“We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah 53:6, NIV).
I find it interesting that the Prophet Isaiah would use the metaphor of sheep to describe human beings. Certainly, shepherding was a common occupation in Bible times. Moses and David each spent their fair share of time tending their flocks. Likewise, it was a band of misfit shepherds who first heard the angelic proclamation of the Messiah’s birth. Still, the comparison of people to livestock may be one that makes some of us feel, well, a bit sheepish.
Behaviorally, sheep are unique creatures in the animal world. Unlike cattle, sheep are not wrangled, prodded along, forced to move from one place to another. Rather, sheep are coaxed in the direction of their shepherd’s voice, which they are adept at recognizing. They hear their shepherd’s call and somehow understand that he is leading them to better pasture.
With the words, “Come, follow me” (Matthew 4:19, NIV), Jesus invited his first disciples to experience his goodness. He does the same for each of us today. He never forces us into a relationship with himself. Rather, he simply calls us.
Like sheep, we have a tendency to stray. With so many voices offering so many “good” things, we sometimes wander from our Good Shepherd and the abundance he offers. Still, Jesus is never afraid to pursue us. For not only is he our Shepherd, but he is our Savior. Jesus took our sin upon himself and offered up his life to save us.