Sunday, September 27, 2015

No Wild Flocks of Sheep

When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them,
Because they were harassed and helpless,
Like sheep without a shepherd.
~ Matthew 9:36 (ESV) ~

The passage above keeps coming back to mind lately.  And it's got me to thinking about the nature of sheep vs. so many other animals out there.  While almost all of them can be found living in groups of some sort, not a lot of those are found out in the wild.

With the possible exception of Big Horn Sheep in the western US, I don't know of any examples where sheep - the kind we normally think of when the word is said - exist well if they aren't actively herded.  No, you don't hear about sheep without also hearing a couple of common terms that indicate active management or ranching.  And one of those is a shepherd.

The Rabbi has just finished his discourse on the hillside where he lays our God's master story of love and redemption, how an impossibly high standard is being fulfilled right in front of them so they all can be brought back into the family.  So as he looks out over the crowd once again, he's moved by what he sees ... humanly moved because these people - his OWN people - were constantly harassed and harried like sheep whose shepherd had gone AWOL.

Hundreds of years ago, Isaiah prophesied the following (which Jesus himself would claim as his purpose):

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
    because the Lord has anointed me
to bring good news to the poor
    he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim liberty to the captives,
    and the opening of the prison to those who are bound.
~ Matthew 9:36 (ESV) ~

That sounds like a Shepherd to me ... perhaps the BEST Shepherd one could imagine, especially if you were a sheep who was lost and alone and frightened.

I'm reminded that I don't travel this Crooked Path alone.  I'm not a "wild sheep" skittering around and frightened at what might lie around the next corner.  My Shepherd is actively looking out for me and is intent on binding up my wounds and leading me someplace much better - someplace I was designed to live.  And by that, I mean really LIVE!

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