Sheep intrigue me. I started a small collection of little sheep figurines. The ones found in a crèche set. I love them. I place them around a shepherd that looks like he might have been David with a precious lamb wrapped around his shoulders. I always think of him as Jesus carrying me.
The figurines have different looks on their tiny faces and they stand in different positions, some look up adoringly at the shepherd and some graze at his feet. Reminds me of how I place myself at Jesus’ feet.
If we compare sheep’s characteristics with those of humans, we’ll find they are very similar. No wonder Jesus lovingly calls us His sheep.
I thought it would be fun to take the next few posts and look at some of the shared characteristics.
The first characteristic is…drum roll, please! Ta-dah!
Sheep are not very intelligent!
Actually, they are notoriously dumb! They have the IQ of a rubber tree plant! Because of this brain deficiency, they are the only herd-type animal that require a custodian or guardian to give them constant care and supervision 24/7. A shepherd must commit his whole life to watching over his flock.
Because they have a strong instinct to follow a leader, when one sheep decides to wander off, the rest of the flock usually follows, no matter where it takes them. For example, if the lead sheep jumps over a cliff, the others will more than likely follow.
Because of their lack of intelligence, they…
…are not trainable…
They also need constant supervision because they are not trainable. You’ll never see them in the circus doing tricks on command, like the silly image above.
Though they are not teachable, they will do the exact thing that the one in front of them does. For instance, I read that, if you hold a stick in front of the first sheep in a line and it jumps over the stick, the rest of the flock will mindlessly follow suit, leaping over the stick, even when it is taken away!
Because they are not trainable, pain and punishment have little or no effect on their behavior because they have no memory and do not learn from their mistakes. They keep doing the same dumb things over and over.
…will wander off, go astray, and, with no sense of direction, get into trouble.
And since they will senselessly follow the one in front of them, they will all wander off in any direction and probably get into trouble. Therefore, with no sense of direction, if one sheep wanders off and gets lost, the rest of the flock will follow right along, even if the sheep jumps over a cliff.
Please don’t get the wrong idea. I don’t mean people are as dumb as rubber tree plants, but sometimes I wonder about the things we humans do! Sometimes, I don’t think we learn. We do the same dumb things over and over, going around, as some say, the same ol’ mountain again and again. It takes a while for us to be trained, if at all. If we could just learn a lesson the first time around, we wouldn’t suffer some of the same consequences.
This is why we need a guardian for constant care, just as the sheep do.
We have a strong instinct to follow a leader, but we need to make sure it is the right Leader. We will wander off aimlessly and follow the flock right over the cliff if we do not listen to the Shepherd’s voice and follow His footsteps.
With no sense of direction, we will always pick the wrong way without the Shepherd. We will continue to go astray and get lost.
The disciple Peter recognized that we all need the true Shepherd. Having known Him himself, Peter wrote, “Like sheep you wandered away from God, but now you have returned to your Shepherd, the Guardian of your souls.” (1 Peter 2:25a TLB)
* Do you repeat the same mistakes over and over?
* Have you wandered off aimlessly and lost your way?
* Or do you listen to the Shepherd’s voice and follow in His footsteps?
May you be blessed with the Great Shepherd’s constant care.