Originally published Wednesday, 16 September 2015.
If you have been in the church any amount of time, or are knowledgeable of the teachings of Jesus on some level, you are probably familiar with Jesus comparing people to sheep and revealing that He is our Good Shepherd. Some verses that immediately come to mind could include:
All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)
I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. (John 10:11)
Earlier this month, a report came out of Australia that a merino ram was found who had not been shorn in his entire five or six years of living. He was indeed a lost sheep! This sheep they are calling, Chris, was carrying on his body the burden of 89 pounds of wool. That is the equivalent of 30 sweaters. Talk about needing to clean out your winter wear! Normally merino's will bear, on average, 11 pounds of wool annually.
According to the TIME article, Chris had to be anesthetized to be sheared by a champion shearer. Prior to his shearing, he had a difficult time getting around and was hesitant with human interaction. Following the shearing of a lifetime, he moved about much better and wanted a pat from his caretakers.
While the wool is not in good condition to be sold, some hope it will be displayed in a museum. The fact is, Chris would most likely have died if he had not been rescued from his burden of wool when he was.
I can't help but contrast my own story, each of our stories, with that of this Australian sheep, Chris. The Bible is true, we all like sheep have gone astray. However, gratefully, Jesus took the unbearable, damming weight of our sin on himself.
Even when we come to the place where we are given new life in Christ, our salvation point, our conversion experience, we remain sheep. Today, I would like to ask you, what kind of sheep are you? A lost sheep, within the fold, a sent sheep, a leadersheep?
Read on and consider that question along with these descriptions:
The lost sheep:
What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance. (Luke 15:4-7)
Perhaps you are a lost sheep never shorn of your burden of sin. Much like, Chris, the merino ram from Australia. Today can be the day of salvation for you. Today can be the day that you lay down your burden of sin to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with the Creator God through His Son, Jesus Christ. (Read more here.)
The wandering, overburdened sheep:
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
Some of us find ourselves wandering in the pastures or on the hillsides of life carrying burdens never meant to bear alone. Jesus sees our everyday demands and desires for us to give them to Him. To take His yoke upon us. That doesn't mean that all our responsibilities will diminish; some might, but not all. I think the point is, we submit our burdens and our cares to God and Jesus carries them for us. He gives us new eyes to see each task and an eternal perspective from which to draw from. Sometimes laying down our burdens will require relinquishing some of our daily activities, but that doesn't mean letting go of all responsibilities and living carefree. That's not the model of a work ethic Jesus gave us. However, the model He did leave for us was that of rising early to pray, and taking every thing to God in prayer and praise.
The sent sheep:
“Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. (Matthew 10:16)
This sheep should be one we all identify with if we are disciples of Christ Jesus. The saved are the sent. We are to live on mission in this world each and everyday. Just take a look at the headlines, those in Christ Jesus can expect to see more wolves the longer we live; conversely, we should also expect to rescue more sheep that are astray. I think of this week's headlines of Kentucky county clerk, Kim Davis. (Read more here.) As I write this, Kim is sitting in a jail cell in Kentucky because she refuses to lay her faith and covenant with Jesus Christ on the alter of the world's standards. She is being, like a growing number in our country and thousands around the world, a Daniel in her day.
The leader sheep... yes, even sheep can lead:
Some leadersheep characteristics include:
- a natural inclination to lead the flock.
- an awareness of impending danger from predators and inclement weather.
- managing the pace of the flock.
- either male or female.
- also warier than other sheep.
- interestingly, they have more than one gait, like the Icelandic horse.
- they always take the lead, even within a new flock of sheep to which they have never belonged before.
Are you a leader/teacher among your brothers and sisters in Christ? Leading brings more strict judgement by God. Consider:
Not many of you should become teachers, my brothers, for you know that we who teach will be judged with greater strictness. (James 3:1)
We need strong, godly, kingdom-driven leaders in our day. The gate is narrow and the way is hard. If God has designed you as a leader, then lead with all diligence as unto Him.
SO... what sheep do you most identify with? What is the Good Shepherd telling you today? He is ever guiding, it us up to His sheep to obey his voice.