In the Greek, Shepherd means “a herdsman, one who tends the sheep, one who leads the sheep, guides and cherishes and feeds and protects the flock.” A shepherd is one that heals wounded sheep and saves trapped or lost sheep. A shepherd is one who loves the sheep. These are all characteristics of the shepherd and the Father: He tends, leads, guides, cherishes, feeds and protects us as His sheep. He heals us and saves us. He loves and views us with so much value; He willingly gave His life for us, His sheep.
Many of us grew up with this sheep analogy, we have heard it so many times in church. We know that God calls us sheep, but what does that mean? I think we can get a clearer picture when we look at some facts about sheep:
- they are prone to wander
- they will scatter
- they get lost (parable of 99 sheep)
- they are vulnerable and defenseless – Jesus picked one of the most vulnerable animals to describe who we are.
- they are innocent
- they are followers
- they are meek
- they are clean
- they are useful
- they are content
- they have a tendency to be fearful
- they have great hearing
- they have excellent peripheral vision
- they move toward lighted areas
- they have excellent sense of smell
- they follow leaders
- they can learn their own names
- they can remember human faces for years
- they can be stressed when separated from the flock. Once lost, they are anxious.
- they have best friends in their folds