It’s a video that’s gone viral — at least among pastors. If you’re friends with me on Facebook, you may have seen it.
In the video, a sheep is wedged upside down in a narrow trench alongside a dirt road. The arms of a young man can be seen, carefully pulling on the sheep’s hind legs, trying to wiggle it out of its predicament.
After a few seconds, the young man pulls the sheep safely out of its quandary. The giddy sheep prances and jumps for joy. On the third jump, however, it falls right back into the trench headfirst and is once again stuck upside down.
The caption read, “This is what the Bible means when it calls us sheep.”
In numerous places, the Bible calls God our Good Shepherd. In Psalm 23, King David — who himself knew a little bit about sheep — tells us, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want.” Jesus tells us repeatedly in John 10, “I am the Good Shepherd.”
If God is our Good Shepherd, that makes us his sheep. Usually when we think of sheep, though, we think of cute and cuddly animals. We think of fluffy, huggable toys. We think of little children tenderly singing, “I am Jesus’ little lamb.”
When the Bible calls us sheep, however, it is not calling us cute and cuddly.
Honestly, sheep are not the most intelligent animals on the planet. They are somewhat helpless. They easily get lost. They get themselves into all kinds of predicaments.
We get ourselves into predicaments. We wander away from God. We go where we are not supposed to go and do what we are not supposed to do. We fall into the trench and then we wedge ourselves in deeper by trying to cover up what we did – until we are completely stuck.
Thankfully, we have a Good Shepherd, a Great Shepherd, an Amazing Shepherd, who did the unthinkable. He gave his life for the sheep. He took our place and suffered our punishment. He died for our forgiveness. He died to rescue us from the hell we deserve.
When we get ourselves stuck in the trench of sin, our Good Shepherd patiently and lovingly sends pastors, family members and friends to pull us out — to remind us of his full and free forgiveness and to get us back on the right road.
But what do we do? So often we jump right back into the hole. We fall into the same stupid sins over and over again. Amazingly, our Good Shepherd keeps on forgiving us and patiently pulls us out again and again.
Honestly recognizing what we are like as sheep and how patient our Good Shepherd is will lead us to do two things. First of all, it will lead us to appreciate and love our Savior Jesus even more. He isn’t just a Good Shepherd. He is the Best Shepherd.
It will also lead us to stick as close to him as we can. We like to think we are fine on our own. We tell ourselves, “I could never fall as far as that person” or “I’ll never let myself get in that predicament again.”
Remember who we are. We are foolish, wandering sheep. On our own, we get ourselves into all kinds of trouble. On our own, we get stuck headfirst in the trench of sin.
So stay close to your Savior. Take time every week — every day — to listen to his voice speak to you in his Word. He will guide you. He will strengthen you.
He will help you stay out of the trench.