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Thursday: Sheep and Shepherd — 10 Comments

  1. I grew up with sheep and some of the parallels between the church and sheep make me uncomfortable. I know that sheep can be incredibly stupid. Given sheep the choice of going through a gate into fresh green pastures, or jumping into a cold river, many of them will choose the latter. I know because I have had to jump in after them and rescue them.

    There is one enduring image of sheep and shepherding from my childhood that has stood the test of time and application. My grandfather, the shepherd in our family knew his sheep well. We had a couple of hundred sheep, but Grandad knew each of the sheep and what they had been up to. He would point to a sheep and tell me that it was the one we helped with a difficult lambing last season, or we had pulled another one out of the blackberry vines last week. Grandad used to walk through the flock every day, watching, checking, helping, moving them to new pastures when needed.

    If anything my grandfather illustrated the role of Jesus, the good shepherd who knew his flock. This is summarized in John 10: 14-15:

    I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

    Another scripture that identifies the shepherd with his sheep is Isa 53: 6-7:

    All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

    While I am initially uncomfortable with the notion of being compared to a stupid sheep, the significant lesson to be learned is that Jesus identifies with us. The Shepherd takes on the sheep's experience and that is assuring.

  2. One Fold and One Shepherd speaks of unity doesn't it? Where the Shepherd goes, the sheep will follow, and benefit from the Shepherd's protection and provisions for their needs. If one wanders off and does not follow where the Shepherd leads, can there be unity? If half the sheep go one way and the rest go another, only one of those two groups can be following the Shepherd's leading, not both. (It is also possible that neither group follows the Shepherd)

    Unity exists in following the Shepherd's leading always.

    This metaphor sheep and their shepherd which Jesus used teaches us so much about our need for Christ, and the importance of following Him “withersoever He goeth”(Rev 14:4).

    • I hear what you are saying Robert and it is all too easy to be led astray. The issue that comes to mind for me is that sometimes we magnify the differences that do not matter all that much. We attach an importance to our viewpoint that expresses the notion that we are right and "they" are wrong. The issue is not the rightness or wrongness of an idea or interpretation but rather the way we view those who do not hold the same view.

      I think I have used this illustration before, but in a certain country where Adventists lived above the Arctic Circle, a difference developed about when Sabbath should begin and end. Obviously, the 3 months of continuous daylight and 3 months of continuous darkness was an issue for those concerned. To cut a long story short, the Church (GC) was eventually asked to rule on the situation and they asked the BRI to study the issue. In the end, the recommendation was made that those involved should follow their one conscience on what to do, but with two conditions.

      1. They should not swap from one interpretation to the other as a matter of convenience, and
      2. They should not judge the others who observed the beginning and end of Sabbath differently.

      Such differences divide us when we try and coerce our interpretation on to others.

  3. Are sheep really stupid? Mathew 16:10.

    Does the idea of sheep being stupid come from the Bible?

    Jesus is the lamb of God. Is the lamb part of the sheep???

    Are Christians stupid???

    • Yes, sheep are stupid. That is a fact of nature. Jesus became the Lamb of God when He became incarnate as a human being. He lived our experience and was completely dependent on the Father, just as we are to be dependent. He lived His sinless life by deepening daily on the guidance, strength and wisdom of the Father. Even the miracles He performed were through dependence on His Father - just as miracles today are not performed by missionaries or pastors but are God's answers to prayers by His children.

    • Are Sheep really stupid? Yes - from experience (Incidentally, your reference should be Mat 10:16)
      Does the idea of sheep being stupid come from the Bible? No, but the Bible refers to sheep as becoming lost. And applies that imagery to us.

      The takeaway message of the imagery is that sheep need a shepherd and that shepherd is Jesus. The really good news is that Jesus the shepherd identifies with his sheep (us) and becomes the sacrificial lamb for us. Isaiah's depiction posted above resonates with me having lived on a sheep farm in my youth.

      Are Christians stupid? I suggest that we need to be led. We are really stupid if we are unwilling to be led by Jesus.

    • Could we say, sheep are helpless?
      They know when something's wrong, but have no clue how to remedy the problem. We could also say they are trusting. Why else would they follow a shepherd, or a sinner to the temple and stand there trusting as the sinner picked up the knife?

      Perhaps they seem stupid by our standard, but in a sinless world, would they seem stupid?

  4. I don't want to say sheeps are stupid because if we look at what Jesus dealt with like a donkey too,these two animals are not stupid but are humble. We need to be humble and listen to the voice of our Shephard like what sheep do. As they trust the shephard as a good shepherd.

  5. While we are talking about sheep and unity, we should not forget that Jesus said I have other sheep who are not of this fold.

    Remember in Revelation a voice from heaven said "come out of her (Babylon) my people"

    I believe true unity is being like Jesus - He loved everyone, He had one message - the Everlasting Gospel which I believe is the truth about the Everlasting Covenant. The LORD says: I will be your God, you will be My people and I will dwell with you.
    If we study these statements we should be able to find the complete Principle of Life contained in them.

  6. Seriously if we were that intelligent we wouldn't need a Savior to come and rescue us from this dark valley. I'd rather boast in my stupidity; because when I'm cognitively weak yet I'm wise in Christ. We lay down in sin; weak, powerless; were it not Christ, we would die in sin with no hope. Jeremiah 9:23,24 Jeremiah 9:23-24 New International Version (NIV)

    23 This is what the Lord says:

    “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom
    or the strong boast of their strength
    or the rich boast of their riches,
    24 but let the one who boasts boast about this:
    that they have the understanding to know me,
    that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness,
    justice and righteousness on earth,
    for in these I delight,”
    declares the Lord. Jesus used a perfect illustration as we as sheep are wanderers and in accord with the first post, sheep would rather jump into a cold river than go through a gate into fresh green pastures. Isn't what we have been doing for almost 6000 years. We daily chose our own wise smart intelligent ways over righteous obedience through Christ leading to green pasture and eternity with our Lord. It's time to obey the voice of our Shepherd ... time to go home


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