We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. Isaiah 53:6
Sheep need a lot of attention and are easily frightened. As a ‘herd’ animal without defense, sheep protect themselves by banding together in large groups. In fact they love to be in physical contact with one another. Sheep also have a strong following instinct, with the submissive ones following the dominant ram who hopefully has a good sense of leadership, like the Shepherd David, who we learn about so beautifully in the Psalms.
He chose David his servant
and took him from the sheep pens;
from tending the sheep he brought him
to be the shepherd of his people Jacob,
of Israel his inheritance.
And David shepherded them with integrity of heart;
with skillful hands he led them.
Sheep rely on their senses to alert them to danger. Their eyesight is great peripherally, but not good at depth perception, or areas of high contrast of light and dark. Their hearing on the other hand is excellent and they can pinpoint sounds and are upset by loud noises. If a stranger would shout at the sheep they would not listen, but become afraid. Sheep know the comfort of their shepherds voice, and the shepherd knows what’s best for his flock and guides them with his strong, calm and quieting voice.
The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” John 10:2-5
The Shepherd wants to give his sheep the opportunity for the best life he can provide. What a picture of loving care and nurturing!
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. John 10:7-10
If we are lost, the shepherd will search the ends of the earth until he finds us, rejoicing with everyone when the little one is returned to his pen.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:1-7
What a reason to rejoice.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
It is he who made us, and we are his;
we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.
Enter his gates with thanksgiving
and his courts with praise;
give thanks to him and praise his name.
Listening for the Shepherd,
Print this post by clicking on the green ‘printer friendly’ bar below, and write your answers to these questions.
Question (feel free to journal your answer here) In times of fear do you listen for the voice of the Shepherd? Do you know the voice you can trust?
Your prayer (feel free to write your prayer here)
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