Sheep and shepherds. If there is a prevailing image in the Bible it might just be this one. There are 218 uses of “sheep” in the NRSV and and another 113 of “shepherd” or “shepherds.” I don’t know how that stacks up against any other significant word in the Bible but that’s a lot. So does our familiarity with this image, or these images I suppose, mean we have nothing to learn from them or about them? I don’t think so.
As I was reflecting on sheep and shepherds it struck me that we are pretty good at dealing with our “sheep-ness.” It might not be the most flattering image for us but we are used to it and can accept it without too much trouble. We are also pretty good with our sense of Jesus/God/Higher Power being the shepherd, just a bit further in our John reading we see Jesus saying, “I am the good shepherd.” So what else is there?
We are also shepherds. We are not the Good Shepherd, that is Jesus, but we are shepherds nonetheless. I’m not sure how this had escaped me and my preaching for all this time but I don’t recall every preaching a message suggesting we look at what it means to be a shepherd but I have rectified this as of today.
Give the message a listen and let me know if you think I’ve got something here worth further reflection.