When Jesus talked about the sheep in Matthew 18, the people no doubt recalled what Ezekiel had written so many years before. They knew sheep referred to them and assured them that God would take care of them.
I’ve heard it said sheep are dumb animals that don’t have the sense enough to stay in safety. Once they recognize their shepherd’s voice, they follow it even if it leads them over a cliff. A former pastor once said we were to follow Christ like that, and I guess I see where he was going. We need to trust God completely, even if we don’t understand where he’s leading us.
Anyway – today as I read I was reminded that sheep were very important to the people in Bible times. They were a source of income, they provided food and clothing, and the choicest of them became sacrifices for sin.
It’s not that God chose the dumbest animal on the farm to use for an example of his people. He chose the most important animal to show where we stand in creation.
Ezekiel and Jesus show us that God considers each one of the sheep (you and me) precious. He will go to any length to protect and nurture the weakest, to keep the strongest in the fold, and he’ll hunt us down if we stray.
I like being a sheep. I like knowing my Shepherd has my back. I don’t want to follow him blindly, but I want to follow him trusting him because he can be trusted. I want to know my Shepherd’s voice so that when the wolf comes calling I’ll know the difference and stay close to my Protector.
My Dear Shepherd, thank you for loving your sheep. Thank you for caring for us, for protecting us, feeding us, leading us. May we listen when you call, obey when you command, and may we not stray. Hold on to your people, Lord, so the nations will recognize you are God and there is no better place to be than by your side.