Like water spilt on the ground the past year has passed through the sands of time. It’s impossible to gather it up or improve upon it.
Forever, it is what it is and it ain’t what it ain’t!
Exploding deficits, oil spills, corrupt politicians (who are probably at home right now working on their smiles.) and nuclear nations jockeying for power are forever the latest breaking news. If you reminiscence upon the world’s news long enough your horizon will become as bleak as a mid-winter’s storm. It’s enough to make your head explode.
I want to emphasize something far more positive.
The Good Shepherd For A Good Year
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep. 12 But a hireling, he who is not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches the sheep and scatters them. 13 The hireling flees because he is a hireling and does not care about the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. 15 As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
Of the seven great “I Am” sayings of Jesus Christ I chose this one for the New Year because deep down inside each one of us we realize that we require guidance to make our way down the bumpy road of life.
Think about it. How many times in the past year have you asked someone for their opinion ( or vice-versa) on a decision that you faced…everything from…what to wear or where to eat or how to handle a marital crisis? All people need guidance and they seek it everywhere from horoscopes to psychics-from parents to pastors. We all do it because we all need guidance from time to time.
Now, to give you a word picture to help you understand why this is true, let me pose a question:
Which animal are you and I most like?
There are several different opinions these days.
Charles Darwin of course claimed that the Monkey was the nearest animal to man and his assertion that we are descendants of apes caused quite a stir. It still does to this day. And like all controversies it has been the source of several jokes. Have you ever heard the one about the ape that was seen ambling out of the public library with a Bible under one arm and a copy of Darwin’s book The Origin of the Species under the other? A passerby asked the ape what kind of research he was doing with those two books and the simian replied, I’m trying to find out whether I’m my brother’s keeper or my keeper’s brother.
Now other scientists-mainly biologists-tend to think that man is most like a Mouse or a Rat. I say this because they base their testing of drugs for potential human use on these rodents…saying that their bodily functions are very similar to our own. I don’t know about you but it’s a little unsettling to me to know that but pretty much whatever makes a rat sick will affect a human in a similar fashion. What does that say about our inner nature?
Some scientists say that we are a lot like Ants or Bees because like humans they are social creatures that live in highly structured societies. Others have recently compared people to Dolphins because of the similar ratio of brain mass to body size.
But in the Bible we are most often compared to another animal A Sheep.
David, the psalmist, a shepherd himself, employed this analogy repeatedly.
In Psalm100:3 he said“…We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.’
In Psalm 77:20 he wrote, “You led Your people like a flock…” Psalm 79:13 says, “We, Your people and sheep of Your pasture, will give You thanks forever;”
And in Psalm 23, his most popular Psalm containing this comparison, David said, “The Lord is my shepherd…. “
It is by design and more times than I can remember that the Scriptures compare us to spiritually lost Sheep.
Sheep Have A terrible Sense of
First of all, no insult intended—I mean you and I are in the same boat here—but sheep on the whole are pretty stupid and stubborn animals. Ask yourself, have you ever seen a group of trained sheep in a circus? Of course not. You’ve seen trained apes and even trained mice or rats or dolphins but not sheep. And you probably never will because sheep are just too simple-minded. They tend to wander off easily, perhaps because they can’t see very far….less than 15 yards. And, no matter how many times you bring wayward sheep back, they are prone to wander off again because they can’t learn from their mistakes.
Sheep Cannot Defend Themselves
Secondly, sheep are defenseless and dependent. They don’t have much of a bite… no natural defense—no claws, no horns, and no fangs….not even a stink bag like a skunk. To make matters worse they are top-heavy and their legs are spindly. This makes them slow. Plus they have no camouflage, so when they are being chased by a wolf they are out of luck…unless they happen to get stuck under a snow bank. Sheep are also susceptible to all kinds of diseases….they will eat too much if you let them and get sick. They are definitely not the “King of the Jungle.”
Sheep Are Easily Frightened
Thirdly, sheep are easily frightened and confused. It doesn’t take much to scramble the simple mental yolk of a nervous sheep. They’ve even been known to plunge straight over the edge of a high precipice in a panic, one following right after another.
Now, God doesn’t compare us to sheep so often in His Word to put us down. He makes this comparison in His book so often because He wants to communicate one very important truth to us. He wants us to know that we are designed to follow Him. We Need a Guide in life. As David wrote in the 23rd Psalm, We need a Shepherd with a “rod and a staff” to protect us.
So When We Read Scriptures like
Isaiah 53:6 where it says, “We all have wandered away like sheep; each of us has gone his own way” (New Century Translation). Mark 9:36 says, “When Jesus saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.”
Texts like this should remind us that we have an inborn need for a spiritual guide.
We Need A Good Shepherd
Jesus is qualified to be our Shepherd because he is a Good Shepherd.
He Proved That He Is the Good Shepherd by laying down His life for His flock. Do you remember what John the Baptist said when He saw Jesus coming to be baptized in the Jordan? “Behold, the Lamb of God, Who comes to take away the sin of the world” (John1:29).
The Shepherd became a The Lamb and died on a cruel cross for us all.
He Knows Us Better Than We Know Ourselves
He is not some stranger, some hired hand paid to do a job. No! Jesus knows us. Perhaps you know that the relationship between sheep and shepherds in Palestine was very different than in other parts of the world. For example, in the USA most sheep are kept for killing and eating but in Palestine most sheep were kept for their wool or milk. So in the land of the Bible, the sheep were often with a shepherd for years-many times from birth throughout their entire lives. Those shepherds Knew their sheep and gave them names!
Jesus knows everything there is to know about you and your life situation. And this is not just an intellectual awareness. This is an intimate knowledge between God in the flesh and His creation. There isn’t a single thought, word or deed that has slipped past his undivided attention.
And not only does He know us…He wants to Guide us through life.
Isaiah 58:11 says, “The Lord will guide you continually”.
In Psalm 32:8 God says to us, “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go; I will counsel you with My eye.”
He Wants You To Know Him
Not Only Does God Know Us….He Wants Us To Know Him.
He wants us to know His Voice.
Sheep may not be too bright but they have enough brain matter to recognize their true Shepherd. And when he calls they will follow. In fact this is how shepherds proved ownership in Jesus’ day. They didn’t have brands or marks. Each shepherd had his own distinctive call and sheep would only respond to that call.
Now Follow The Bouncing Ball Here As You Read The Following Words.
“The Lord Is My Shepherd…” “The Lord Is My Shepherd…”
Do you get the subtle emphasis there? God Can’t-Be and Won’t-Be your Shepherd until you make Him your Lord.
Shepherd’s lead….sheep follow.
He can’t…He won’t lead you—until you commit your life to follow Him.
If you don’t know the Good Shepherd, He is with you right now and He wants to guide your life! He knows you by name! So it is up to you.
Will you accept Him as Savior and follow Him as Lord!
In Doing So You Will Find Yourself As Well!
You’re God and Shepherd is Only A Prayer Away!