I put a sign on a room at church. Hope saw it months later. She said, “You wrote that sign, didn’t you.”
She knows my voice.
It is, admittedly, a Jon Swanson sign. It ends with “Thanks”. It has a somewhat amusing parenthetical comment. It explains the reason for the prohibition being made. As a result, it takes too long to read and is too polite. It is probably much less effective that a simple “Shut up when the gym is full” sign would be.
But it reflects my voice and my daughter recognized it. Voice isn’t just about what we hear, but the ways a person’s personality and character are reflected in all ways of communicating with others. We see voice in tweets and status updates, in books and videos, in conversations and convention speeches.
I used that example over the weekend in explaining statements Jesus makes about being a shepherd and having sheep recognize his voice. Talking to religious leaders and followers, Jesus says:
The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.
He talks more about his voice in the next few sentences.
Which led me to ask the people I was teaching, “how do we learn to recognize someone’s voice the way Hope knows mine?”
And, in relation to this particular statement of Jesus, how would we learn to recognize the voice of Jesus?