Shepherds-There is a famous picture of Jesus carrying a sheep on his shoulders. A sheep weighs 20-80K. Cats usually weigh 10-15 pounds so a small sheep would be 44ilbs or twice the weight of your cat. The shepherd would have carried it across his shoulders. Good shepherd's care for their sheep and protect them from preditors, like wolves.
Sheep are often enclosed in a field by a sheep gate. So the gate protects the sheep and controlls what goes in and what goes out. Gates control space and are boundaries to activity. Gate keepers are important people like lock keepers and shepherds
Sheep and sheep dogs are trained to respond to the shepherds voice. A shout, a word, a whistle from the shepherd is a command to be obeyed.
Sheep are often thought of as stupid. They aren’t. They can remember 50 different faces for 2 years which is more than humans can. The reason we view them as stupid is because we eat them and don’t want to give them a personality other than as food. Sheep are faithful to one another, mourn loss and devoted to their shepherd. They will die without a good shepherd.
The most powerful image of Jesus is as the good shepherd with the lost sheep on his shoulders. Jesus the good shepherd has come to seek and save the lost sheep. And the most well known biblical text is the “Lords my Shepherd” Psalm 23. So it’s a very powerful image of God too.
Shepherds themselves need to eat, sleep and rest because they are potentially on call to rescue lost sheep and they need to be alert and wise to wolves (from where we get the expression a wolf in sheeps clothing).
Who in your life has been a good shepherd to you? Good shephers are priceless. A relative, a friend, a teacher, someone at church.
In our time there are many voices competing for our attention. There are often strident voices in times of economic austerity and recession, like Hitler and Moseley and Enoch Powell. Which voices do you listen to?
We may lose the voice of the good shepherd and go astray from time to time and fall into danger, perhaps following a voice that sounds strong and smart and seductive, playing to our economic needs. We may follow a path that leads us away from Christ. Whose voice do we follow? What gate do we enter by? What gate do we lead others through? Good shepherds have integrity and want the best for us and lead us to water, refreshment, food, good grass and places of safety away from danger. They protect us and the vuklnerable. . Especially the vulnerable and the lost. How do our leaders measure up to the image of the Good Shepherd? Do they feed us, water us and protect us from attack? Do they seek out the lost and vulnerable to bring them back into the fold? This is the measure. Don't go trusting any old shepherd!