Sheep have always had a special place in my heart since I was a little girl. My grandmother had a copy of a painting in my bedroom of a collie dog and a lamb. I found out later it was called “Found”. The painting is attributed to Walter Hunt. On the back was the background story about the faithful collie going after the one missing from the flock in a blinding snowstorm.
The Bible portrays sheep as an animal that needs a shepherd. Why? A sheep has a heavy wool coat. When he goes down, it is difficult for a sheep to get up because of the weight. Falling in water is fatal, because the heavy fleece becomes saturated, making it even heavier. Sheep eat the grass to the dirt beneath, stripping their pasture of any grass over time. That’s why they must be moved frequently. Sheep are no match for predators. They are very vulnerable to attack, and lack the ability to ward off any attacker. One Kind Planet has a list called “Amazing Facts About the Sheep”. The website says sheep have good memories, display emotions, are extremely intelligent, independent, and are good problem solvers to name a few. Sheep in a nutshell are just like us in many ways.
So if sheep are so smart, why do they need a shepherd? The best reason is that despite being smart, they are vulnerable. They wander off. I guess just like us they need someone to watch over them, being ready to help in time of need.
One of my favorite pictures is that of Jesus carrying the lamb. Some pictures show him carrying the lamb across his shoulders. Some show him carrying the lamb in his arms. Each portrays a tenderness and care for the needy lamb.
It’s no secret that the Bible says Jesus does that for us. He carries us through all of our trials. He will always get us through, if we will trust Him. We don’t have to figure things out alone. If we will seek Him in prayer, we will learn what we are to do when we have lost our way.
“I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments.” Psalm 119:176
When we trust our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we can be at peace, no matter our circumstances. All things are in His power and under His control. He is very much aware of who we are and what our situation is. He tells us He is the good Shepherd in John 10:14-16 KJV:
“I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. 15As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd.”
Do not think your Good Shepherd has forgotten you. He hasn’t, He knows right where you are and what your circumstances are this very minute. When in doubt, I like to be reminded of the twenty-third Psalm which perfectly describes the role of Jesus in our lives:
1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.
The Book of John reminds us that sheep know their Shepherd. They know who cares for them, and they trust their Shepherd.
“Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me. But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out my Father’s hand. I and my Father are one.” John 10:25-30
In times like these, we must trust our Shepherd Jesus. He knows our path, and He expects us to follow Him. We do not know the way, but He does.
“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 55:6
While our circumstances may have changed, our relationship with Him has not. Despite our fears He has all under His control. Whatever we must face, He is with us. We can trust Him, for the Bible says:
“Blessed is the man that trusteth in the LORD, and whose hope the LORD is.” Jeremiah 17:7