Sunday, January 11, 2009

Thoughts on the Shepherd and the Sheep

Before Christmas, I heard a really powerful sermon.

During Advent our church went through a series called "He Shall Be Called....." and each of the four weeks of advent we heard a sermon about one of Jesus' names. This particular week it was "He shall be called the Shepherd."

Some of you know that I love the analogy of the Shepherd and the sheep. There is a great book called "A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23" that has informed my understanding of God as a Shepherd and really transformed how I view Jesus. This sermon - awesomely - was not on Psalm 23, so I got some new insights.

The three-fold premise and the questions I felt I needed to ask myself are:

1) Luke 15:1-7. The good shepherd goes after and seeks out his sheep.
Someone once said that "sheep nibble themselves lost" - in other words, they just slowly nibble along and suddenly look up and are separated from the flock and have no idea where they are. But the Shepherd doesn't let them go that easily. He seeks them out.
I wondered: "How am I being like a sheep right now? Where am I nibbling and slowly moving off the path of my Shepherd? In what area am I lost right now?"

2) John 10:11-18. The good shepherd protects his sheep to the death.
A shepherd's life is his sheep - he will defend his sheep to his own death if necessary (we see this in old testament stories of David - fighting animals to protect his sheep). If you go up to a sheep and shout at it - it will run away and all the other sheep with it. That is why the shepherd (and staying close to him) is so important - he will protect us from the things they are trying to scare us off.
I wondered: "How am I being like a sheep right now? From what fear am I running? How is the Shepherd protecting me today?"

3) Zech 13:1-6, 7-9. The good shepherd protects us from the holy wrath of a holy God and leads the sheep home.
Zechariah tells us that false prophets will rise and tell us lies, and that many will be led astray. But Jesus tells us that a sheep knows the voice of his or her shepherd. In fact, when two or more flocks of sheep are sharing a pasture, all a shepherd has to do is walk out and give his call and his flock will run to him. The sheep know the truth, the true voice.
I wondered: "How am I being like a sheep right now? Am I listening for the voice of my Shepherd? What false prophets am I listening to? To whom can I tell the truth about the True Shepherd?"

I hope as you approach this year you will consider these questions as I have been. Blessings to you tonight!