Read: Matthew 25:31-46 |
Sheep are among the top 25 smartest animals on the planet! 
Who would have guessed that! Yet, several scientific studies conclude, that sheep:
- Possess an ability to remember and process information not seen in many large animals
- Can identify faces of other sheep or humans even if only looking at a photograph
- Can pass some psychological tests that monkeys would fail
- Can recognize and exhibit a wide range of emotions 
In short, they have had us fooled all along!
Our last installment in this study of the parable of the Sheep and Goats leads us to ask what is or was so special about sheep that the Bible would consistently utilize the metaphor of sheep for His followers?
Notable Sheep characteristics
As a believer, why do I have to be compared to a sheep? I want to be a lion cub to the Lion of Judah or a royal subject to the King of Kings! But a “sheep”? Come on, man!
After I got past that initial thought process, I soon realized that several traits of sheep apply metaphorically to our spiritual lives. Let me share some of the attributes:
Followers – Sheep follow their Shepherd. They recognize the shepherd’s voice and his face. In fact, the Bible notes that Believers know His voice and should follow Him. [John 10:27]
Dependent – They require guidance, otherwise they can wander away. The sheep must be led to food and water. We too like sheep can be lead astray. [I Corinthians 3:19; Isaiah 53:6] We are to hunger and thirst for righteousness. [Matthew 5:6]
Defenseless – A sheep’s best defense is to stay close to their shepherd because they lack any natural defenses. Our best defense is also to stay close to the Good Shepherd. When we are out of fellowship, we too become defenseless for He is our shield and our mighty fortress. [Psalm 18:2; Psalm 144:2]
Restless – Hunger and bugs make sheep restless. Hunger: When food is scarce they become restless and wander. Believers are called to continually feed on the Word of God. [Psalm 23:2; Psalm 34:8] Bugs: Bugs like to lay eggs in the matted wool on a sheep’s head. Good shepherds, routinely combat this by rubbing olive oil on the heads of their sheep. After all, the shepherd loves each of them. God also, loves each of us and anoints our heads with oil as we follow Him. [Psalm 23:5]
Unclean – Sheep are walking dirt magnets because their wool catches mud, thistles, manure or whatever they have been around. Believers are born separated from God and our sins make us unclean. Only the blood of Jesus can cleanse us as we confess our sins. [Hebrews 10:22]
Believers should exhibit Sheep-like behavior
During the various scientific studies noted at the beginning, the research revealed a quirk in sheep’s behavior. When a sheep is alone, it actually makes better decisions. When in a flock they have been known to literally follow their flock over a cliff!
Unlike sheep, when we are alone we do not always make better decisions. Additionally, only when we are in a mob-frenzy do we tend to subscribe to group think and go over a figurative cliff. Subsequently, whether alone or in a group, our job is to hear His voice and follow His commands. As we come together into a local group/flock, Paul tells us in Hebrews 10:24-25, that we are to spur each other to good works.
It is unmistakable that this parable concludes that our actions reveal our faith.
Our Faith is demonstrated by our conscious and unconscious actions. Motivated by our love for God, we touch the lives of others each day and offer aid and comfort. The best of us, keep no records, expect no praise and prefer to go unnoticed. But God notices and on judgement day, He will separate the goats from the sheep. “Baa, Baa” my brother and sister until we meet up yonder.
1. Discover –
A. Do remember the commercial from Verizon “Can you hear me now?” Imagining God asking us that question, are you ever in situations that we cannot hear God?
B. Describe the difference between “hearing” and “listening”. Which do you do more often and how does it differ based on the situation?
2. Develop –
A. A sheep responds to his Shepherd’s voice and goes where He directs. Contrast and compare this statement with your walk with God?
3. Demonstrate –
A. When you know how much Jesus loves you and how much He did for you on the cross, you are literally overflowing with His love. How is this revealed in your life?