As Smart As Sheep May 15, 2011Posted by lizp4 in Uncategorized.
Jn 10:1-10 Jesus said:
“Amen, amen, I say to you,
whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate
but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.
But whoever enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.
The gatekeeper opens it for him, and the sheep hear his voice,
as the shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.
When he has driven out all his own,
he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him,
because they recognize his voice.
But they will not follow a stranger;
they will run away from him,
because they do not recognize the voice of strangers.”
Although Jesus used this figure of speech,
the Pharisees did not realize what he was trying to tell them.
So Jesus said again, “Amen, amen, I say to you,
I am the gate for the sheep.
All who came before me are thieves and robbers,
but the sheep did not listen to them.
I am the gate.
Whoever enters through me will be saved,
and will come in and go out and find pasture.
A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy;
I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”
* * * * * *
When I was a kid, we lived the entire decade of the Fifties in central Utah. In those days it was safe to say that it was “sheep country.” There were huge flocks pastured all over in the desert, and shearing pens in quiet places. Many owners hired Basque and Spanish shepherds because of their knowledge of the ovine mind. The little “sheepwagon” was a common sight on the roads, most often horsedrawn, and following a flock. It was a plain farmwagon with a rounded top, like a very low tech camper trailer.
Sheep are not noted for their intellect. They are born followers, and are programmed to focus on the wooly rump in front of their eyes and follow it wherever it goes. But the sheep in today’s gospel show another trait of domestic sheep: They may not know a lot, but they know what they know. They know the shepherd’s dogs, they know the bellwethers, they know that when that particular, special human moves among them and speaks to them, he has their best interest at heart. It’s no stretch to understand, then, that sheep know their master’s voice. They will come when called, they wait for the shepherd to open gates, provide pasturage, water, and medical care.
We are frequently likened to sheep in the Gospels, because Jesus wanted to teach us that we are HIS. We belong to him, we should be listening to his voice, and be ready to follow him when he leads us.
“…Whoever does not enter a sheepfold through the gate but climbs over elsewhere is a thief and a robber.” The only way a sheep thief would be able to capture someone else’s sheep would be to sneak behind the gatekeeper’s back, climb into the fold and pick them up bodily and carry them away, because they would not follow anyone whose voice they did not recognize. The sheep would flee from someone who climbed over the fence instead of opening the gate and calling to them.
“A thief comes only to steal and slaughter and destroy…” When the thief of souls enters Christ’s sheepfold with an eye toward stealing his sheep, we should be at least as smart as those Biblical sheep. We should not listen to the voice of any but our proven and recognized Shepherd. Those thieves will not carry away the sheep bodily, but they will try, with words, pretend-miracles, and bribery to get the Shepherd’s sheep out of that fold and into the thief’s. They have no love for the sheep, just a desire to steal them from their rightful Shepherd.
“I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” It sounds like the sheep know how to make this decision without trouble. The least we can do is be as smart as a sheep. It shouldn’t be too hard to learn to resist when the devil tries to boost us over that fence. “When Satan knocks on my door, I just send Jesus to answer it!”