Sheep and shepherd

You must have seen little lambs in the meadow during spring. Nice sight, isn’t it, as they leap and jump and chase each other. And when go to their mothers and drink. What you see less often is when the mother sheep and their lambs are being sent inside. They don’t always like that. But they have to, when it is too cold for them, or when a vet needs to examine them.

It is also possible that somebody needs to shear them. Whatever the reason, the farmer of the shepherd is the boss. Without a shepherd the sheep would get lost or they would drown in a ditch or get involved in some other kind of accident. They could starve from hunger or get sick; and there would not be any kind of care for them.

Imagine that one of the sheep would run away. What a risk for that sheep! You can be sure that the shepherd would do anything in order not to loose his sheep. Because of the dangers and because he will miss his sheep. If necessary he would follow his sheep and leave the others behind. He knows they would not run away. He knows them by name, like every sheep has a name.

A good shepherd has a relationship with each sheep and each little lamb in his flock. He wants to care for them. And each smart sheep wants that care very much, even though it is not always aware of the threatening dangers outside the flock. And yet sometime there are sheep who run away. They’d rather choose freedom than living in the flock in which they grew up. With all the risks involved. That kind of sheep doesn’t want to listen to the shepherd, even though he called his sheep to please come back.

Yeshua talks about this. He says: “Who of you shepherds would not, when he has a hundred sheep under his care and looses one, leave the ninety-nine behind in the wilderness in order to look for the one lost, until he finds it?” (Luke 15:4). And He continues by saying that He would lift up that sheep and carry it back on His shoulders to the flock. Do you realize what that kind of sheep has done? That kind of sheep has chosen to allowing to be lifted up! Because believe me, sheep who do not want it, do no allow to be lifted up in order to be brought back.

In His story Yeshua compares the sheep that wants to return and come back with people. He means people who chose for their freedom by desiring to live without a shepherd. But they allow to be carried back! They realized that they lost the way and then choose to come back. So what Yeshua says is that there are sheep who are aware of their mistake and want to return at the moment the shepherd calls them (see Luke 15, verse 7). There are also sheep (read: people) who choose to not returning back. The only thing of them the shepherd will see is a stinking pile of droppings! The shepherd is willing, but the sheep is not!

Now we are talking about sheep who choose to be blind for their own mistakes. For that choice a shepherd, read: leader of a congregation, needs to show respect. Otherwise it would become a strange situation. And if we leave such a person to him or herself, there is the possibility that he or she finds the right choice. But if there are other people who will comfort them and visit them, then this person, this sheep, never learn which the mistakes were she or he made. And that can have very serious results for the sheep, the person. That is something nobody would like to have on his conscience. So let’s learn to be good sheep; and to stay that way!

Text of the month: “I have gone astray like a lost sheep. Look for me. I want to be your servant, for I do not forget your commandments.” (Psalms 119:176)