Sheep or Shepherd? - April 22nd, 2018
A few years ago there was a rail incident in New York where a man was deliberately pushed onto the track. In the 90 seconds before the next train came the other people on the platform did precisely nothing, apart from take a few photographs - with terrible consequences. Yet 6 months earlier something similar had happened on the same track and one or two onlookers had then moved immediately into action to rescue the victim. So why do some people freeze in a crisis and others don’t?
One answer I read divided people into sheep, wolves and sheepdogs. Here sheep meant most people. They were just good people, not able to imagine anyone interrupting their mostly peaceful lives and wouldn’t know how to respond if anything untoward came along. They would depend on someone else to sort out the problem.
Wolves? They are the sort of people who take advantage of sheep being sheep.
Sheepdogs were seen as protectors. They are trustworthy, protective, and attentive, and sometimes their mere presence will ward off some predatory wolves. They are the ones who take action in a crisis and the writer reckoned they numbered 1% of the population.
Well, I wouldn’t want to push that analysis and paradigm too far. I think it comes from a certain part of American culture I would feel uncomfortable with. What interested me was the language that was used. Jesus also spoke of sheep and wolves, but instead of sheepdogs he spoke of shepherds. And the Good Shepherd is someone prepared to go that little bit further than most - he is prepared to lay down his life for the sheep.
I don’t suppose Jesus was suggesting for one moment that he was the only one who wouldn’t freeze in a crisis. It was the way in which he chose to respond that was different. So what are you going to be? A sheep or a shepherd?
"I am the good shepherd. T he good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me”.
Lord, you can never tell just how you will respond in a crisis. I’d like to think I wouldn’t freeze, but then who wouldn’t? I just ask that if something happens you will lead me to respond as you would. Amen.