Do you know what the most common animal is in all of the Bible?
If you guessed sheep, you guessed right. Sheep are mentioned roughly four hundred times in the Bible. In those times, sheep were valued for their wool and basically became like pets to their owners.
Sheep are neither smart nor tough. They are vegetarians who are not a threat to any other animal. They are not fenced in, but rather wander around grazing, which leaves them open to attack from predators.
It was the job of the shepherd to look out for the sheep. Shepherds are mentioned some one hundred times in the Bible. Shepherds were constantly on the job tending to their sheep day and night. Isolated from the rest of the community, shepherds often lived lives of solitude.
In one of the most beloved sections of the Bible, Jesus speaks in John 10:1-5 of himself as the Good Shepherd and Christians as His sheep saying,
John 10:1-5 “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.”
From this, we learn five things that sheep need:
- You need a shepherd. Without Jesus the “Chief Shepherd” and pastors who Jesus uses to help “shepherd the flock of God” (1 Peter 5:2) you are in danger of wandering away from the Lord and His people. Are you walking with Jesus and do you have spiritual leadership in your life?
- You need a flock. Sheep are social animals not made to live alone or wander away into danger and death. Do you have a good church you are relationally connected to?
- You need to find the one and only gate. The analogy Jesus gives is that just as there was only one gate leading to safety, so he too is the only gate that we can pass through into eternal safety. Do you belong to Jesus?
- You need to know the Shepherd’s voice. To this day, when a shepherd calls for their sheep, the sheep respond and run to their shepherd. How is your time in Scripture, prayer, and heeding wise counseling helping you listen to Jesus your Shepherd?
- You need to follow the Shepherd. The only safety for the individual sheep and the collective flock was by sticking close to the shepherd. How is your walk with Jesus going, or are you wandering?