Sheep. They are the animals which our Lord used as the primary illustration of our relationship with Him.
When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.
Matthew 9:36 ESV
Shepherding sheep is something that was understood and seen throughout Israel and the Middle East countries: indeed, it still is. Thousands of years ago, when King David wrote Psalm 23, he presented a beautiful picture of the Good Shepherd.
A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psalm 23:1-3 ESV
The shepherd provides all that the sheep need. The shepherd leads the flock to green pastures, to fresh grass, to comfortable resting places, things that are sometimes difficult to find along the barren hillside. The shepherd takes the flock to still waters. Why still water? Because the shepherd knows that if the water is rushing past, it could kill the sheep if the animal slips and its fleece becomes soaked with water, thereby drowning the poor animal . Calm water, though, provides welcome refreshment to the flock without danger.
Flocks can be very large as the shepherds combine flocks and they then all take care of the sheep combined together. But, the shepherd can call his sheep and they will come to him, even if they are part of a large combined flock. Jesus references this in John chapter 10:
To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. …
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. …
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
John 10:3-4, 14-16,27 ESV
Jesus is the Good Shepherd. He knows His sheep and when He calls them by name, they come to Him and He leads them out of the fold. He is the Good Shepherd and His flock is one united flock, even though it is comprised of sheep from various sheepfolds. The sheep Jesus saw before Him were the Israelites in the area; but His sheep come, not only from Israel, but from the Gentile nations of the world. That is what Jesus is talking about when He said “And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also.”
So, are you one of the sheep in Jesus’ flock? There is a song that is sometimes sung around the campfire by children and youth, but it expresses the desire to know Jesus and to be one of His sheep.
I just want to be a sheep, I just want to be a sheep.
I pray the Lord my soul to keep, I just want to be a sheep.
Are you a sheep in His fold?
Lord, thank You for being the Good Shepherd, and I praise Your Name for lovingly bringing me into the fold. I thank You that You know my name, and I pray that I would respond and come to You when You call.
When we were in Nashville recently, we took a trip to Lane Motor Museum. The recommendation from the hotel “things to see and do” data sheet indicated that this would be a worthwhile excursion.
We found the museum to be fun, educational and interesting, even to me as a non-car person! (Regarding that last characterization statement: When I rented a car for work travel, my husband would ask “what car did you drive” and I would respond “a blue one”.)
The museum was truly interesting and it showcased the fact that the design of vehicles is open to interpretation and what is beautiful for one may not be the same for another.
According to the information card by the vehicle, the 1951 Hoffman was designed and built by Michael Hoffman. It has 3 wheels, small engine, slow speed, and rear wheel steering. The vehicle’s handling, again according to the information card, was like “a drunk leaving a hotel bar”.
During a video tour of the museum, one of the speakers made a statement that resonated with me. He was pointing out the wide variety of exhibits in the museum, vehicles with 2-wheels, 3-wheels, 4-wheels, and even 1 wheel.
Here’s a picture of the 1-wheel vehicle, the 1998 McLean Wheel!
The McLean Wheel is a monowheel. In other words, it is one big wheel with the rider and the engine inside the circumference. It differs from a unicycle which has the rider above the wheel. The monowheel depends on a gyroscopic effect to keep it upright. Like a bicycle, it is unstable at slow speeds. At 15 mph, you can put your feet on the footpegs. Turning is accomplished by leaning. Obviously, it takes patience and practice to learn to successfully ride the monowheel.
Returning to the video, the museum representative said all the exhibits in the museum were intended to do just one thing – transport a person from one place to another. (That’s not a word-for-word quote, but the meaning is the same.) People have thought up a variety of ways to accomplish this one goal; but, the fundamental purpose for each of these vehicles is the same.
When listening to the video, I saw this museum as an analogy of mankind seeking God. Many people look to various philosophies, programs, and rituals in their attempt to achieve a relationship with God. Good works are done with the hope that it will appease God and, when all is tallied up at the end of our life, we will have more on the good side than on the bad side – so God will have to let us into heaven.
The desire is the same; the goal is the same; it is just that the methods are different. Indeed, there are even bumper stickers that assert that all religions are the same. If we are sincere in what we are doing, it will all work out right in the end!
Not so, Holy Scripture says. Running around acting religious or trying hard will not do the trick. In Mark we read that after Jesus had been teaching, he wanted to go to a desolate place to get away from the press of the crowd. He got into a boat and left the area.
“When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. And he began to teach them many things.” – [Mark 6:34 ESV]
In teaching about the way to get to heaven and to live eternally, He created a word picture that the people would readily understand, sheep in the sheepfold with the shepherd watching over them. We may not have experience with this, but the hearers of our Lord Jesus certainly did. He said:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.” – [John 10:1-3 ESV]
“I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture…. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” – [John 10:9, 11 ESV]
A bit later in John, Jesus is explicit in his teaching, no confusion here … He said:
“I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” – [John 14:6 ESV]
Jesus is saying that He, and only He, is the way to God. There is no other. If you want to spend eternity with God in heaven, you must come by way of Jesus Christ, the One who redeemed you when He sacrificed His body on the cross, Who rose from the dead the third day, and Who now sits at the right hand of God the Father.
There are a host of designs for automobiles and vehicles for transport of persons and packages. The purpose is the same and each design fulfills that singular purpose.
But this is diametrically opposed to what happens when people seek God in their own way.
There are many religions, philosophies, plans, religious systems, and rituals that have the same purpose of seeking God. But, while the purpose is the same, the result is not. All of man’s attempts to reach God will fail miserably; in short they will not achieve the purpose of eternal life with God in heaven.
God has given us the Way to Him in His Word. There is only one Way to go to the Father, and that is through Jesus Christ.
All roads do not reach the same destination – and all methods of religion do not suffice for achieving eternal life in heaven.
“if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” – [Romans 10:9-10 ESV]
The way to reach heaven and eternal life is singular … it is through belief in and reliance upon the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. Seek Him, and you shall be saved.
Father, I thank you that you sent your Son to be our Savior and that He came so that we would have life eternal. I pray that your Word would become real to each person reading this prayer and that, if they have not come to Jesus in faith, your Spirit would quicken them, in Jesus name I pray.