“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters.3 He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. 4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord forever.”Psalm 23: 1-6 ESV
When I first returned to the Lord, this passage kept being unintentionally recited in my head. The benefit of having so much of the Bible memorized is recall when you need it (and that is usually when I can’t think of it)! The flip side is passages will run in my mind, even when it isn’t something I am thinking about. And this one played like a catching jingle, over and over. It seemed trite. I struggled to find any comfort, peace or message that directly applied to me.
I went to my cousin’s church and a lady spoke a word in the spirit – she said something down the lines of: You are My sheep which I have prepared a table for – you are worthy of eating the whole thing, yet refuse and feel unworthy of even my table scraps. But this table is set for you and it overflows. Come to the table and eat. I have restored you by the work of the cross.
I spent much time searching the Bible for verses on sheep and tables looking for a meaning that was right in front of my face – I just hadn’t pulled my chair up to the table at first. And in case you are also as slow and literal as I am – it’s me – I am the sheep – the table is set for me. (Also it’s you – you are also sheep with your own table prepared.)
With Passover, Good Friday and tomorrow is Resurrection Sunday – I have been reminded of these sheep passages again – as Christ is our Passover lamb. There have been lots of images on the internet with sheep, sermons with verses with sheep, etc. So I recall my own reconciliation story and how the sheep were so integrated in it and then I think about my ever growing list of people I am praying for who are in that place of knowing/yet not knowing – they need reconciliation – they are like sheep who have gone astray.
“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 ESV
I had turned my own way and was lost. Jesus sought me, long before I sought him. He loved me and wanted me back and when I came back he prepared the table like in the story of the prodigal son. But unlike the earthly father in the prodigal story who stays home waiting – Jesus says in the parable before that, that a good shepherd leaves the other sheep and goes searching for the one lost one. Jesus’s love was that much more – great!
“3 So he told them this parable: 4 “What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he has lost one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the open country, and go after the one that is lost, until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost.’ 7 Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance.”Luke 15:3-7 ESV
Heaven rejoices when anyone turns to Jesus – and many times it seems to us that we reached out to him and turned to him (and even use that terminology). However, Jesus made us, and then chased us down until we finally turn. Did you notice that when we turned he was right there? Because Jesus followed us, calling us back.
“7 Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. 8 All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. 9 I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. 10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.John 10:1-21 NIV
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. 12 The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. 13 The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
14 “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. 17 The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
I have watched the enemy sneak into our pens, climbing over the fences and not using the gate – and steal, kill and destroy. Especially lately. Many are without peace, overwhelmed, afraid and worried. But Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly!
Wow, sheep. Usually not the smartest of animals – but they have been raise up by God to be a significant creature throughout the Bible. Granted a large portion on the Bible was written for sheep farmers, but God raised this lowly animal up and it is now identified with Christ himself. Christ in this study is the shepherd – 2 days ago in that study he was the Passover lamb. But he became flesh, became man (and if man = sheep, then Jesus became sheep) and rose again as the shepherd!
I am always in awe at the artistry of the Bible. When a theme carries throughout from Old Testament to New. I could write an entire book on sheep through the bible and it seems to always relate back to the reconciliation story of the cross. So, today – the day in between the death and the resurrection. I sit here grateful for the grace God has given to the sheep, my good shepherd, my own restoration story, and the table we shall all sit down at together when we finally get to heaven and feast. I am a significant sheep. You are a significant sheep.
Grace be with you ~Thank you for reading ~ be healthy and blessed ~ Pray for our nation ~ pray Psalm 91