The Sheep of God

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Matthew 25:34-40
34 “Then the King will say to those on His right, ‘Come, you who are blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 ‘For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat; I was thirsty, and you gave Me something to drink; I was a stranger, and you invited Me in; 36 naked, and you clothed Me; I was sick, and you visited Me; I was in prison, and you came to Me.’ 37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? 38 ‘And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? 39 ‘When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ 40 “The King will answer and say to them, ‘Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.’

When we look at Jesus’ comparisons of His “flock” and that His followers are to be like sheep, some of us might not appreciate the comparison.  We talked a little yesterday about what it means to be a sheep: obedient, innocent, and meek.  When we look at the other characteristics of sheep (timid, aloof, easily frightened) we think, “Seriously?  Is this really what God wants me to be?’  In today’s passage, however, Jesus explains to us what it means to be one of His flock of sheep.  To be His sheep means to care for others, be selfless, serve without expecting a return or recognition.  When Jesus uses the analogy of us being the sheep and He our Good Shepherd, it challenges our need for power and control.  We don’t want to be a mindless and timid sheep wandering the pastures and relying on someone else.  We find it ridiculous to be blindly obedient to someone without knowing where we are going.  Yet when we need comfort in our lives, we refer to Psalm 23 which brings us peace:

1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters. 3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You have anointed my head with oil; My cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, And I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

David the shepherd wrote this, knowing the importance of a shepherd over the flock.  David trusted God just like the sheep trusted him.  He recognized that just as the sheep didn’t have to worry about anything because he was a good shepherd, God’s people (aka flock) do not have to worry either.  God brings us peace and joy.  He gives us what we need when we need it.  He protects us against those who come against us.  He loves us completely and we are safe under His care.  He guides us in paths of uprightness and goodness.  You can’t do this if you prefer to be a goat.  This is what He explains in John 10 and the people got angry because He was telling them that they must humble themselves to be a part of the flock.  They could not enter into His fold by remaining prideful and stubborn.

Being one of God’s sheep is about not worrying: to cast all your fears aside and trust Him completely.  We cannot keep all of our own ways and be a part of His flock.  We must be willing to have faith in His promises to care for us, protect us, and provide for us.  When we do, we don’t have to stand up for ourselves because we know He will.  When we do, we don’t have to be so concerned about providing for ourselves or our families because we know He will.  When we do we get to simply bless others with what He has given us because we know He will continue providing for us so we can continue blessing others.

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