John Chapter 9 comes right before John Chapter 10. I’m serious.

John Chapter 10 is the shepherd and sheep chapter, the New Testament centerpiece on the voice of God. Chapter 9 is the story of the man born blind and the pharisees who had become blinded by their religion. “If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin. But now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains.”

So when Jesus says just a few verses later that when the Shepherd speaks, “his sheep follow him because they know his voice,” (10:4), he’s connecting the two chapters. How do I know that?

Well, the word “know” is a Greek word literally translated “see.” His sheep SEE his voice. His voice is often visual. A sunset, a scene in a movie, a transcendent moment unfolding before us, a picture in our minds.

Imagery in the Bible — word pictures, metaphors, stories — are designed to evoke something, to take us somewhere, to paint truths on the shimmering canvas of our minds. Try it sometime. Read John 15 and stop to imagine what Jesus is saying about the Vine and the branches. I mean, really sit in that image for a few minutes. As it takes shape in your imagination, ask God to speak to you about it. Or read Revelation 1, where Jesus appears to John on the island of Patmos, then stop and visualize the scene. Sub John out and put yourself in his place.

Sometimes God will take our imagination and breathe his inspiration into the scene. Happens to me often.