Say 'New Zealand' to most people and it conjures up images of fabulous scenery, the All Blacks rugby team, Bilbo Baggins and, of course, sheep.
Talking of sheep and New Zealand, I wanted to include the following story from the Independent Newspaper, 8th June 2011:
In a country where sheep outnumber humans 10 to one, a merino (sheep) named Shrek stood out from the flock. Found in a mountain cave in New Zealand after six years on the run, he sported a fleece so enormous that he resembled "some Biblical creature", his owner recalls.
Shrek became an instant celebrity; shorn live on national television with the footage broadcast simultaneously on CNN, he subsequently travelled the world, promoting New Zealand wool and raising money for charity. "He was just an ordinary sheep, went AWOL and hid, and when he was found he became the darling of the nation," said John Perriam, who owns the South Island farm that was his home.
When (he) evaded the annual shearing round-ups by hiding in caves he was assumed to be dead. When he was found in 2004 he was carrying 27 kilos of fleece - about six times the average from a merino, and enough to make 20 large men's suits.
Its auction on the internet was only the start of Shrek's career. He commanded appearance fees of NZ$16,000 (nearly £8,000). He raised $150,000 for medical research, and earned an estimated $100m in publicity for wool exporters. "He didn't really see himself as a sheep," Mr Perriam said. "He had an unbelievable personality. He loved children, and he was really good with the elderly."
So the sheep that was lost (for 6 years!) finally came back to the fold. I'm not totally sure what the comment about "some Biblical creature" really meant but the Bible has a fair bit to say about sheep…
The people of God are often referred to as sheep. It is not usually in glowing terms either. Think of sheep and the words 'dumb', 'directionless' and 'defenceless' may spring to mind!
All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him. Isaiah 53:6
Just like Shrek the sheep, let's be honest, we all wander to places where we shouldn't wander to. I love Jesus' parable of the lost sheep (Matt 18:12-14, Luke 15:3-7) where the good Shepherd leaves his flock of 99 sheep in order to find the one sheep who is lost. A finer summary on 'redemption' you aren't ever likely to read!
Sheep need a good Shepherd. Without a shepherd, sheep will wander away from the fold and may get into some serious trouble. There are people and religions today who offer to shepherd those who are in need of direction and purpose. But these offer no true protection. There is only one Good Shepherd, the Lord Jesus Christ.
I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and is not concerned about the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know Me, even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. John 10:11-15
Why follow the coward when you can follow the Creator?
Why follow an imitation when you can follow Immanuel?
Why follow a feeble fraud when you can follow a faithful Friend?
Speaking of Jesus, hundreds of years before He would give up His life on Calvary's cross, the Prophet Isaiah recorded this…
Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried; yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed.
Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He did die for sinners like you and me. We too, like David, can say "the LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want." Let us trust only in Him, listen to Him implicitly and follow Him where He would have us go.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give eternal life to them, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand. (John 10:27-28)
My sheep know My voice, and the valley of death
Through which I shall lead them some day;
But no danger nor harm can touch one of them,
For I will be with them alway.
Until next month then (DV)…
(All quotations are from the NASB)
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