I love that I was able to capture this scene on video! It illustrates the bond sheep have with their lambs (baby children), and lambs with their mothers.
It also shows how sheep use their “voices” to call to one another, and answer back. In this case, the mamma sheep and baby lamb are using their voices to find one another, a very common even in a flock. Sheep who are best friends do this to find each other, too. Sometimes sheep use their voices to call out to each other when they are moving together as a herd; from what I can tell, most often it is how they keep track of each other. They know one anothers’ voices, just like this lamb and mother know each other’s voices, and they know the voices of their familiar shepherd. Do you notice how the baby does not call her mother only once, and her mother does not answer only once?
“When he puts forth all his own [sheep], he goes ahead of them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.”
The voice of a Good Shepherd is one that signals comfort and security. The sheep know they are on the right path, because they are following the shepherd they know and have experienced his trustworthiness. When we hear our Shepherd’s voice, the sheep- response is to call back in answer! Then begins this long exchange of calling, listening, answering, hearing the call again and answering again, all throughout the journey as the sheep move along, following their shepherd.
When I lead my sheep out of the barn or pasture to move them somewhere else to graze or for some other purpose, I have a particular call and pitch I use that they have come to recognize: “Sheep SHEEP!” They all answer me as a flock, like a big sheep chorus, and not just once! They keep calling to me, I answer them back so they can know where I am. Even if they are lost in the herd and cannot see me up close, they can still hear me. They call again, and I answer them, just like they do each other; I call to them and they answer me. It is how we communicate, “I hear you! I’m over here, come this way! Come find me!” And the response, “I hear you, I’m coming! Can you hear me?” It is an ongoing, repeating exchange.
I love this word picture John 10:4 Jesus gives us using the metaphor of being a shepherd calling His sheep, and they in return knowing His voice. Once you know sheep, you understand that when you call out to Jesus, you can count on Him answering back with His own call; when He calls to you, He knows you will call back to Him, part of an on going exchange, back and forth. It is instinct for the sheep. They cannot hear their shepherd’s call without answering back. It is what sheep do.
Jesus’ metaphor gives a picture of continual forward movement motivated by a bond of trust, understanding, and familiarity, because the sheep know their provision and care come from the shepherd. They are not comfortable being separated from Him any more than a mother is comfortable being separated from her baby lamb, nor one sheep from a friend. There is a visceral, felt connection between the parties calling one another.
When Jesus calls you, and you call back to Him, it is not a one time thing! It goes on and on, just like the sheep and her lamb.