This picture is of a sheep that has been “cast down.” “Cast down” meant that a sheep would lie down and would not be able to get up. He would be on his back, flailing, not being able to get up. And if the sheep is like that for a while, guess what would happen? The sheep would die. So a good shepherd is going to watch for the cast sheep. Sheep get cast all the time. As humans, we too can become cast down in the same way that sheep can. One of the reasons sheep, like humans need to be led, is that left to ourselves we get into a lot of trouble. We wander off a cliff, fall into a hole, get attacked or become cast down. Sheep need a shepherd and Christians need to follow the leading of Jesus. David was a shepherd and wrote Psalm 42:11. “Why are you cast down, oh my soul?” See that phrase cast down? It is a shepherding term. How do we become cast? I have found that we get cast when we become lazy or apathetic. That is what happens to the sheep. They get behind, they are not keeping up with the flock and decide to lay down and they get cast. A lot of Christians are in danger of becoming cast when they get apathetic or lazy. We think, “well I have served, I have given, I have done my time, I’ll just hang out and do nothing. They say they want to get to that position, and once they reach it; there will be no problems. They think they won’t need any endurance, any vision, and any commitment. They think they can just relax. If you do that, you will be in danger of getting cast. Don’t get lazy! The Christian life is about following Jesus: loving God and loving people. We serve and we give. It is not easy. It will take everything you have. But it is the life you were wired up to live.
Another way humans as sheep can become cast is if our wool coats become too thick and too heavy. Sheep have thick wool coats that begin to collect everything – burrs, briers, mud and manure. And if that happens, they can easily get cast. Things just stick to the sheep like Velcro. We can become cast if too many things of the world stick to us: “my stuff, my hobbies, my vacations, my recreational pursuits, my car, my motorcycle, and my wardrobe.” Not that these things are wrong but when they take up too much place in my life they can stick to me like Velcro, weigh me down and if I can become cast.
What happens when a sheep has a coat that is too thick – all matted with mud and manure and briars and burrs? What does the shepherd do? He takes out the shears and goes to work. The sheep begins to feel naked. He has been sheared by the shepherd. The shepherd has to do this. And the Good Shepherd sometimes has to do this to you and to me. We become too proud, too cool, too hip, too vogue, too attached to the things of the world. And when He shears us we will cry and moan and ask God why He is doing that to us. He is doing it to help us, to improve us, to make us more and more reliant on Him.
There is one more reason we become cast, when we are overweight. When a sheep has gained too much weight, it can become cast. A good shepherd will put the sheep on a diet. He will probably lead it to pastures of oat bran. Oftentimes we have a lot of people who go by the label of Christian who just want more and more information, more and more Bible knowledge. They think they have to know theology and eschatology, etc. and they ingest calorie after calorie and get spiritually fat. They are spiritually fat because they don’t really use their gifts; use their talents within the context of the local church. The Bible was not written for our information. It was written for our transformation. Instead of being studied, it should be lived out. So if we just sit there and eat and eat and not move forward to work off what we have eaten we will become cast. Jesus tells us to exercise by serving, exercise by going to tell others. He leads us to do these things not just sit around and eat. As our Good Shepherd..
Jesus Leads Us
4 After he has gathered his own flock, he walks ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice.
Since He’s the Good Shepherd, I can trust him to provide the leadership I need for my life.
He doesn’t prod me forward. Cattle are driven sheep are lead. A lot of us think we serve a rawhide type God. We think that God is in heaven singing, “Rollin, rollin, rollin, keep them doggies rollin, rawhide…” God doesn’t drive, He guides. He leads me and He leads you in paths of righteousness, in paths that are right for you and for you and for you. What a great Shepherd we follow. And as we shadow the Shepherd, He promises us that He will lead us to the right paths, the right avenues of life.
The other great thing about Jesus leading is that he will not make me go somewhere He’s not willing to go. He goes ahead of me. And you know what that means? It means when I can’t see what’s ahead – I can trust that if the Lord is leading me that way I can trust him – He can see what’s ahead because he’s already there! And he can see what’s coming up and he can help me avoid dangerous places on the path.
In the next post we will see that Jesus protects me.