ today there should be some familiarity with His instructions that compels you to act in a certain manner, speak in a certain manner and even live in a certain manner. If His words does not abide in you then you would also know that everyone that does not bear fruit of His kind will be pruned or cut off and thrown into the fire simply because it is unproductive.
Now all this sounds good in theory but how does one learn to recognize the communication from something that is spiritual? How does one develop a personal relationship with something that is spiritual? Trouble not your mind or your intellect. You will know by the fruit one produces. Again if you are a follower you would be compelled to act in a certain manner, speak in a certain manner and live in a certain manner because the words of Christ should abide (live) in you urging you to do things in a Christ-like manner. One does not need to understand the old farming methods of times past but you can see with your own eyes or hear with your own ears the fruit that you are producing and that will tell you everything you need to know about following the command of the Good Shepherd. “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Selah!