READ:  Matthew 18:12-14


“We all, like sheep, have gone astray,

each one of us has turned to his own way.

Isaiah 53: 53:6 (NIV)






          Over the years, we have had numerous opportunities to visit many churches of various denominations and one common element among them is a copy of the “Good Shepherd” painting hanging either in the sanctuary or in a classroom in the educational wing.  You too, probably have seen this portrayal of Jesus carrying a lamb draped over his shoulder.  I seldom ever received any satisfactory answer as to why He was carrying the sheep.  Consequently, I decided to do research on the topic.


          I found that sheep lack any good means of self defense and they will do things that are harmful to themselves such as eating and drinking items that are detrimental to their health.  Unless they are constantly and closely watched, they will get into “trouble” as they seem unaware of dangers.  Another characteristic is their curiosity, they will often wander off to explore and become lost.  Even under a watchful eye the braver or more foolhardy sheep will wander off.  Early shepherds were known to “cure” the chronic offenders in the flock by pulling one of the legs out of joint making it impossible for it to stray very far away.  When the flock was grazing in one spot, this presented no problem.  However, when the sheep were being moved to another feeding area, the errant one had to be carried.  Consequently, a bond grew between the sheep and the shepherd as it was being carried and it no longer had a desire to stray.  The people during Jesus earthly ministry were well aware of the characteristics of sheep so were able to understand His frequent reference to them.  However, we who dwell in urbanized and industrial settings probably are unable to fully appreciate these nuances. 


          After my research I came to more fully understand how many characteristics we humans share with sheep and how much we need a shepherd to guide and help us through life.  A first step is for us to realize that  we do need His guidance and secondly to learn to rely on that guidance and not to blindly wander off in search of “greener pastures”.