February 14, 2014
He Knows My Name
By Skip Heitzig
One of my favorite songs was written by my friend Tommy Walker. Tommy and I were in the Philippines at a crusade some years ago, and when he sang that song, thousands of people in the crowd began to weep as they sang along: “He knows my name. He knows my every thought. He sees each tear that falls, and hears me when I call.”
I found out it was their favorite Christian song because in a huge metropolitan area like Manila, with so many millions of people, they all felt like they were just a face in a crowd. And the idea that there’s a God in heaven who knows my name and calls me by name is so comforting.
It’s personal when somebody calls you by name. Even if you are in a noisy crowd and can’t hear much, when somebody speaks your name across the room, you hear it.
The picture brings to mind a passage in John 10: “He who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice; and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (vv. 2-3).
Look closely at verse 3: “He calls his own sheep by name.” In Jesus’ time, shepherds had names for individual sheep in their flock. The shepherd might call one “Wanderer,” and another one “Grumpy,” and yet another “Slowpoke,” because he knew them, and their personalities and idiosyncrasies.
It’s the same way for Jesus as the Good Shepherd. He knows your name. He knows you inside and out, and He calls to you.
It’s a beautiful thought that we have a shepherd who takes care of the sheep. Sheep are prone to wander and leave the path, and they require a constant attention in order for them to survive. Phillip Keller, who was a shepherd in Canada, wrote that sheep require more attention and meticulous care than any other class of livestock.
When David wrote, “The Lord is my shepherd” (Psalm 23), it was a bragging point: “Look at who my Shepherd is! Look at who’s in control of my life!” Being a shepherd himself, David knew that the quality of life for any sheep depends on the kind of shepherd that takes care of it. So he was exalting God’s greatness.
But John 10 also says “the sheep know his voice.” “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. Yet they will by no means follow a stranger, but will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers” (v. 4-5).
When Jesus Christ came to this earth as the shepherd, many in Israel did not recognize him. “He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). But some, the true sheep, heard His voice and placed their faith in Him.
There’s a great point there: The Shepherd knows your name, so know His voice, and learn to trust His leading. Maybe he’s leading you out of a bad or sinful relationship, or away from a false religion or some other negative influence. Trust Him, because He’s leading you toward green pastures and still waters.
The way may be rocky and dark, but ultimately it’s going to be peaceful, it’s going to be nourishing.
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