Having shepherded a flock of young and old believers for nearly twenty years, I have grown to love the metaphor of pastures, sheep and loving shepherds. This blog is dedicated to such pastoral prerogatives. I am best known as “Pasture Scott” to many and have gladly given my life to the sheep He has put in my fold. Christ Jesus, Peter tells us, is the Chief Shepherd, which makes me His under-shepherd. I accept that. Wouldn’t have it any other way.
The Lord Christ has been my example and has been faithful to cultivate a pastor’s heart in me. The picture of Jesus as the “Good” Shepherd in John 10 is an endearing template. In the language our Savior used, the word means ‘skilled’ and the Greek that translates it is kalos which is defined as ‘fine, beautiful (which outrays from inner grace and nobility)’. Our Lord is a skillful shepherd who is breathtakingly beautiful to watch work.
Through the years of ministry, there’s one thing I know about sheep: I am one. You thought I’d say they were smelly, stupid and gullible, didn’t you? We often like to use the negative comparisons but sheep have admirable traits as well. I’ve learned that sheep have mutual love for other sheep in their fold. They will eat with heads together, sometimes 3 and 4 heads so close they seem part of the same body. Sheep also have memories of even the simplest acts of kindness, never taking a shepherd’s bravery to fend off a wolf or his leading the flock to safe pasture. Sheep remember. And give thanks with their affection.
Their mutual love is only eclipsed by their love for their shepherd. They will leave their friends behind to follow their leader. Sheep make excellent mothers as well, doting over their young with the tenderest of bleats. And sheep demonstrate incredible trust and patience. When in the hands of the shearer, they may struggle briefly, but once they realize they cannot break free, will settle in and relax until the trial is over. When hurt, they neither resist or resent healing hands dressing their wounds.
Recently I read an account of friends helping with the care of a couple of lambs. Two young daughters were given the responsibility to raise one lamb each for a 4-H project. Part of their daily avocation included walking the lambs around the farm, getting them used to a harness and following a leader. The girls went away for a weekend camp in the summer and their dad enlisted some friends to help walk the lambs while the girls were away.
Once harnessed, the two left the barn with the little woolen kids in tow. Not a few feet out, however, one of the lambs dug his hooves in and refused to go a step further. A few tugs on the line didn’t help; he merely laid down. The other lamb witnessed the attrition and did likewise. Down they both lay and would not budge. No amount of picking up and chiding helped win the situation. Tugging the harness once, the lambs went down again. Another tug, they rolled over.
When it was clear the lambs would not be walked, the grown-ups returned the kids to the barn. Later they learned the lambs wouldn’t cooperate because they were used to little people walking them. The grown men intimidated the poor things. They weren’t being hard-headed, they were afraid and because they didn’t know these strangers; they did not follow them because they could not trust them.
Are you a sheep? Lift your head high and give a bleat-out to your posse. Loving one another is part of your pedigree. So is relaxing when the Shepherd is around. And you obey because you love your Chief Shepherd and would even sacrifice friendships to go where He leads.
And don’t forget the best part of all: your Elder Brother is Himself a Lamb forever (see Revelation 5:6).