The imagery of sheep and shepherd is perhaps one of the most common images in the Bible. Christ is the Good Shepherd, He is the Lamb of God, He tells Peter to "feed my sheep". It is common because it would speak clearly to an agrarian society where sheep and shepherds were plentiful. It would also speak to them because they were fully aware of the nature of sheep.
People today think of sheep and think of cute, cuddly white lambs that are sweet and nice. Sheep are sweet, they look great in paintings and greeting cards. But people who think that about sheep don't know anything about sheep.
The Sido family knows the truth about sheep because we had a short lived, pre-goat, experiment with four Shetland sheep when we lived up north and never again.
Sheep are smell bad, they are really dumb, they are messy eaters and they are horribly unappreciative.
- Sheep smell bad. They have a pretty pungent odor about them from the lanolin in their wool. Get really close to a sheep or recently sheered wool and you will get hands that feel like you have been playing in crisco. You really don't want to snuggle with a sheep, and when we see images of the Good Shepherd seeking His sheep and putting them on His shoulders, remember that the sinner draped over Christ's shoulders is kind of oily and stinky.
- Sheep are dumb. You haven't seen a blank look until you have looked in the eyes of a sheep. Even cows look smarter, or at least more content. The shepherd is so important because without him the sheep will get lost and eaten in a matter of minutes. One time our sheep got out of their pen and started wandering. Not in malice, but in ignorance. They ate a little grass here, and then over there, and pretty soon they had wandered over a mile away to a neighboring farm and still had no clue. Sheep wander (all we like sheep have gone astray)
- Sheep are messy eaters. I just threw this in there. They scatter their hay all over, spill grain and get crud in the water. Not really relevant, but it is just gross.
- No animal is more unappreciative. Even cats will purr if you feed them. Dogs love you no matter what you do. Goldfish get excited when they see the lid of the tank go up. But sheep, no matter how you feed and care for them, act like you are going to stick a knife in them at any second. I was sick of feeding them and having them run away whenever I got near the pen.
So when you think of yourself as one of God's sheep, don't think of it as a compliment. God didn't choose you because you were pure, white, fuzzy and cute. He chose you even though like sheep you are kind of stinky, prone to wander and unappreciative. Being called one of His sheep is not a compliment to you, it is a testament to how gracious He is.