A flock of sheep was a priceless commodity for a village in the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and that flock was constantly being threatened by wolves and thieves alike. Shepherds had to be trustworthy and reliable. They had to be brave, constantly vigilant, and strong. They got no vacations, no time off, and very little sleep. Their profession was a lonely one, as they lived mostly with their sheep and apart from society. And then, as though to make the shepherd’s task harder still, sheep are not known to be the brightest of animals. They tend to follow wherever they're led without question. They wander without thought to their safety or importance, and they scatter at the first sign of danger. They give no thanks for their shepherds’ protection and courage. And so, shepherding is hard, unforgiving work.
Jesus explains what He means when He calls Himself the Good Shepherd: “I lay down my life for my sheep.” A good shepherd loves his flock. He doesn't run from a wolf that threatens his flock, but faces it head on to protect the oblivious, thankless sheep. He confronts the wolves, and he fights them even unto death although his sheep still scatter and go their own way.
As sheep, you and I continue to face that wolf even unto death for Jesus’ sake, knowing the war is over: Satan cannot win because the Good Shepherd already won the Good Fight. We remain sheep in every sense. Sometimes we're led astray, sometimes we scatter at the first sign of danger, and sometimes we wander off into danger all on our own.
Sheep though we may be, we are also warriors armed with the blood of our Good Shepherd, armed with the Spirit of God, and with the love of our Father, and covered in our Baptisms unto death. So come on, you wolves in sheep’s clothing or with your teeth bared. Our Shepherd knows us, and we know Him. He has laid down His life for us, AND He has taken it up again. No wolf can live, no matter how small the sheep in Jesus’ flock are. Of that we are certain.
Suggested verse to repeat if it's a difficult day is Psalm 23:1
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
"The Lord is my Shepard. -------> 5 count inhale
I shall not want." -------> 5 count exhale