One of the first jobs I held in the business world was that of being a bookkeeper. I worked at The Crocker Anglo National Bank in California. I was one of six people who manually posted the transactions of debits and credits to the customer’s accounts. The technology to do that function automatically would come years later.
I was also trained to operate the telephone switchboard, for all of the incoming and outgoing calls at the bank. The woman who did my training not only instructed me in the switchboard functions, but taught me to answer each call in a professional manner. A point she particularly stressed, was that I should take extra care with the bank president’s calls.
One hectic day, as I was working at the switchboard, all the lights lit up at nearly the same time. I was struggling to connect and route the sudden influx of calls. Inadvertently, I pulled out the connection on the bank president’s call! Red-faced with embarrassment, I apologized profusely, and reconnected his call.
As I spent more time at the switchboard, I was able to recognize the voices of some of the callers. In a courteous way, I would greet them by name. Each person has a sound, and talking pattern, that is distinct from everyone else. Even as a child, I was able to identify someone from the timbre of their voice.
Jesus talked about recognizing voices when He said: “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, (the shepherd), and the sheep recognize his voice and come to him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.” John 10:3-4 (NLT) (emphasis added).
Jesus’ disciples had spent nearly three years listening to the sound of His voice as he taught them. In spite of that, (after the resurrection) two of His followers did not know His voice when they walked together on the dusty road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. As they traveled the seven miles, Jesus explained to them the prophecies concerning Himself. In their “voice-blindness,” they did not realize it was their risen Lord.
“They approached the village where they were going. He made as if he were going on farther; but they held him back, saying, ‘Stay with us, for it’s almost evening, and it’s getting dark.’ So he went into stay with them.” Luke 24: 28-29 (CJB)
At the table, Jesus took the matzah bread, and said the Hebraic blessing: “Blessed are you, O Lord our God, ruler of the universe, who brings forth bread from the earth.” As He broke the bread and handed it to them, “their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. But he became invisible to them.” Luke 24:31 (CJB). After the years the disciples had spent with their teacher, they had not known who He was until He had spoken the familiar blessing.
Even more extraordinary is the story of what happened three days after the crucifixion. Early that morning, Mary Magdalene came to Jesus’ tomb. She found that the rough-hewn stone, which had sealed the opening, had been pushed aside. What thoughts must have troubled her as she ran back to tell Peter and John what she had discovered!
John arrived at the tomb first. Stooping down to peer inside, he found that the tomb was empty. He did not enter, but could see that the linen burial cloths had been neatly folded. When Peter arrived, he went inside to see for himself. John followed his example. Then they left together and returned home. Mary remained alone by the tomb, distraught and crying. As she cried, she stooped down to look inside. Where the body of Jesus had lain, she saw two angels sitting. They asked her why she was crying.
She replied, “Because they have taken away my Lord...” John 20:13 (KJV). Turning around, she saw Jesus standing near her. Her vision blurred with tears, she did not realize it was Messiah.
Jesus asked, “Woman, why are you weeping?”
Mary assumed it was the gardener who had spoken to her. In her grief she begged him. “Sir, if you have carried Him away, tell me where you have laid Him, and I will take Him away.” John 20:15 (NKJV)
It was then, that Jesus called her by name, “Mary.” Upon hearing her name she recognized His voice.
If the Good Shepherd is calling you by name, open your heart today. Listen to the sound of His voice. Remain connected to Him, and you will be forever changed.