Sheep Need a Shepherd; Preferably, A GOOD Shepherd

“I am the good shepherd.” (John 10:11) There is a lot to consider in this short verse. What all do shepherds do? What is their role in tending the sheep? In Biblical times, shepherds provided leadership and protection for sheep, who were too vulnerable to make it alone out there in the real world. I know their job was to keep the flock together, to gather strays who wandered off, and to protect them from predators.


But a shepherd’s role was also defined by the characteristics of his flock. He had to understand his sheep and guide them in such a way that they could overcome their natural tendencies. The analogy Christ is making works because there are so many similarities between sheep and, well, us… First of all, sheep are not very bright. They are selfish and appetite-centered. They don’t practice good crop management, since they will eat a field down to nothing, leaving barren soil in their wake. The shepherd would counter that tendency by leading them to various pastures in a rotation so that they could find enough grass in the appropriate season. Sheep don’t drink from running water, so the shepherd would guide them to ponds or “still waters”. Sheep will wander off and get into trouble. They are very vulnerable to predators.

sheep killer

When he was questioned about his ability to confront Goliath, David told Saul, “Your servant has killed both lion and bear; and this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, seeing he has defied the armies of the living God.” (1 Samuel 17:36) A sheep who followed his shepherd enjoyed protection and green pastures. Jesus had just contrasted the shepherd with the thief, who came to “kill, steal and destroy.” As members of his flock, we live in a world that employs numerous ways to accomplish those three things. What kills your joy, steals your time, or destroys your peace of mind? Be careful what you follow. Be careful WHO you follow.

In the verse just before, Jesus said, “I am come that they might have life, and might have it more abundantly.” The good shepherd wants your life to be more peaceful, joyful, and full. The thief wants to tear it down. Are you willingly following the good shepherd? He might just take you to a good spot.

The world can be a dangerous place.
So many dangers that we face
Are things the fallen world employs
To break our hearts, and steal our joys;
Be careful out there, girls and boys:
For we, like sheep can go astray!
If only someone led the way,
And took us where the grass is deep,
Enough for even selfish sheep…
“I’m the Good Shepherd” said a man,
So I will follow him while I can,
Because I’d really like to see
If there’s a possibility of living life abundantly.
So far he hasn’t lied to me, this Shepherd out of Galilee…


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For Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here:
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Do Sheep Really Need to Follow a Stupid Shepherd Around? Yes I’m Talking to YOU

“All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6, NKJV) It is well-documented that sheep are not very intelligent animals. Sheep don’t strategize, they don‘t figure things out, and their general approach to life is that they wander around intent on finding things to appease their appetites. I’m sure Isaiah used this comparison because that sounds like a lot of people out there.

Even when sheep have a shepherd who is looking out after their interests, protecting them from danger, leading them to food and water, and generally taking care of them, there are still sheepish tragedies. Sheep will wander off by themselves to suffer dehydration or starvation, or they will fall prey to predators who want to eat them for dinner.

Without a shepherd though, it gets worse. When sheep achieve freedom from their shepherd, they find themselves in a world full of possibilities. They might stumble into a rich pasture by a nice pond, or they could find themselves alone and friendless in a life and death situation. I wonder, as the sheep bleats plaintively in the desert, or when the lion is closing fast, does the sheep ever think, “Gee, I wish I had stayed with that shepherd. Maybe he knows something I don’t.” By then it is almost always too late.

When you think about it, we are a lot like sheep. We have a shepherd, but we mostly like to venture out on our own. We have a tendency to go astray. We have turned, every one to his own way, and traded the security of the shepherd’s control and limitations for the chance of freedom in a dangerous world. Our curiosity or our appetite will call us away from the shepherd’s advice and limitations to go out on our own.

The essence of sin is doing what you want, taking control, being selfish, and turning aside from your created purpose. That’s the also at the heart of Lucifer’s arrogant proclamation in Isaiah 14:12 and following: “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! How you are cut down to the ground, You who weakened the nations! For you have said in your heart: ‘I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will also sit on the mount of the congregation on the farthest sides of the north; I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.’“

Notice how many times he says “I will”. It’s the same thing that all of us do. As the preacher says, “Whenever you sin, there’s always an “I” right in the middle of it. So how about you? Are you astray? Do you have a tendency to leave the Shepherd and go off on your own? There’s another 14:12 in the Bible that says it this way. “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (Proverbs 14:12) Don’t trade the security of the Shepherd’s limitations for the freedom to wander about in a deadly world. 1 Peter 5:8 warns: “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.” When the lion finds you alone in the world, I guarantee you will end up feeling sheepish.

Just like sheep, we go astray by turning off to our own way,
And make an independent choice unguided by the Shepherd's voice.
We choose to go our own direction, wander off from his protection,
Hoping good will come to pass as we go off for greener grass...
But sadly, there's an evil power who's seeking those he may devour,
Stalking independent sheep who wander down the pathways steep.
Be vigilant, and be alert: the devil wants to cause you hurt,
To bring you down and bring you in to feel the ravages of sin!
Be watchful, careful, and be wary, lest this deadly adversary
Tempt you to a path that makes a detour into grave mistakes...
So listen to the shepherd's call: he bore the iniquity of us all,
Extending love to great and small, redeeming sinners from the fall.


To buy my latest book, Slaying Giants: Thirty Days with David, go here:
To buy my book, Beggar’s Bread, go here:
For the Kindle Edition, go here: