Jesus, The Good Shepherd

Sheep peacefully grazing in a field at Sunrise

Let’s talk about Sheep.  Sheep is used as a metaphor for Mankind over 50 times in The Bible. 32 of those 50 mentioned verses were spoken by Jesus.

Sheep are very social creatures.  They like to be among their flock because being around their kind provides a peaceful protected feeling for them.  They are meek, kind, patient, and submissive and rely solely on their Shepherd.  We people, all are most comfortable in our own sanctioned close-knit groups, families, and like-minded organizations.

Sheep need a Good Shepherd.  A Good Shepherd needs to be kind, compassionate, and patient.  He or she is their sheep’s provider, protector, rescuer and physician. “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep and am known by My own” (John 10:14).  On this we also read, “I am the Good Shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep” (John 10:11).

   Did you know that Shepherds like to name their sheep?  The sheep learn their personal names too. The Shepherd can call a single sheep out of the flock by calling their name and the sheep will come along the Shepherds side.  “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” (John 10: 27).

Sheep are not herded like cattle but are led? When a Shepherd needs to move his flock to a new pasture for feeding he simply calls his sheep and walks in front of them to lead them to a greener pasture.  “And when he brings out his own sheep, he goes before them; and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice” (John 10:4).

Back in biblical times and even in some cultures around the world today when Shepherds bring their sheep into shelter for protection at night.  The good shepherd brings them to a three walled cliff side or to a structure that he has built that has three sides.  This protected structure known as a Sheepcote protects the sheep on three sides and the Shepherd sleep across the open side to beat off predator’s or people who want to kill or do harm. The opening is called the Shepherds Door.  “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.  All whoever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door.  If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture” (John 10: 7-9).

Our beloved Sheep can become very distracted.  If their head is down and they are grazing away on delicious green grass or hay they will simply focus on what they are enjoying and only will look up once they are done enjoying their meal or should I say their distraction.  Sadly, they can become easily lost.  When the lost sheep raise their head and see that they have wandered from their kind and their Shepherd the lost sheep are so traumatized by being alone that they simply just stand there stressed out and don’t move because they don’t know which way to go. They become easy pickings for their predators in this unprotected world.   Remember, that their good Shepherd knows all his sheep by name and knows their habits and who they hang out with in the herd he will notice that one of his sheep is missing and in trouble.  He will leave his whole flock in a safe location and will go out and search high and low for the missing sheep.  If he is lucky enough to find the lost sheep he will pick up the sheep and carry it back to his flock. Upon arrival, all the other sheep literally will jump for joy and chat up a storm welcoming the lost sheep back to the flock. “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.  What do you think?  If a Shepherd has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying?  And if he should find it, assuredly I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray” (Matthew 18: 11-13).  In 2 Peter 2:25 we also read, “For you were like sheep going astray, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls”. 

Even King David who in his youth was a Shepherd used Sheep as a metaphor too.  Most notably Psalm 23: 1-3

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.  He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake.

Trust The Good Shepherd.  He knows our name, He cares about us personally.  He will seek us when we are lost.  Pick us up and carry us back to safety. He protects our coming and goings and watches over us while we sleep.  He ultimately, laid down his life on our behalf that we may dwell in the House of the Lord forever. Amen.


Karen Meier is a Writer, Speaker and Blogger. In her spare time she takes long walks with her husband.

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