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“You Push Cows” - Thoughts on the Good Shepherd

Jesus said “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me. But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep as I said to you ‘My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me’” (John 10:25-27).

One of the most common titles we give our Lord is “The Good Shepherd”. He is the one who lays down his life for His sheep, the one who “leadeth us beside the still waters and restoreth our souls”. As a Good Shepherd, Jesus makes us to have no wants. We are His sheep, He is our Shepherd. It may be, however, that at times we have missed the point of this correlation. Often, we think of sheep as simple animals with no direction, who exist only to be sheared and consumed. We might need to change the way we think of sheep.

In a book I read, the author discusses a conversation she had with a sheepherder, she writes:

Imagine my delight, then, when I discovered last Tuesday that someone I know actually grew up on a sheep farm in the Midwest and that according to him sheep are not dumb at all. It is the cattle ranchers who are responsible for spreading that ugly rumor, and all because sheep do not behave like cows. According my friend, cows are herded from the rear by hooting cowboys with cracking whips, but that will not work with sheep at all. Stand behind them making loud noises and all they will do is run around behind you, because they prefer to be led. You push cows, my friend said, but you lead sheep, and they will not go anywhere that someone else does not go first—namely, their shepherd—who goes ahead of them to show them that everything is all right. (Taylor 140-1)

Sheep grow fond of their shepherds, sheep consider shepherds as a part of their families. They develop a language of their own that outsiders are not privy to. A good shepherd learns to tell the difference between a bleat of pain from one of pleasure, while the sheep learn that a cluck of the tongue means food, or a two-note song means that it is time to go home. They know whom they belong to; they know their shepherd’s voice, it is the only one they will follow.

Is Jesus your Shepherd? Do you know His voice? Do you follow in His footsteps and listen to His call? We must have an intimate relationship with our Good Shepherd if we want to be fed spiritual food and if we want to make it to the green pastures of heaven. Jesus knows His sheep. Do we know our Shepherd?

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