The Passion Of The Sheep

The village where we live mostly consists of farmers who cultivate land, tend cattle and grow chicken and goose. A herd of cows or sheep grazing the meadows is a common sight here. One day as I was walking our dog along the fields, the herd of sheep that were grazing beside became restless and started to bleat. First I thought they were afraid of my big black dog, so I shortened the leash. Suddenly all the sheep started to move briskly towards one direction. For a slight second I thought perhaps they sense an earth quake. Now the bleating grew louder and the sheep became more restless. I kept walking past them, having a close eye on them.

Right around the corner, a tractor turned in. I could only hear its engine now. The farmer in the tractor greeted me with a smile and a nod as he passed by and slowly drove towards the sheep. By now the sheep were bleating louder and nonstop. I stood there for a while totally amazed. Not only the sheep will hear its master’s voice, modern day sheep can hear the noise of their master’s tractor as well. There are quite a lot of farmers in our village and some of the farmers have more than two tractors.

The farmer went inside the electrified fence and the sheep were so fulfilled. He patted some of them, each one wanted it to be known that “my master is mine; and I am his”. Each one wanted his touch. They crowded around him forever bleating just to get their master’s attention. Where ever he walked they followed. He took a little lamb into his arms and walked further, the mother followed him closely knowing full well, her little one is in safe hands. The farmer went once around the fence, checking carefully for any damages, he checked the water trough. He then went into the shed that was there and all the sheep just stood quietly outside except for a few that were still so excited to see their master come to them. All their eyes stayed focused on only one spot – the door. When he came out after a minute or two, they were happily bleating again. He brought out a salt block and put it out for them. They weren’t so interested in the salt block; they just wanted to be close to their master.

I found a wooden bench to sit and just watched the whole drama. Tears were flowing in my eyes and I started to pray for such a passion of the sheep towards my master. To graze the green pastures with a longing to hear him come, way before my eyes could see him; way before my mind could grasp him.  A passion to see my master enter my world and to pat me. A passion to be drawn close to him and follow his every move. To feel safe in my master’s arm because he provides and he protects and he doesn’t threat.

The farmer got out and secured the fence carefully behind him. He sat in his tractor and drove past me with a smile and a nod. I nodded back to him and pretended a  smile to hide my tears. I continued watching the sheep. They ran bleating adjacent to the tractor as far as the fence allowed them to as if to say, “come back”. Then they stopped. They saw the tractor disappear in their eyes. They kept on watching towards where the tractor disappeared hoping their master would change his mind and turn around any time now. They stood there for quite a while and their bleating slowly faded. Some started to walk towards the salt block, some went grazing, and some kept watching the far end of the muddy road.

I stood up from the wooden bench and walked past the sheep. I could almost hear their passion on their innocent faces ask, “If you see my master, will you tell him, I long to be in his presence?”

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3 comments

  1. Hello Wolfgang and Mercy,

    yes, how good that in your country there are still shepherds and sheep which show by their example how God intended things to be. You know, there are parts of the world where people cannot really understand these words of Jesus about shepherds and sheep! For example here in Peru where I live. This is what I wrote about it several years ago:

    In a Peruvian context, this parable is not applicable, because of one detail: Peruvian shepherds do not walk ahead of their sheep. They walk behind them and drive them with a stick, as you would do with cows and other cattle.
    I believe this is more than a detail: it reflects a whole world-view about the relationship between a leader and his followers.

    Jesus compares us with sheep, not with cows, for a good reason. Sheep are capable of distinguishing the voice of their shepherd and following him trustfully. Even more: they need this wise and loving guidance, else they would get lost.
    Do you remember Bartolomé de las Casas’ description of the South American natives? – “the most simple, without evil nor falsehood, obedient, faithful to their natural and foreign lords… They are neat and with a lively understanding, very capable of being instructed in every good doctrine …”
    This gives us the impression of a people very willing to follow an authority, a “good shepherd” who would lead them on the right path. But instead of being fed, guided, and cared for, these sheep were driven, oppressed, and swallowed.

