Teatowels & Toy Sheep

Annoyingly, when ‘we in the West’ think of shepherds, the first things that enter our minds are tea-towels wrapped around heads, and stuffed toy sheep being dragged by pieces of string by gormless 5 year old boys staring into space as they meander across their school stage. Sure, it’s a cute picture, and for me there’s not much funnier than watching pre-schoolers in school nativities (moments comedy gold & oscar worthy performances, trust me).

But in reality shepherds were so much more than that.

A shepherd’s Job Description would not look too appealing to be honest. Staying up all night protecting their sheep. Leading flocks of (arguably) the most stupid animal around from place to place. Ushering them together. Keeping strict count of the hundreds they would be in charge of. Finding and rescuing the lost sheep.

A stressful, exhausting, and all-consuming job.

To be a shepherd was also considered hugely dangerous. Amidst the protecting of sheep, it was not unusual for a shepherd to have to fight off animals in order that the sheep would not be harmed. A shepherd would need to be courageous, strong and always alert. They would do anything for their flock.

I don’t know about you, but sometimes when I read certain passages, verse, chapters of the Bible, I can get used to them, and become familiar with them. When we do this, sometimes we can mentally ‘numb-down’ the power of what we have read.

‘The LORD is my Shepherd’

A classic example of a phrase that has been read and repeated for years, and often numbed’ by many. But this is a powerful image. In John 10 Jesus talks about how we are not looked after by a ‘hired hand’, somebody who doesn’t really care, who has no real interest or commitment. We are lead, and protected by Him who is a shepherd, the good Shepherd. He is deeply committed, more than we’ll ever understand. He is deeply courageous, powerfully faithful and always with us.

If you have an image of a teatowel clad boy as a Shepherd, then change that image. God is your courageous, strong, alert protector, who will do ANYTHING for you. And ultimately, he has done EVERYTHING for you.


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