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A look at sheep as Easter approaches

Monkey Business Images/iStock/Thinkstock shepherd with herd of sheep
SPECIAL ANIMAL: You likely don’t see “special” and “sheep” in the same sentence too often. Yet shepherds and sheep played important roles, both literally and figuratively, in the Bible.
Hayhurst’s Hayloft: You probably haven’t thought about sheep like this before.

By Susan Hayhurst

If you have sheep, that makes you a shepherd. Shepherds have carried a colossal-sized responsibility for thousands of years. Their example is the one and only Chief Shepherd, Jesus Christ.

Sheep are animals that need tending, guiding, leading, feeding. Shepherds are known for being selfless, devoted and strong.

Shepherds are mentioned 300 times in the Bible, according to Reader’s Digest’s, “The ABCs of the Bible.” They were always looking for pools of water and grazing land, and nursing sick and weak sheep. Shepherds were protectors, using their staffs or clubs to drive off wild animals and thieves.

While sheep are cared for by their shepherds, they’re also recognized for being a sacrifice. The oft-quoted “sheep were born to die” is true. In the Old Testament, sheep were often the sacrificial lambs burned on the altar for our sin.

Isaiah 53:6-7 tells us: “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter … a sheep before her shearers is silent.”

Today’s lambs run free because the one and only Lamb without blemish paid the price for all time. The animal sacrifice is no longer necessary.

Do your sheep know your voice? Do you call them by name? The Good Shepherd knows his sheep. “The man who enters by the gate is the shepherd of his sheep … and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice.” — John 10:2-4

As we worship during Easter, rejoice in knowing that Jesus, the risen Savior, calls us, His sheep, by name and leads us moment by moment.

Hayhurst writes from Terre Haute, Ind.

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