“But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd.” Matthew 9:36
When I was a young girl, my family had a little farmette in Kent in Southern England. We had a few horses for fun, we raised a few pigs, had a milk cow, some ducks and geese and chickens, and we also had sheep. I remember we children would be afraid of them at feeding time because they would rush en masse to the feeding trough, their only focus was getting their feed, and whoever got in the way got knocked down and trampled! Thankfully we only had about 10 sheep, so it wasn’t too bad. When my husband and I were younger, at our other house, we also had a little farmette. We didn’t have horses, but we had pigs, a milk cow and beef calves, we had ducks, geese, turkeys, chickens, and we also had goats and sheep. We often had to rescue them out of the creek because they would get waterlogged, or untangle them from a briar patch, and keep them out of my flower beds! I even had a white ewe that I had to force to nurse feed her black lamb because she didn’t recognize him – her own flesh and blood! We realized early on that those little mice in the movie ‘Babe’ were right: “Sheep are definitely stupid!”
So, when I read in the Bible that God calls His people His sheep, at first I feel a little insulted:
“Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” Psalm 100:3
“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.” Isaiah 53:6
Do you know anything about sheep and shepherds? Here’s what I know:
Sheep need a shepherd to lead them on the safe paths, and bring them home at the end of the day. Shepherds often move sheep to different pastures, and since they don’t usually pay attention to what is going on around them, the sheep can get hit by a car on the road, fall into a muddy ditch, or even into a ravine! The shepherd takes them to where they will be safe, and finally brings them home.
Sheep need a shepherd to provide their needs. Sheep are always hungry, they graze, and there is always a need for more food. But, there are many plants that are poisonous to sheep. They don’t know which ones are bad for them, and they will go ahead and eat anyway without a shepherd to go ahead of his sheep and clear out those noxious plants.
Sheep need a shepherd to keep them away from evil. There is danger in the woods! There are predators waiting to partake of a tasty lamb supper, and also, the sheep’s wool can get caught up in briars and once stuck, a sheep will just give up and stay caught until they die.
Sheep need a shepherd to protect them from false safety. Sheep rustlers will have a feed trough full of appealing foods and hay to entice the sheep into their truck. They will talk softly to the sheep, and try to put them at ease. Once they have the sheep in their truck they will either sell them to the highest bidder, or use them for their own devices.
Sheep need a shepherd to do whatever it takes to relieve them of their ailments. Sheep are susceptible to many parasites – worms, nose flies, ear mites, etc. The shepherd has to to take measures that are sometimes unpleasant to the sheep, but in the long run it will protect them from a parasite infestation that can be deadly.
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SO, how are we like sheep, then?? Well, the Lord Jesus looked at the multitude of unsaved people and was filled with COMPASSION (love, care, concern) because they were like ‘sheep without a shepherd’. They were wandering about like lost sheep, susceptible to danger, and evil, and perils! And, because He loved them, He didn’t want to see them perish. We are all in need of The Shepherd, for much the same reasons that sheep need a shepherd, Jesus said,
“I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” John 10:11
Human beings (mankind) need The Shepherd to lead us on the right path, and finally bring us home. Because we have all sinned, we are in need of the Good Shepherd to lead us on the right path to Heaven. The Lord Jesus is the Only Way to Heaven, He is the gate that leads us into that Heavenly sheep fold (John 10:7). When we trust Him as our Savior, He will also lead us in the right paths (Proverbs 3:5,6) through prayer and reading His Word.
Mankind needs The Shepherd to provide our needs. The Lord promises to provide our needs if we put Him first and trust and obey Him (Matthew 6:33; Philippians 4:19).
Mankind needs The Shepherd to keep them from evil. There is danger in the world! There is danger in our own selves! When we trust Christ as Savior, He will help give us the power and the discernment to overcome those “wolves” that are trying to devour us – drugs, alcohol, sexual sins, eating disorders, addictions, etc. He will keep our soul from death and Hell because He has won the victory. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?” (1 Corinthians 15:55).
Mankind needs The Shepherd to protect them from false teaching. There are many wrong ideas out in the world about how to get to Heaven, and how to please God the Father, there is a lack of absolute truth. The Lord Jesus, the Good Shepherd tells us the Truth because He IS Truth:
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him.” (John 14:6)
Mankind needs The Shepherd to do whatever it takes to relieve them from their ailments. Mankind’s greatest ailment is our sin problem. We are all born with a “bent” toward sin. Believe me. I had five children. I did not have to teach my children to take the biggest piece of cake, push their siblings out of the way to get to what they wanted, or strike out against anyone who offends them! The Lord Jesus did “whatever it takes”, He gave His life to pay for our sins.
So, YES, we are like sheep. We need The Shepherd, and sometimes, like sheep, we ‘are definitely stupid’! We are so bent on going our own way, or following the crowd that we rush toward that proverbial feed trough knocking others down as we go, trampling on the feelings and needs of others. And, when we, as Christians look at this world, and how confused and depressed and hopeless they seem, we need to have compassion on them, realizing that they are “sheep without a shepherd” and that we have The Answer to their problem!
I am so thankful that I have the Good Shepherd to guide and protect me, to keep me from evil and provide my needs. I can count on Him! He is all I need!
~Graced and Grateful Grammy
When you can’t sleep, don’t count sheep, count on the Shepherd!