“11 I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 14 I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me.15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay my life down for the sheep.” John 10:11, 14-15
I don’t really know much about sheep. I’ve never met one in person. I’ve heard a lot about sheep from sermons. Speakers usually say they’re stupid animals that get lost, and they need a shepherd. That surprises me though because how would sheep exist before shepherds existed. I dunno. Then the pastor would say we are the sheep and we are all stupid without Christ. Recently, I heard a sermon that simply explained that there are two important things about sheep.
One, they are prone to wander.
Two, they are treasures.
Sheep within that culture were a provider of multiple resources that outweighed the burden they were. Now, not everyone was a shepherd, and most people didn’t want to be. Shepherds were forever unclean, because they were always around animals. They couldn’t worship in the temple. Their testimony wasn’t even valid in a court of law. Yet, these men take this position for the value of the sheep. If the sheep weren’t valuable, who would waste their time looking after them?
Sheep themselves wander. Wool covers their eyes. They fall into holes. Animals attack them. They’re dirty. Honorable majestic animals, they are not. The shepherd will risk his own life to save the sheep from whatever peril the sheep is in. He is willing to wade through the mud to unstick the sheep. He is willing to navigate the cliff because the sheep was overconfident but now too stricken by fear to move. The shepherd loves the sheep.
The shepherd is also willing to break the legs of the sheep. He breaks the sheep’s leg and then carries the sheep. After the leg heals, the sheep will stay next to the shepherd because that’s what the sheep is now used to. It’s emotionally difficult to break the legs of something you love. Still, the shepherd loves the sheep that much.
We are the sheep. Christ is the shepherd. Though we are prone to wander, we are still valuable. We are not valuable simply on our own, but value has been given and placed upon us. That’s important for us to remember as we feel like we’re nothing or feel like we’re everything.
That’s the difficulty I’m in when I teach this, because we feel like everything and then a second later feel like we’re nothing. When we say “I struggle with pride” it’s not so much a struggle of arrogance, but also a struggle of insecurity. In essence, both of those problems focus on self. That’s why it’s common to find arrogance and insecurity in the same person at different times. It’s both a focus on self.
The cure though is not to sit down, document, and analyze all the moments we are arrogant or insecure. As if a greater focus on self will cure our already present focus on self. No, the answer is a focus on Jesus.
“We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.” Hebrews 12:2
A focus on Jesus looks like reading the scriptures and praying. We ask and search for what Jesus wants us to do. It’s talking to our friends about what Jesus has done and is doing in our lives. It’s being honest and letting Jesus know how we feel about the season of life we are in right now. It’s thanking Jesus. We don’t just treat Him like a boss, but also as our loving Father.
Ponder for a second how God in His great justice is willing to forgive every sin we’ve ever done. Sin that is worthy of death, and was paid for by Jesus’ gruesome death. He doesn’t become ignorant of what we’ve done, and yet we have the righteousness of Christ. And He likes us! The fact that the all-powerful creator of the universe enjoys my company is hard for me to grasp.
As sheep, we see ourselves as prone to wander, and treasures. Then we see our neighbors that way too: wandering treasures. Today, I just wanted to remind us of that, but in the end the focus is Christ.