Today I want to talk to you about sheep. Now everything I know about sheep came from someone else’s experience. That’s because I was born in downtown Detroit and San Angelo is the smallest town I’ve lived in. I did figure out, though, that sheep must be pretty important here in San Angelo. After all, why else would they have a statue of a sheep down by the river? Anyway, the conclusion I’ve come to about sheep is that they are not very smart. Here’s why I think that. A friend of mine back in Iowa had some sheep at his place. He also had a small out building on his property. One day he came out and he saw that the sheep were all walking around the small building. They had formed a circle completely around the building and just kept walking. There was no leader and each one of them was simply following the one in front of them. He said that this kept going on for several minutes while he watched. This same friend also told me that if sheep are following each other like that and you put a stick in front of one of them to jump over, that each following sheep will jump at the same spot even after you take the stick away. It sure makes me glad that I’m not a sheep. Aren’t you glad that we humans never just wander around following the crowd?
But wait. The Bible does talk about us like sheep. And from God’s perspective we must look about as smart as sheep. For instance, in the Old Testament, King David, who was a former shepherd, wrote Psalm 23 where he compares himself to a sheep. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul.” It sounds to me like David is not saying that God thinks of us like dumb sheep but that he loves us and wants to care for us. Jesus did the same thing in the New Testament when he said that he was the Good Shepherd and that his sheep know his voice.
So what does this all mean to us? First, it means that God will love and care for us but we need to accept his guidance. That’s what David means when he says “Your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” Second, Jesus expects us to love and care for each other. Jesus called Peter “the Rock” and used him to help found the church. And how was Peter commissioned for the job? Well, Jesus simply asked Peter if he loved him then, when Peter said “yes”, Jesus simply replied “then feed my sheep”. And so it is today, Jesus calls each of us to be in community and to love and care for each other.