Out of all the animals in the Bible, humans are associated with sheep. Not horses, not oxes, not even pigs. We are not compared to squirrels, birds, dogs, or even a beastly animal like a lion. No. We are compared to sheep.
For some reason, God in his omniscience, saw a correlation, a resemblance between the people that He created and sheep.
Sheep are not the sharpest tools in the shed. A few french fries short of a Happy Meal, The Dummies series of books were made for sheep.
I. Sheep Are Stupid
Sheep are worried about everything. They live in a constant state of anxiousness. It is hard for a sheep to rest. Always being on edge causes them to be easily excited. When frightened or afraid, sheep have a tendency to charge straight to danger or run from it usually causing them some type of physical harm.
Sheep refuse to act independently. Their ability to form flocks are both a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that when an animal like a coyote comes, not all of the flock die, just the ones that the coyote gets. It is a curse because if one sheep gets an inclination to run into a thorn bush, go outside the pasture to danger, or jump off a cliff, the rest of the flock will follow.
The Bible says no less than 365 times that you should not fear or worry. Jesus says in Matthew 6 that we are not to be anxious because the Father knows what we need and desires to provide those things for us.
We are told in Romans 8:12-14 that we should put to death the desires of the flesh. Those who live by the Spirit are sons (children) of God. When you live by the Spirit – you are led, guided and the Spirit influences your decisions and you see changes in your passions and desires causing them to become more gospel centered because you are becoming more like Christ.
II. Sheep Are Stubborn
Sheep are prone to wander. They will tend to wander away from the flock. Even when they are safely guarded by a fence in the protection of a shepherd, they try to find ways outside of the fence.
The fence that the Shepherd sets up is not a prison. It is boundaries, parameters set up so that the sheep can rest, and eat and socialize safely without fear of being eaten or harming themselves. Sheep resist those parameters.
The same thing happens to Christians who do not want to be discipled. Instead of developing a zealous passion for pursuing Jesus, they develop this tendency to resist the parameters set up by Jesus.
They allow their hearts to wander. When an undiscipled Christian or baby Christian wanders you can usually see signs in their lives such as:
Failure to spend time with God in His Word
Failure to make disciples
Failure to see God as their Daddy, provider, protector, sustainer
Failure to live by faith
Failure to be led and guided by the Holy Spirit
When a sheep wanders, it is up to the Shepherd to go and find the sheep before a coyote or other enemy destroys the sheep. Upon finding the sheep, the Shepherd sometimes must drag the sheep by the neck back to the protection of the fence. The dragging is a result of the resistance of the sheep not wanting to be led by the shepherd. So, the shepherd must use the curved portion of his staff to grab the sheep by the neck and lead it back to the fence.
Once the sheep is back in the safety of the fence, the shepherd will break the leg of the sheep. You can call this discipline or correction. What the breaking of the leg does, is teach the sheep there are consequences from wandering away from the care and protection of the shepherd.
You will not go through your journey of conforming to the image of Jesus apart from discipline. Conviction and repentance is going to happen somewhere along that path. You will not make it to Heaven without a limp.
III. Sheep Need Safety And Security
John 10:3-4, 11, 27-29
The sheep need the Shepherd. They need the fence. They need the flock.
Baby sheep need the company of the other sheep so that they can live, grow, and thrive. In essence they need this community to learn how to be sheep. The Bible says that older men should teach the younger men and older women should teach younger women. This needs to be brought back into our churches. It connects the generation and helps the younger generation to learn from the older generation. The older generation provides mentoring, discipleship and wisdom as they pour into the lives of the younger generation.
Sheep need the fence. The fence sets up parameters or boundaries. It keeps them safe from coyotes and other animals that would eat them. The fence provides an environment for the sheep to rest, sleep, be social and enjoy their life without the worries of a hostile enemy coming in to eat them.
Jesus gives us parameters to not take away our freedoms but to give us more freedom. God gave us sex. Sex is great. Sex is fun. It is to be enjoyed only in the parameters of a one man and one woman marriage. God designed it this way.
We also do not shy away from talking about alcohol. Alcohol is not a sin. Drinking alcohol is not a sin. If you want to have a beer with your burger or a glass of wine with dinner, go ahead. However, the Bible is clear on not getting drunk. It is all about self control. If you know that you have a tendency to overdo it and your actions lead to drunkenness, then you should not drink. If your personal preference is that you do not believe in the consumption of alcohol, fine, don’t drink. However, that is your personal belief and not in the Bible.
Sheep need the Shepherd. Psalm 23:1 says that the Lord is our Shepherd and we shall not want. We shall not want….for anything. When you are afraid, when you fear, when you are stressed out, it is because you do not trust your Shepherd. Trust the Shepherd, not your 401K, not your IRA, not your paycheck.
There is great comfort in knowing that the Shepherd has you and will not let go. You belong to him and he loves you. You need to learn his voice when he calls to you. Many voices are calling out to you. The one you listen to will be your shepherd. Make sure that you push all other voices aside so that you can focus on listening to the voice of Jesus.
Ultimately, there will come a time in the life of the sheep that because they know the shepherd they hear him and obey him. They obey the voice of their shepherd.
There has to come a time in the life of a sheep when once you have passed from death to life, you go from being a dead sheep to a living sheep and from knowledge to obedience. Maturity, going deep, being a disciple is about being the hands and feet of Jesus. It is not about what you know as much as it is about what you do with what you know. Be doers of the Word and not hearers only.
Fall in love and passionately pursue your Shepherd, Jesus.