“Know that the LORD, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.” Psalm 100:3………………………
“The Lord is my shepherd;
I shall not want.
He makes me to 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.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil;
For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You anoint my head with oil;
My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
All the days of my life;
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord
Forever.” Psalm 23…………………..
“…and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” John 10:4…………….
It should be obvious, and the truth is that it is. But what is obvious is not always what we want to see, and choose to see, and choose to do something about. Such is the case, I am afraid, with this. A shepherd leads his sheep. Sheep follow their shepherd. Could the role of a shepherd, and the role of his sheep, be any more obvious? It’s perfectly clear, isn’t it? The shepherd is in charge in every way of his sheep. In loving them, leading them, providing for them, making sure they are fed and watered, cared for and shorn, healed when injured, protected from danger, in the right place at the right time, living and fulfilling their purpose, day by day, step by step, breath by breath. The sheep don’t lead the shepherd. The shepherd leads his sheep. The sheep follow. It couldn’t be more clear, could it?
But when it comes to the Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ, and His sheep, His followers, those who have repented and placed their trust in Him and made a commitment to follow Him forever, is it not true that sometimes we sheep have things backwards? Is it not true sometimes we sheep try to do the leading? Try to find love not from our Good Shepherd but instead from elsewhere, from another, from someone or some people instead? Try to provide for ourselves and protect ourselves? Try to care for ourselves and heal ourselves? Go where we want to get what we want? Lead ourselves around? Make decisions independent of our Good Shepherd? Go against Him? Decide we know what’s best, and when? Find our own purpose in life instead of His purpose for us? Try to orchestrate our lives and the lives of others, too? Call Him our Shepherd but leave out the “Good”? Figuring He’s just some shepherd, and that’s He’s really not so “Good”, and that we really know better? Run ahead of Him, or away from Him, because we don’t want to wait or don’t want what He says to us and wants from us or wants to do with us or through us? Because we don’t trust Him? Are more in love with ourselves and others and this world and with what we want than we’re in love with Him? Spend more time with everything and everyone else and then squeeze Him into our schedules at best?
Sheep, if I’m not mistaken, are not considered to be the brightest animals in the world. But they figure out how to follow, don’t they? Don’t they ultimately realize what’s best for them? How about us? Some of us need to stop and examine our hearts, and our lives, and ask ourselves this. Who is leading whom? Are we following our Good Shepherd, or are we leading ourselves or following another? If we find we’re not following our Good Shepherd, we who are His sheep need to come back to our Good Shepherd and re-commit ourselves to our beloved Shepherd. To love Him. And to faithfully follow Him as He leads us graciously, mercifully, lovingly forth. Amen.