I’m not an expert, but I know a little about sheep. My father kept a small flock of sheep, his favorite farm animal, and I showed lambs at the county fair a few times.

A good shepherd will give his sheep what they need to be safe and healthy. Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11) “My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me.” (John 10:27)

Sheep learn to trust their shepherd to care for them and protect them. Except when the sheep want to be contrary.

 

Domestic sheep are easy targets for predators. Other than running or butting with their heads, there’s little they can do to defend themselves. They are prone to wander from the flock. A small patch of grass outside the fence will distract one sheep from following the flock through the gate into a lush pasture. A lamb following its mother will suddenly decide to take an alternate route, veer off from the gate, and, finding itself on the wrong side of the fence, cannot find its way back to the gate.

In the Bible, a lamb is a picture of sacrifice and redemption. As the representative of the person who sinned, the death and shed blood of an unblemished lamb offered as a sacrifice covered the sin of that person, paying the price of redemption. Witnessing the death of the lamb made one recognize the awfulness of sin before a holy God. The offering was repeated as the person sinned again.

“Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29)

The Lord Jesus Christ became our sacrificial lamb, perfect and holy, taking the death verdict for our sins, to buy our freedom from sin and its penalty. We no longer must sacrifice lambs for a blood covering for our sins. We are redeemed “with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (1 Peter 1:19)

By His painful death and shedding His blood on the cross, the Lord Jesus Christ paid for mankind’s acts of rebellion against God. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23)

 

Paul and Silas told the Philippian jailor, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved.” (Acts 16:31) Paul wrote, “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” (Romans 10:9)

God loves you and me, but when we choose our own “want to” rather than obeying His commands, we are subject to the penalty of spiritual separation from Him, death. God’s Son took on human form to experience what we do, then to die as the sinless sacrifice in our place for our sins. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:6)

When we acknowledge our sins, believe that Jesus died and rose again, and receive His free gift of salvation, our sins are forgiven, and we become members of God’s family. We have eternal life. “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name.” (John 1:12)

The analogy between sheep and people is obvious. The Good Shepherd offers us everything we need. But we wander away from Him, tempted by greener pastures: pleasure, popularity, the desire for wealth, etc. But when we repent and seek forgiveness, He welcomes us back. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9)

Christmas and Easter are two significant Christian holidays. At Christmas we celebrate the birth of God’s Son in human form. At Easter, we remember and celebrate His purpose for coming: He died for our sins and rose the third day.  He’s looking to bring wandering sheep into His eternal fold.