Jesus Calls His Followers “Sheep,” the Dumbest of all Farm Animals

COPYRIGHT WARNING

Isaiah 53:6a All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way…

John 10:14 I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.

The illustration made by Isaiah is interesting. Human beings are often described in the Bible as like sheep. The dumbest of all farm animals, a sheep will place themselves in constant peril and perish if not for the ever-present care of a watchful shepherd.

As in Isaiah’s description; All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way. Sheep constantly stray and often become lost. They are helpless, defenseless, and lacking in the basic skills of survival. In order for a sheep to survive they need the kind of care described in the 23rd Psalm: A Shepherd who leads, feeds, guides, and protects.

See Prophecy 200 for a complete study on Jesus as our faithful Shepherd.

In this particular section of Isaiah 53, the prophet focuses on this continual wandering of the sheep. Matthew and Luke describe a Parable of Jesus in which He describes one of the sheep who repeatedly goes astray.

The Parable of the Lost Sheep: Matthew 18:10-14, Luke 15:3-7
See all the Parables of the Messiah

Matthew 18:12-14 “What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine and go to the mountains to seek the one that is straying? And if he should find it, assuredly, I say to you, he rejoices more over that sheep than over the ninety-nine that did not go astray. Even so it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.

The importance of each individual person is seen in this parable. Jesus did not die for the world as a “package deal”. He died for each and every unique person. He loves you as much as He loves any other person that He gave His life for. When Jesus was looking ahead from the cross, through all the countless ages of time, He was gazing into your beautiful face, and speaking to you; “I am doing this for you, because I love you so much”.

If you stray from the Lord, because you are so important to Him, He will leave the other sheep who are already with Him, and go out to find you and bring you back to Himself.

There is an interesting story of the early shepherds in Israel.

If a particular sheep continually strayed from the shepherd, he would go out to find this wayward lamb. When found, the shepherd would break one or two of the legs of the lamb who repeatedly strayed. This shepherd would then bind up the broken leg(s) and carry the lamb on his back until the wounds had healed. In the process of being carried by the shepherd, and living so close to him continually, the lamb would fall in love with his master. After his wounds had healed, and the breaking process was over, this lamb would never again stray from his shepherd.[1]

It is a characteristic of all sheep that they tend to wander away from the shepherd. In the context of Isaiah’s prophecy, we are: all of who go astray, each one of us turns to our own way.

I had always imagined that once I surrendered my life to Jesus that I would stay close to Him and never stray. What I discovered is that my heart will naturally wander from the Lord, unless I train in every day to stay on course. I can drift in my thoughts, the things I gaze at, the works of my hands, and even my emotional state. Our heart and focus is subject to change daily and they have to be redirected continually towards Jesus.

Although we have been Born Again by the Spirit of God, our bodies have not been born again. These earthly and fallen vessels remain unredeemed and therefore unyielding to the leading of the Holy Spirit. [2]When Jesus saved us, He completely ignored the body, because it is fully entrenched in sin and cannot ever be perfect. For this reason, when Jesus returns for His church at the Rapture, He will give all those who have died and those who are alive at His coming, brand new eternal and perfect bodies.

Until that time, all of us are stuck with the flesh we live in, which does not want to please the Lord. It will struggle against our new spirit which genuinely wants to please the Lord. There is a never-ending war between the spirit and the flesh. Whichever side we feed the most will be the strongest.

1 Peter 2:11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul…

Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.

Romans 8:5 For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit.

One of the 14 attributes of the Messiah as a Shepherd, from Psalm 23, is that He will lead the wayward sheep back to the sheepfold (See Prophecy 200).

…He leads me in the path of righteousness for His names sake.

To be lead along the path of righteousness is to follow a precise, and predetermined plan of action.[3]

By following the Shepherds course, being led by Him, He keeps the sheep healthy, happy and nourished. He leads us along the correct path, to places where we can receive all that we need. The sheep left to themselves, tend to follow the same paths over and over. As a result, they get themselves into “a rut,” so to speak.

The Shepherd will keep us on the right path and prevent us from going over the same failures and hurts, again and again. If we persist and wear a “rut” into our path—when we fall into these places that trap us and prevent us from turning ourselves back-right again, the Shepherd will lift us up and set us on the correct path that is fresh and new.

The Messiah came as the Shepherd of Psalm 23

Psalms 23:1-6 The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.

The Lord’s ability to lead us, is predicated on whether or not He is My Shepherd. It is impossible to be led if we really do not want to be led. This term Lord carries with it, the idea of someone who is greater, wiser, and better able to lead us, than we are ourselves. No one can make Jesus Lord of their life until, they fully trust Him. Most of what Jesus is requesting from us has to do with whether or not we are willing to trust Him. First with our sins, second with our eternal life, finally with every part of our life remaining here on earth.

