Sheep who stray from flock easy prey
Barry Watts, associate pastor, Lawrence Heights Christian Church, 2321 Peterson Road:
It is important to realize that no analogy is perfect, but this is a beautiful, biblical illustration of the relationship between a savior and his people. There are numerous biblical references, including Hebrews 13:20 calling the Lord Jesus the “great shepherd of the sheep.”
First, the analogy is a simple one. Contemporaries of Jesus understood clearly the meaning of this representation. Two thousand years later, we can understand. It is too often trivialized with doctrinal arguments and misconceptions, but the message is simple: Jesus is the shepherd. He knows the way. We need to follow him.
Second, the sheep have a choice whether to follow the shepherd. They are not on leashes but have free will to choose their path. God has given us the freedom to choose our path. Some paths are constructive, and others are destructive.
Third, the flock is vital for the protection of all the sheep. A sheep away from the flock is easy prey for wolves. Christians without church fellowship are exposing themselves to the dangers and temptations of this world.
Fourth, there is no gentle way to express this: Sheep are not intelligent. Some might callously say they are “stupid.” Given to roam without a shepherd, sheep would be lost. They would lack direction. Contrary to our misguided confidence in our own knowledge, there is an intellectual reality: The more we think we know, the more obvious it becomes how little we understand.
The beauty of Christianity is that an all-powerful God sent his son to earth to shepherd his people. He sent Jesus to lead the flock by his example on earth. All we must do is follow his directions. We need to recognize his authority as the shepherd and humbly accept our role as sheep.
— Send e-mail to Barry Watts at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Jesus, like shepherds, protects his flock
Ron Channell, pastor, Family Church of Lawrence, 5150 Clinton Parkway:
The theme of Jesus as shepherd runs prophetically throughout the Bible’s Old Testament and is revealed in the person of Christ in the New Testament.
The culture during biblical times between a shepherd and his flock was characteristically unique. He lived 24/7 with his sheep, protecting them from wild animals, injury, wandering away, while also providing them with nourishment. Psalm 23 depicts this exactly, while identifying the Lord as shepherd. It states, “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.” The psalm continues on to convey the shepherd’s relationship with his flock, supplying restoration, direction, comfort, safety and removal of fear.
When Christ announced in John 10:14, “I am the good shepherd,” he proclaimed that he perfectly fulfills the loyal, loving and protective role of shepherd for those who recognize his voice and follow him.
The key word is “follow.” In John 10:11 he said, “I lay down my life for the sheep.” Did you notice he said “the” sheep, not “my” sheep? It was all-inclusive. He died for everyone. However, it is up to us to choose or deny him. Jesus states in John 10:27-28, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them and they follow me. And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of my hand.” Safety, peace, comfort and eternal life comes by way of accepting Christ as your shepherd.
The Bible says in Luke 15:4, “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the 99 in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?” If you are feeling lost, fearful and without hope today, the Good Shepherd is calling you. He cares for you! He says in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
—Send e-mail to Ron Channell at email@example.com.