Joan Clayton: Religion Columnist
One night while visiting in the living room with friends we heard “pitter-patter” step sounds on our front porch. My husband turned on the porch light and there stood seven little sheep. They stared at him as if to say, “Will you help us please?”
Emmitt opened the gate to the backyard and safely enclosed those cute little balls of wool until he could find the owner. Emmitt, unknowingly, became their shepherd for a while. He fed them and kept cool, clear water in a tub. The sheep followed him around wherever he went displaying their trust and dependence upon him.
Those adorable and gentle little sheep impressed my thinking about my vital need for a “shepherd.”
King David writes about the wonderful characteristics of a shepherd in Psalm 23.
He pictures himself as a sheep, having the same needs from a loving God.
A sheep on its back cannot right itself up. The shepherd watches carefully and runs to its rescue.
“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:10 KJV).
David, loving his sheep with tender mercy, provided their every need. If a sheep wandered away he quickly reclaimed it.
Jesus said, “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home” (Luke 15:4-6 NIV).
Continuing, verse seven states further, “I tell you in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.”
In Bible times shepherds were “sheep gates” for their sheep. Walls were built with branches and stones with only one gate. At night the sheep were herded into the fold and the shepherd lay across the gate, blocking enemies of the sheep. The shepherd became their protector.
Our protector is stated in John 10:7-10: “So Jesus said again, “I tell you the truth, I am the door for the sheep. All the people who came before me were thieves and robbers. The sheep did not listen to them. I am the door, and the person who enters through me will be saved and will be able to come in and go out and find pasture. A thief comes to steal and kill and destroy, but I came to give life — life in all its fullness.” (NCV)
I heard a story about some shepherds who appeared with their flocks at the same watering place. The flocks mingled as they drank. When the time came to go back to their pasture each shepherd called his sheep and they followed their own shepherd. The sheep knew the voice of their shepherd and any other voice they would not follow.
Many voices are clamoring to be heard today. The thief takes life. Jesus gives life. I’m so thankful for my Shepherd and I just love green pastures and still waters. They give me peace in this troubled world.
After many plagues in Egypt Pharaoh still refused to let the Israelites go. God instructed them to put a lamb’s blood on their doorposts so the death angel would see the blood and “passover” their dwelling.
Jesus, the innocent “Lamb of God,” shed his blood willingly for those who repent, accept and obey him. On that great day when the “Chief shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away” (1 Peter 5:4 NIV).
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep” (John 10:11 NCV).
Countless numbers have found solace and peace in Psalm 23. Sheep without a shepherd are in grave danger. Without “The Good Shepherd” so am I!