Summary: I want us to take some time to gaze upon this shepherd of ours, and I want to talk with you for a little while about some of the traits that He has.
Have you ever heard or participated in a discussion about which animal humans are most like? Scientists have often tried to liken us with other animals. Lab tests for different medicines and immunizations are performed on rats and mice since their bodily functions are similar to humans. We’ve been compared with ants and bees because they, like us, are social creatures that live in structured societies. Psychologists liken us to dolphins because of the similar ratio of brain mass to body size. Over the years our culture has become inundated with Darwin’s theory that we are the descendants of apes. Now by the looks of some of us, that theory may be true. You knew that was coming, didn’t you?
Maybe you’ve heard the story of the monkey that was walking out of the library with the Bible under one arm and Darwin’s “Origin of the Species” under the other. A bystander saw him and asked, “Mr. Monkey, what kind of research are you doing?” Mr. Monkey replied, “I’m trying to find out whether I’m my brother’s keeper or my keeper’s brother.”
So the question is, which animal are humans most like? Or maybe the way we prefer to ask the question, which animal is most like humans? Well, in several passages of the Bible, God draws up a comparison that I believe fits us a little better than bees or dolphins or even monkeys. Can anyone tell me what animal we are likened to in Scripture? Sheep. David repeatedly compares us to sheep. Ps. 100:3… we are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Ps. 79:13… We thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever. Isaiah wrote All we like sheep have gone astray. Jesus as well compares us to sheep several times throughout the Gospels. The Bible likens us to sheep.
Now, to be honest with you, I don’t know how much I appreciate being compared to a sheep. Sheep really aren’t my favorite animals. They smell bad and to me they aren’t the brightest creatures to roam the face of the earth. I don’t know that they are the dumbest animals alive. I mean, some recent studies have shown how good of a memory sheep have. But honestly, how many animals do you know of that will walk into a corner and then not be able to figure out how to get out of it? How many animals do you know of that will roll over onto their back and then not know how to get up on their feet again? To me that’s just kind of dumb. And the bad thing is it happens often. A sheep is not an animal that I necessarily want to be likened to. And it’s not just because I think they’re dumb. But sheep are defenseless. I mean, look at all the other animals in the animal kingdom. Most of them have ways to defend themselves. A bear has his strength and his claws. Lions have their powerful jaws. Snakes have their venom. Porcupines have their darts. Even skunks are able to defend themselves with their scent. Most animals have some sort of defense, but not sheep. As a result of that trait, sheep are also timid and afraid. Their stubborn creatures of habit. They don’t have good eye sight. They get lost easily. They demand a lot of attention and work. I don’t really like being likened to a sheep.
But you know, as I think about it, maybe we as humans are a lot more like sheep than we like to admit. Maybe some of those traits like fearfulness and stubbornness and demanding of attention are a bigger part of us than we think. Maybe the Lord was right when He compared us to sheep. And really, the more I think about it, maybe it isn’t so bad after all. Maybe it’s not so bad to be a sheep when we read verses like John 10:11,14 where Jesus says I am the good shepherd and the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep and I know my sheep and they know me. Maybe it’s not so bad to be a sheep when we read verses like 1 Peter 5:4… And when the chief shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. Maybe it’s not so bad being a sheep when Jesus is our Shepherd. In fact, I like the idea of being part of the Lord’s flock, don’t you? I can handle being a sheep when I know that Jesus is my Shepherd.
This evening I want us to take some time to gaze upon this shepherd of ours, and I want to talk with you for a little while about some of the traits that He has, some of the activities that He has taken upon Himself. You can find this description of Him in the book of Isaiah 40:9-11…