I'm resting after having minor surgery. I should be completely recovered in just a few days.
Since I'm just relaxing at home today, I had a chance to write another entry in the "Opening the Bible" blog at i.ucc.org
It's called "Intelligent sheep."
I've seen a video of a sheep running into a wall. It's usually used as evidence that all sheep are stupid. Does that mean that one person tripping and falling is evidence that all humans are clumsy?
Sheep tend to stay close with other sheep. If they get separated they become quite agitated and uncomfortable. They know that when they are together as a flock they are more protected from predators.
Sheep recognize sheep faces -- and human faces to some extent. They recognized sounds and can even recognize the voice of the shepherd who tends to the flock they are part of.
Sheep know how to choose the kind of food that will give them the best nourishment based on the season and their dietary needs.
All in all, the intelligence level of sheep isn't just 'not baaaaaad,' it's pretty good! (I love that terrible joke.)
Shepherds -- on the other hand, can be good for, or not so good for, their flock. If they care for the sheep and seek to protect them from trouble, they do what is good for the sheep. If they try to lead them astray and run at the first sign of danger -- they don't.
Maybe it's all to simple in this one. In our main Bible reading for this week, John 10-11-18, the words of Jesus say "I am the good shepherd." A shepherd that cares deeply for the flock and does not desert them when there is trouble. The good shepherd has a connection with the sheep that someone who doesn't care about the sheep can never have.
I don't know how much more to unpack this one -- We're the sheep -- intelligent and in need of a shepherd -- and Jesus is the good shepherd.
The image of love and caring from Jesus in this passage brings peace to my mind.
If feels like a deep, cleansing breath.