A friend told me how much she delighted in the sheep with their little lambs in Ireland during lambing season. My mind immediately went to a verse from Psalm 100. It says that God made us and we are his people and the sheep of his pasture. Can you imagine God delighting in you as much as my friend delighted in those sheep?
Think of the implications of being sheep, according to the Bible. Even as God brought his people out of Egypt, he called them his flock and led them like sheep through the wilderness (Ps 78:52). Later he chose David from tending the sheep and made him to be the shepherd of his people Israel (Ps 78:70-71). Humanly David was a powerful king, but God called him a shepherd of his sheep.
God knows that we are prone to go astray like sheep, left to our own devices. Ezekiel tells us he will search for us, rescue us, bring us back and have us lie down in provision and safety. One of the most beloved Psalms underscores that picture of green pastures and still waters. How comforting is that!
When Jesus saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd (Mat 9:36). Jesus had a lot to say about his relationship to us as the Good Shepherd (John 10:14). He knows his sheep by name and they know his voice (John 10:3-4). In fact, he lay down his life for the sheep (John 10:15).
The parable of the 99 sheep etches in my mind the picture of how valuable each one of us is. Jesus tells us that if he has 100 sheep and 99 are safely in his fold, he will go to look for the missing one (Matt 18:12-13). And when he finds him, he is happier about that one sheep than about the 99 that did not wander off. What an image! Nobody is beyond his particular concern and care.
The wisdom of the world says the shepherd should forget the one missing sheep and write him off as a loss. But in God’s economy, each person is valuable. Be encouraged by this picture of your Good Shepherd.