I love the image of the shepherd and the sheep.
Especially the Psalm 23 image: the Shepherd taking me to green pastures where I can munch to my heart’s content and lie down and rest with my feet dangling in some quiet waters under the shade of a tree.
No wonder I like it - it is a picture of heaven! (Revelation 7:15-17)
What does it mean to be a sheep?
Hebrews 13:20 -21 gives us a hint. The task of God, through our Lord Jesus - the great Shepherd of the sheep - is to equip us with all that is good to do His will.
In John 10 we read that the sheep know the shepherd and they follow him (vs.27).
Does he just lead us to more green grass?
Following the Shepherd’s history we see that he lays down his life for the sheep he loves (Jn 10:11), and later he calls on those he loves to love others in the same way (Jn 15:12) - to follow in the way of service and sacrifice for his name’s sake.
Jesus also has sheep in other “folds” that he goes to bring in. Remember Jesus’ final words to his disciples: “Go...and make disciples of all nations,...teaching them to observe everything I have commanded you.” The task of bringing in the sheep from all nations belongs to those who follow the Shepherd.
Sheep are really disciple-making disciples who are following the Good Shepherd. They have the great privilege of being called by name and kept safe by him - and of sharing in his sufferings in order to glorify his name.
The Bible doesn’t give us the alternative of being fat sheep, feeding on green pastures, growing careless of the Shepherd’s call. If we know the Shepherd we will follow the Shepherd. We will take his word to all. We will lay down our lives to serve.