Summary: The Bible compares us to sheep. We all tend to wander and need a Shepherd. As sheep in God's pasture, choose well who you listen to and follow. The Good Shepherd leads us faithfully, firmly, yet lovingly.
Lessons from the Sheep Pen
Intro: [Play youtube clip of crazy sheep sounds]
-Yes, the Bible really does compare us to sheep. But as crazy as what you’ve just heard sounds, it is nothing compared to the craziness that comes from people, whether out of their mouths or out of their lives.
1. Sheep Tend to Wander
Isaiah 53:6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Psalm 119:176 I have strayed like a lost sheep. Seek your servant, for I have not forgotten your commands.
2. Jesus Cares about Lost Sheep
Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
-HELPLESS ON MY OWN
In his book, "A Shepherd Looks at the Twenty-third Psalm," Philip Keller says that sheep require more attention than any other livestock. They just can’t take care of themselves.
Unless their shepherd makes them move on, sheep will actually ruin a pasture, eating every blade of grass, until finally a fertile pasture is nothing but barren soil. Sheep are near-sighted & very stubborn, but easily frightened. An entire flock can be stampeded by a jack rabbit.
They have little means of defense. They’re timid, feeble creatures. Their only recourse is to run if no shepherd is there to protect them. Sheep have no homing instincts. A dog, horse, cat, or a bird can find its way home, but when a sheep gets lost, it’s a goner unless someone rescues it.
So the over-riding principle of Psalm 23 is that sheep can’t make it without a shepherd.
[SOURCE: Melvin Newland in "The Lord Is My Shepherd" on www.sermoncentral.com.]
3. Jesus Seeks Lost Sheep
Luke 15:4-6 4 "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? 5 And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders 6 and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, 'Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.'
-Illus: The boss of a big company needed to call one of his employees about an urgent problem with one of the main computers. He dialed the employee’s home telephone number and was greeted with a child’s whispered, "Hello?"
Feeling put out at the inconvenience of having to talk to a youngster, the boss asked, "Is your Daddy home?" "Yes," whispered the small voice.
"May I talk with him?" the man asked. To the surprise of the boss, the small voice whispered, "No."
Wanting to talk with an adult, the boss asked, "Is your Mommy there?"
"Yes," came the answer.
"May I talk with her?" Again, the small voice whispered, "No."
Knowing that it was not likely that a young child would be left home alone, the boss decided he would just leave a message with the person who should be there watching over the child. "Is there anyone there besides you?" the boss asked the child.
"Yes," whispered the child, "a policeman."
Wondering what a cop would be doing at his employee’s home, the boss asked,
"May I speak with the policeman?"
"No, he is busy," whispered the child.
"Busy doing what?" asked the boss.
"Talking to Daddy and Mommy and the Fireman," came the whispered answer.
Growing concerned and even worried as he heard what sounded like a helicopter through the ear piece on the phone, the boss asked, "What is that noise?"
"A hello-copper," answered the whispering voice.
"What is going on there?" asked the boss, now alarmed.
In an awed whispering voice, the child answered, "The search team just landed the hello-copper!"
Alarmed, concerned and more than just a little frustrated, the boss asked,
"Why are they there?"
Still whispering, the young voice replied (along with a muffled giggle), "They are looking for me!" [Christian Cheong, SC]
-Jesus is looking for lost sheep, but does not force Himself on anyone. A lost sheep must admit that he or she is lost, and then be willing to receive help from the Shepherd.
4. Marks of “Found” Sheep
1. They return to the Lord
1 Peter 2:24-25 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; by his wounds you have been healed. 25 For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.
-Phillip Keller again wrote about a “cast-down” sheep and what the shepherd does to get him back on his feet. “When sheep lay on their back, gas begins to collect in their stomach. It hardens the stomach, cuts off the air passage and they suffocate. Not only that, their legs go numb in that position. They need a shepherd to restore them. When a shepherd restores a cast down sheep, it doesn’t just happen immediately. It takes time. The shepherd lovingly massages the four legs to get some circulation back. Then he begins to talk in a reassuring tone to the sheep, "You’re going to make it." Then he gently turns the sheep over and lifts it up because it cannot stand up on its own. He’ll hold the animal there while the sheep begins to get some equilibrium. The blood begins to flow in the legs again and it begins to get some stability. When the shepherd is sure that the sheep can stand on its own, then the shepherd will lovingly have the sheep follow him home.”