“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them because they were confused and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”
Matthew 9:36 NLT
In my community, they have been using a brilliant method for weed abatement. Temporary fences are set up in an open area, then sheep and goats are brought in to munch the weeds away. A friend’s son adorably referred to these animals as God’s lawnmowers. This past summer, we had this happening in the ravine behind our house. It was fun to watch them. Some of the sheep wore bells. We had a family debate as to whether this was a position of honor or if the more rebellious sheep, who were most likely to wander off, wore the bells. I’m guessing the latter. As dusk approached, we noticed that the temporary fence containing the animals was down in one area. They were starting to wander all over the hill. Although there were a couple of sheepdogs, no shepherd was watching over the flock. We were worried about them getting lost, hit by a car, or eaten by one of the coyotes that we sometimes hear howling at night. We called our neighborhood security to alert them of sheep on the loose. Eventually they were rounded up.
A shepherd’s job is to guide his flock, protect them, and attend to their needs. Jesus is the ultimate shepherd. When we don’t have Jesus in our lives, we are like sheep without a shepherd, aimless and naïve to potential dangers that surround us. The temptations of this world are great. It’s easy to get confused and wander down the wrong path. Jesus warns us of our vulnerability.
"I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves"
Matthew 10:16 NIV
Many times the Bible refers to Jesus as our shepherd. Jesus himself uses this analogy throughout chapter 10 of the book of John.
"I am the good shepherd. I know my own sheep, and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. And I lay down my life for the sheep."
John 10:14-15 NLT
Reflect for a moment on the powerful truths in these verses. Jesus compares His relationship with us, His sheep, to the intimacy Jesus shares with His Father. Let the impact of that sink in. He knows us. He knows what we need. And because our greatest need is a Savior who could atone for our sins, he was willing to lay down his life for us. How can we deepen our intimacy with Jesus? As with most relationships, time is a key factor. By reading the Bible, we learn His instructions for how to live our lives. Spending time in worship and prayer brings us closer to our Savior. A crucial part of our prayer life, which I often forget, is including a time to be still and silent to give God an opportunity to speak to us. As the world chaotically swirls around us, we need to look to our perfect shepherd for guidance, protection, and peace.