By Ben Cachiaras
“I’m drawing a picture of God,” she proudly replied.
“But nobody knows what God looks like,” the teacher told her.
The little girl answered, “They will when I’m through.”
Jesus made seven “I AM” statements in John’s Gospel, each one a metaphor used to draw a self-portrait. In John 10 Jesus said he is the good shepherd who lays down his life for the sheep.
Sheep Need a Good Shepherd
Folk in ancient Palestine understood sheep and the special relationship they had with their shepherd. They knew hirelings who didn’t have the sheep’s best interest in mind, running at any sign of danger. And they knew good shepherds who knew their sheep and cared deeply for them. Sheep really need a good shepherd.
Sheep are vulnerable animals and it’s not easy to care for them. If you turn a sheep loose in the wilderness, it will die. It can’t kill game to survive and it can’t find water to drink. A sheep can’t defend itself against predators or run fast to get away. They have no defensive weapons like claws, sharp teeth, or quills. They can’t turn around and emit a smelly fume in defense. Sheep have a lousy sense of direction, and when they do get lost, they tend to panic and lie down. They’re easily frightened and follow other sheep—even if those sheep don’t know where they’re going. They can be stubborn and ornery.
On top of all this, sheep are basically stupid. So they’re not only weak and vulnerable, they’re dumb.
Know anybody like that?
Sheep Need a Shepherd, and So Do You
Everyone does, for all we like sheep have gone astray.
Remember the shepherds from the Christmas story? They were out in the fields with the sheep, keeping watch over their flocks by night. That’s what shepherds do—stay with the sheep through the night. When stress and worry threaten to attack in the night, keeping you from the peace of our Lord, call on the Good Shepherd who will meet you—even in the middle of the night. Because that’s what good shepherds do.
Ben Cachiaras is the senior minister of Mountain Christian Church in Joppa, Maryland and past president of the North American Christian Convention.