When Jesus has become the Lord of our life, will we allow Him to lead us as a Shepherd? The promise of the 23rd Psalm is that when we do, we will discover that in all of the difficulties and needs of our life, we will have no want. This is not to say that we won’t go without some of the things that we think we need during our life. I have known Jesus as my Shepherd for many years and I have often gone without many material things, and for good reason. While I was considering why the Lord would not give me the things that I felt He should, I soon discovered that waiting or delaying what I felt that I needed, was in my best interest. While I was writing this book, I found it difficult at times to understand why certain events were not taking place which I imagined should happen. I realized at just about this point in the book, that the reason that certain events were not happening was because had they taken place now, I would be far to busy and distracted to accomplish the intense work involved in bringing this book to completion.

Though Jesus is Lord of my life and I always look to Him as my Shepherd to lead and guide me, I expect to suffer loss and experience trials as a normal part of my life. The book of Hebrews chapter 12 describes Jesus as learning obedience by the things that He suffered. The presence of trials should always be viewed as the Lords abiding presence in our life. For all good fathers are actively involved in disciplining their sons, if they truly love them.

There will be suffering, pain, and sorrow; but in all these things, there will also be a knowledge that we are loved by God, and that we have a Shepherd who is caring for us, tending to our injuries, and comforting us in our losses. There will be no want for answers to life’s problems and difficulties, if we abide in and stay close to our Shepherd. There will be a confidence about us, though doubts will come and fears will never cease. If the Lord is our Shepherd, we will always come back to a place of peace, knowing that God is for us and that He will never leave us nor forsake us. In these things, we will have no want for answers, as the Shepherd will be our enduring provider and will guide us through all of life’s perils.

My wife and I spend a lot of time in places that are expedient for writing, such as libraries, college study rooms, and of course Starbucks. On many occasions, while I am gathering my thoughts to write, I will notice individuals who will come in and sit down for a few minutes, only to get back up, pace back and forth, and sit down again. While they intended to relax and enjoy a good book as they drank a fresh brewed coffee, they are often restless and distracted.

Allowing Jesus to be our shepherd means that we are willing from time to time, to just stop and lie down in a cool green pasture. To calm ourselves and sit quietly to peruse an inspiring book, sip slowly a great cup of coffee, giving no thought to what we have to do tomorrow. When Jesus is our Shepherd, He will lead us to places of rest and peace.

The first six verses of the 23rd Psalm contains fourteen important points, detailing how the Shepherd leads His sheep. Isaiah 53:6a describes the sheep as continually going astray. Isaiah predicted that when the Messiah arrived at Jerusalem in fulfillment of all the Old Testament prophecies, He would call Himself the Shepherd of Psalm 23.

Prophecy 88: The Messiah will be a Shepherd who will lead His people into eternal life.

Psalms 23:1 “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.

New Testament Fulfillment:

John 10:11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.”

John 10:14-15 “I am the good shepherd; and I know My sheep, and am known by My own. As the Father knows Me, even so I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep.”

Luke 12:32 “Do not fear, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”

In the Old Testament, the term Lord in Hebrew is Yahweh.[4]

In the New Testament, the word Lord in Greek is Kyrios.[5]

Kyrios is often used as a polite way to address a person, such as when we address a man today as sir. It can also mean master, as in one who rules over a servant or slave. The Greek translation of the Old Testament called the Septuagint was widely used during the time that Jesus was here on the earth. The word Kyrios or Lord was understood as Yahweh or Jehovah. The Greek Old Testament translates Kyrios as Lord, 6,814 times.

Jesus is called both Lord and Shepherd in the New Testament. Therefore, it is clear that the object of this first verse in the twenty-third Psalm is the Messiah Jesus, the LORD.

Jesus, as the Shepherd, takes His title one step further: He claims to be The Door, the single entrance into heaven. He says that all those who came before Him were impostors and that no one else has the authority to grant eternal life other than He. At the original Tabernacle in the desert, there was just one entrance. One way into the place of sacrifice and salvation. No one could come through the door of the Tabernacle without first bringing a sacrifice for their sins. See Prophecy 332 for a detailed description of the Tabernacle.

John 10:7−9 “Then Jesus said to them again, “Most assuredly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who ever came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them. I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.

Jesus perfectly fulfills this 246th prophecy by His conformity into the exact likeness of the Shepherd that David described in Psalm 23.


NOTES:
[1] Paraphrased from Robert Boyd Munger, “What Jesus Says, The Master Teacher and Life’s Problems”, Chapter 5, “What Jesus says about Suffering and Evil”, Page 69, 1955 by Fleming H. Revell, Company, Westwood, New York
[2] Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”
Romans 7:18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find.
[3] Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 2013
[4] Strong’s Hebrew Concordance # 3068
[5] Strong’s Greek Concordance # 2962

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s