ALL WE LIKE SHEEP
As my wife and I finished praying for our meal while out one evening, a man came over to us and sat down to talk about prayer. This man, as I have now come to find out after multiple other studies with him, is a long time sheep farmer. This may not seem like much, but studying with him has helped me in my own understanding of the times when Christ and both Old Testament and New Testament writers use the illustration of God’s people being like sheep. Maybe most famously, Jesus said in John 10:27 “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me”. We can learn a lot from looking into sheep and what Christ meant by calling us His sheep.
First, sheep are directionless; they have no internal compass or moral code to guide them when someone isn’t leading them. They can easily find themselves lost without a guide or boundaries. In like manner we, without Christ, are directionless, we are lost. The Psalmist would say “The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord” (Psalms 37:23). Without God and His word, and Christ as our Shepherd we are left groping in the dark for a direction. That is why Jesus, the Great Shepherd, said “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. . .” (John 14:6) because without His way, we like sheep would be directionless. Secondly, sheep while young have to be weaned off of milk in order to take on solid food. This idea of maturing to take on solid food is seen throughout the New Testament. That was the writer of Hebrews point when he speaks of solid food belonging “to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised” (Hebrews 5:13). Christians are expected to mature to take on solid food (Hebrews 5:12), this growth is an important part of the Christians life, and if sheep aren’t trained to take on solid food they won’t gain the weight to make it through the winter. If Christians refuse to grow and mature, they won’t have the sustenance needed to endure the storms. Thirdly, sheep will leave food and safety if something catches their eye. This can be one of the biggest mistakes found in a Christians life, Isaiah would speak of how “all we like sheep have gone astray” (Isaiah 53:6), and we are constantly warned of the cunningness of the Devil lest we “may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). As Christians we have everything we need in Christ and His Word, yet sometimes we channel our inner sheep and go astray leaving behind everything, for nothing. This even surprised Paul when some would turn to another gospel which was not the Gospel of Christ (Galatians 1:6).
We see then that the analogy of sheep that Christ uses in reference to His people is not something that is used lightly or for comedic relief, instead Christ as the Master Shepherd is showing us how drastically we need Him and His Word to survive. Without Christ we would be directionless, unnourished, and driven off course by every whim and empty promise this life offers. Yet with Christ leading us, we can have full assurance that the Shepherd will look after His flock, and as long as we obey Him we can rest assured in the hope of Salvation.