A conversation with a shepherd may help us to understand why Jesus used sheep as a reference to people. Like humans, sheep are instinctively fearful and resist change. They have to be led to food and be protected from predators. They like to gather together, but will wonder away from the ﬂock when not paying attention. And, a few sheep can lead the others astray.
Thousands of years ago, the prophet, Isaiah, was describing us when he wrote: “All of us, like sheep, have strayed away. We have left God’s path to follow our own, straying from what is right.”
So, why is it we leave God’s path to follow our own? Is it because we think the grass is greener on the other side of the hill? Is it because we are content; that is, until we get into trouble? Or, are we just so misguided that we think that following our own path is somehow better than the one God has planned for us?
Today, shepherds herd sheep. But in Jesus time, the shepherd led his sheep. Jesus is The Good Shepherd of the 23rd Psalm who leads me to green meadows and beside still water, renewing my strength and restoring my soul; who comforts and protects me in the darkest valley and ﬁlls my life with blessings until it overﬂows. And, He is the one who leads me back to God’s path when I stray away on my own.
With a Shepherd like that, I have all that I need.