Bringing the Text to Life

Don't Count Sheep John 10:11-18

What kind of image do you associate with "the Lord is my shepherd"? Does your mind''s eye more readily identify with the identity of "sheep" or "shepherd?" What are the responsibilities of sheep and of shepherds? What is expected of us?

Have you ever been troubled by the biblical injunction that calls for separating the sheep from the goats? The problem with the analogy is that we know from many other texts (such as this week's) that Christians should strive to be counted among the sheep. Goats, with their wicked eyes and wily ways (there is yet to be invented a fence which can successfully contain a goat), are the lost, the unredeemed. But being identified as a sheep is hardly complimentary. The meek and mild nature of a "sheep-like" person is rarely admired.

And sheep are notoriously stupid. Hold up a stick in front of the lead sheep in a procession of the animals and it will nimbly leap up and over the slight barrier. So far, so good. Unfortunately for the reputation of "sheep-sense," the remaining sheep will also obediently leap up to clear the stick - even if the obstacle is removed after that first beast jumped it. All the other sheep leap to avoid something that isn't there. The strength of their flock...

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