YOU AND I: SHEEP OF THE SHEPHERD
As we wind up our week with the shepherds, learning how we might become Perceivers of Joy in these stories, today we turn our focus to us. How are we like sheep, and why do we need a shepherd?
Light the Prophecy, Bethlehem and Shepherd Candles.
Mark 6:34 (NRSV)
As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.
How are we like sheep? Why does Jesus refer to us as sheep so often? In reading a few informational articles, I learned about a few qualities that could describe us and why we need a Shepherd.¹
I was delighted to learn that sheep are not stupid, as they have often been described. We hear stories of sheep foolishly following one another over cliffs, but this happens only because sheep band together for protection from predators. They find safety in numbers. Sheep also have a following instinct, so when one moves, they all move, in order to stay together. Sheep huddle together and move away from any danger or perceived predator, but sheep also tend to move toward perceived friends, such as the shepherd who feeds them.
Because sheep are so easily guided and moved, we can understand the importance of having a leader who truly loves and cares for them, a leader who knows best what sheep need. We too, need a shepherd who guides and protects, who feeds and shelters, who keeps us together and away from harm.
How often have we been led astray by others who do not have our best interests in mind, who are only looking out for their own self-interests? How often might we be wrongly influenced by those around us who are enticing us to follow? How often do we get caught up in the “flow” or tendencies of our culture, our family systems, or our worldviews, instead of allowing a loving and wise Shepherd to lead us along a new and better path?
We find our joy in having a Shepherd who will lead us in the right direction. We are Perceivers of Joy each time we allow our Shepherd to nurture us, care for us, guide us, keep us together, and take us home.
Prayer: Good Shepherd, thank you for the joy of being your sheep, in your care. Amen.
(Some of the articles I read…)