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Posted February 27, 2010


Sheep were mentioned in the Bible more than 500 times and more than any other animal. Jesus was also referred to as the good shepherd and used examples from the Levant's agrarian culture when teaching.

Having led many tours to Israel, Roy Gustafson told a story about sheep in his book, In His Hand. On one of his visits, they met a shepherd carrying one of his sheep that had a broken leg. The break had been treated with a splint and bandage.

A local guide who'd lived in the area for fifty years said, "The shepherd broke that sheep's leg himself."

The explanation: When a rogue sheep kept wandering off, it lead others astray. Though the shepherd loved his sheep, he had to discipline them so they all stayed together for their safety and well-being. The sheep had to be broken of their self-willed ways.

The shepherd carried the sheep on his shoulders and pet it, fondly tugging at its ears while talking to it, until the break had healed and bonding with his shepherd was complete. Hopefully, the sheep would no longer wander and lead the other sheep astray.

Some compare the shepherd's actions to how God dealt with his people.

I've heard some say, "That story can't be true. Besides, God is a loving God and would never hurt us. Jesus is a healer as well."

However, we have to consider the flood, the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, along with other stories like King David's when he chose the quickest punishment for his sin - plague - which killed 70,000 Israelites in three days. (2 Sam 24) The Israelites were sent into captivity because they refused to obey God and His laws. In Acts 5, Ananias and Safira were killed. When the Philistines stole the Ark of Covenant, they were struck down with illness. There are so many more stories about God disciplining his people.

Like an earthly father, our heavenly Father will discipline though he gives us many opportunities to make things right and to repent of our sin. We were given freewill. Even though we have made bad choices, Jesus is the good shepherd who binds up our wounds and leads us back into the sheepfold.

"I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful." John 15:1

David was the apple of God's eye. He was a king who loved the Lord and when he sinned, he repented and continued following God. He had been a good shepherd who knew the ways of unruly sheep. "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word. It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes." (Ps 119:67, 71)

I recently heard a Bible teacher say, "People are no longer convicted of their sin because they don't think what they're doing is sinful. If they don't think they are sinning, they do not know they have a need for a Savior. "

Christ said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. (Matt 10:34)

As long as we stray, we can be sure to feel the bite of that sword.

If your legs have been broken of late, perhaps it's time to ride on the shoulders of the healer for awhile.

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