    Where the sheep follow the shepherd, there is a relationship of mutual trust. The sheep trust that the shepherd will lead them to good pastures, and so they follow him willingly. And the shepherd trusts that the sheep will actually follow him by their own will; he does not need to control continuously from behind if all of them are following the path. – Moreover, the shepherd will walk the path first. If there were a dangerous precipice, a broken bridge, a swamp – the shepherd would be first in noticing it and in confronting the danger. He is the one who gives the sheep an example: he will not expect them to walk a path he had not walked himself first.
    Where the shepherd walks behind the sheep, things are very different. There is nobody the sheep could follow; they have to find the way by themselves. And they feel constantly threatened from behind. Instead of trusting their shepherd, they fear him. The shepherd does not trust his sheep either: he has to push them in order to have them walk, and has to watch over them so they will not go astray. This relationship is characterized by mistrust, control and force on one hand, and fear on the other hand.
    Is this not like a mirror of what the Spaniards did in Peru? Is it possible that the attitude of the conqueror, the oppressor, has penetrated in this nation to such depths that it influences even the behaviour of shepherds toward their sheep?
    The conquest destroyed not only material things. What is much more serious: it destroyed every vision and every conscience of a good leadership. In consequence, from the conquest until today there have been very, very few examples of good, just and honest leaders; while bad leaders have reproduced themselves from generation to generation. We see this in every sphere which requires leadership: politics, work, the church, and even the family. Very few leaders in this nation show the characteristics of leadership Jesus taught and lived. There are many more leaders who “drive” their followers and who are not ready to explore themselves the path where they require their followers to walk.
    On the other hand, trust of people in their leadership was also destroyed. So there abound followers who fulfill their tasks unwillingly, only in appearance but not from their hearts, and with much mistrust toward their superiors.

    This is the core of the national tragedy. Every generation of wounded sheep produced a new generation of bad shepherds who caused new wounds. This vicious circle has never been broken, from the conquest until today.

    But there stands the real Good Shepherd, the Heavenly Father, and for a long time he has already been calling this nation: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
    But the wounded sheep do not trust him: “After all, God also represents power and authority. So one can never be sure what he will do with us. We better please him with some ceremonies and some alms, and keep our distance.”
    So the sheep remain wounded and do not approach the Good Shepherd. How many other shepherds have only beaten them when they approached them! And this is the most tragic aspect. For in Jesus is the solution of the problem! He offers healing for the wounded sheep; and he also offers a new model of leadership and authority which could revolutionize not only their personal lives, but also public and even political life of this country, if only this model would be received and applied.

    – Sadly, even the churches in this country are following the example of the “bad shepherd” instead of the Good Shepherd; so Christians are being abused and wounded even by their pastors. And more sadly, many “want to have it so”, as Jeremiah (?) said. How much must our Heavenly Father long to restore the example of the Good Shepherd also in this part of the world!

    Greetings and blessings,

    Hans

    1. In our place there are very few shepherds who still lead their sheep to graze, the rest graze the fields surrounded by electric fence. Again this is not how it is supposed to be. In the spiritual, it is the same too. Instead of following the good shepherd, Jesus, and graze fresh grounds, the sheep are conditioned to not to live beyond their fence, called church, a church that is built to the patterns and traditions of men. The trough is filled once weekly and the salt block is readily there in case the sheep wants to get thirsty. Therefore the sheep is bored of the same old , same old fodder and is confined in that field by electric borders. They long to be with their good shepherd, they long to hear his voice and follow him and graze where he leads, and drink from fresh streams. …But, the electric fence! So they wait, conditioned by the fence until someone would come and release them free so that they can follow the true good Shepherd.

      What you write is so true, Hans. That’s why at some point God is calling non-pastors, apostles and prophets, to break that vicious circle of co-dependency. I hope that something like this will soon happen in Peru. maybe, because you have a heart for this, you are one to gather such people and encourage them to do something that no one has done before… break that fence!
      Bless you
      Mercy.

  2. What a moving and beautiful picture of how our Lord intended things to be. I am afraid we are still a long way away from this, but the Good Shepherd is working day in and day out to make it a reality.

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