Summary: Examining why we don’t want to be led by God
1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters,
3 he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.
5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
6 Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.
1 "I tell you the truth, the man who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber.
2 The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep.
3 The watchman opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.
5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice."
6 Jesus used this figure of speech, but they did not understand what he was telling them.
7 Therefore Jesus said again, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep.
8 All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.
9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. He will come in and go out, and find pasture.
10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
11 "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
Psalm 23 has a very clear and comforting image of God leading us as a shepherd leads his flock.
The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures,
he leads me beside quiet waters,
he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
This is beautiful imagery of God leading us in paths of righteousness for his names sake.
One of the elders was telling me the other day that sheep really are dumb animals. This elder told me that there is even one breed of sheep that is so dumb that if it falls on its back, it physically and mentally does not have the ability to get up. It will die there.
I don’t know if that is true or not, but I have also heard the same thing all my life.
And whether or not that is true in itself, what is true is that sheep are dumb animals.
But one thing we probably all know is that sheep can be led.
I enjoy watching David Letterman on TV late at night sometimes, and he has had on more than one occasion a taxi cab pull up to the front of the Ed Sullivan Theater where Letterman’s show is taped. The door of the cab is opened and out come half a dozen sheep and two sheep dogs. These two dogs can lead these sheep out of a New York taxi cab, into the Ed Sullivan Theater, through the lobby (where a special red carpet has been laid in advance for their welcome), down the aisles, and onto the stage where David Letterman is waiting. Then the dogs lead the sheep back up the aisle, through the lobby, out the door and back into the cab, which then drives off.
Sheep are dumb, but people are dumber! Because a sheep will let itself be led by a dog, but people won’t be led even by God almighty.
The imagery in the psalm is comforting -- up to a point. Green grass. Quiet waters. Then you have this valley of the shadow of death!
God leads us in some strange places, and sometimes, we don’t want to go where God leads.
St. Stephen is remembered in the Book of Acts as the first martyr of the church. He said in his first and last sermon: "You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!” (Acts 7:51)
And we do this all the time.
God leads us to speak, and we stay silent.