We Are His “Sheep”?
How very rare to find someone who truly does not like animals. They are repulsed by their smell, their desire to lick the hand or face of the person in range and are ill-at-ease with the way that some animals long to jump on or toward the person they see. Although there are some people in that group, the much larger percentage of people are drawn to any animal. You will see these individuals everywhere. They have their hands outstretched to every dog they meet. They are found trying to feed squirrels. And, they are seen throwing out bread for birds in the snowy winter months.
Children are fascinated by animals. Their love for critters caused someone to create “petting zoos” so that youngsters and their parents could get “up close and personal” with baby goats, calves, pigs, chickens, ducks, etc. These entrepreneurs also provided feed for sale knowing that the best way to get an animal to come to an admirer is to offer them food to eat.
In almost every petting zoo, there will be a lamb or two. Lambs are gentile, soft, and harmless. They will let a child not only pet them, but put them in a head lock, put their arms around the animal’s torso, and even allow the child to follow the lamb to a remote area of the pen as the lamb seeks to find a safe place from the adoring fans pursuing it. They are likely the safest of all the young animals in the zoo.
It is no accident that our LORD referred to His people as sheep. Sheep are defenseless and accepting. They are not bright enough to be fearful of imminent danger. They lack the basic skills to survive for very long “alone” in the wild. Unless the shepherd comes quickly to find a lost sheep or does not guard and protect the flock of sheep well, their chances of survival are bleak.
Jesus Christ is called The Great Shepherd; He calls us His sheep. There is a little book bearing the title, “A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23.” The author, Phillip Keller, was a sheep rancher and has many insights to share about sheep. One that he shares is this:
“Sheep require more attention than any other livestock. They just can’t take care of themselves. Unless their shepherd makes them move on, sheep will ruin a pasture, eating every blade of grass, until finally a fertile pasture is nothing but barren soil. Sheep are near-sighted and very stubborn, but easily frightened. An entire flock can be stampeded by a jack rabbit. They have little means of defense. They’re timid, feeble creatures. Their only recourse is to run if no shepherd is there to protect them. Sheep have no homing instincts. A dog, horse, cat, or a bird can find its way home, but when a sheep gets lost, it’s a goner unless someone rescues it. So, the over-riding principle of Psalm 23 is that sheep can’t make it without a shepherd.” (Copied).
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So, when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it…. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.” (John 10:11-12; 14-15).