Everyday we use animal analogies, i.e. “tired as a dog”, “happy as a dead pig in the sunshine,” “hungry as a bear”, and more so we know what being compared to an animal is all about. There are more than two hundred references and comparisons, in the Bible, concerning sheep. I have heard preachers say that sheep are dumb. I would say that they couldn’t be thatdumb, at least they knew their own shepherd’s voice and that was key in their protection from wild beasts.
Back in the day, the shepherds named their sheep the way we name our pets! At night several shepherds would put their flocks into one pen so they could take turns sitting in the gate keeping watch, while the others slept. When morning came each shepherd would call their sheep out by name, and they would come and follow their own shepherd because they recognized his voice!
Jesus gave His disciples the example of how the shepherd sits in the gate and then told them that HE was the Good Shepherd. Those sheep were protected and we, as His sheep, are also protected. Our problem is that unlike the sheep, we sometimes listen to other voices and go bleating off in other directions, while our own Good Shepherd is calling us out be name. For centuries shepherds have been herding sheep. Face it, no one likes to carry a load of weight around their shoulders for too long, and so it may seem that the Good Shepherd is picking up a little lamb and hoisting it over His shoulders to help it make it over to the greener pasture, perhaps the little baa-baa is just tired or fatigued and simply needs that extra gentle touch? Not so, a shepherd’s role in the life of his sheep is not only to guard them, prod them, and get them onto the right path and in the right direction. Occasionally there is a need for discipline as well. When an animal that is suppose to be doing what it is suppose to be doing is told over and over again, shown, lovingly shown, forcibly shown, and it still refuses to do what it is suppose to do, the shepherd has two choices: he can either kill the little guy or break its leg to render it unable to continue disobeying him. Now, almost immediately after the leg is broken the sheep gets the message that the shepherd is serious about the direction or the commandment given. It doesn’t take too long for the waywardness to subside and the dependency upon the shepherd to take place. Then, and only then, does the shepherd pick up the broken lamb and place it over his shoulders to carry it for a matter of a long time and an enduring lesson, which over a course of weeks and usually close intimate conversation and discussion from His mouth to the lamb’s ears, will the lamb be strong enough to walk on its own again. Breaking the animal’s leg is better than the alternative. Guess how many actual shepherds take the time to do that? They feast on mutton rather than make the effort when they have too many other obedient sheep walking correctly.
I don’t want to be that little fluffy sheep on Jesus’ shoulders. I’m content to being one of the first sheep in line – keeping pace, doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. Now how do you feel about being compared to sheep?
Psalm 100:3 Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.
Jesus is standing in the gate and protecting me from the wild animals and dangers that try to take my life.
Matthew 10:28 Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Fear him who is able to destroy both body and soul in hell