Sheep & Goats
Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lay down in
green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul.
He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake." Psalm
were traveling through the Judean desert toward Jerusalem when we saw
it. Coming over one of the many hills, we spotted this pastoral
scene, of which I quickly snapped a picture. It’s a typical scene
in the land, a bedouin shepherd leading his sheep and goats to food.
And yet, the scene before us was atypical of the images we hold in
our mind when we read passages like Psalm 23. Admit it! You probably
don’t envision “green pastures” that look like sand dunes
(where’s the green?).
all, what’s more like real life? God plopping you down in a field
of lush grass, giving you everything you need for your lifetime? Or
God leading you, day-by-day, to little tufts of grass, just enough to
get you through the day but demanding that you trust him for the next
day (“give us this day our daily bread”)?
more like real life? God showing you a nicely paved path and
reminding you not to stray off it? Or God leading you, in the midst
of a maze of different paths you could choose, down the path that
will allow you to live rightly and find sustenance for life (rather
than the edge of a cliff)?
will notice that the shepherd is out in front of his flock —
leading them, not driving them like cattle. God wants our
relationship with Him to be one of hearing his voice & following, RATHER THAN HAVING TO BE "DRIVEN" TO HEAR AND OBEY. [bold mine ]. True sheep,
as Jesus notes in John 10, hear his voice and follow.
sometimes we don’t follow; we go our own way. What then? Well,
Jesus reminds us that a good shepherd will go out to seek and save
his lost sheep, for they are precious to him. But there are limits;
there will be a time when sheep & goats will be separated, and
different fate will await them both. Why did Jesus differentiate
between these two types of flocks? After all, in Israel you generally
see sheep & goats grazing together. But look closely at this
picture. The group of animals in a neat circle nearest the shepherd
are sheep; the rest scattered on the hillside are goats. Apparently
this is common, for while sheep are good followers, goats often have
a mind of their own. Goats have an independent streak which causes
them to stray.
..... and how does a good shepard lead?