Sheep Without a Shepherd

In Mark 6, Jesus and his apostles get on a boat to escape the crowd and find a quiet place to rest. The crowd has other ideas and meets them on the shore when they arrive. Rather than get frustrated, Jesus “had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd.” When I see those words, I am reminded of an article I read in 2005.
ISTANBUL, Turkey (AP) — First one sheep jumped to its death. Then stunned Turkish shepherds, who had left the herd to graze while they had breakfast, watched as nearly 1,500 others followed, each leaping off the same cliff, Turkish media reported. In the end, 450 dead animals lay on top of one another in a billowy white pile, the Aksam newspaper said. Those who jumped later were saved as the pile got higher and the fall more cushioned, Aksam reported. “There’s nothing we can do. They’re all wasted,” Nevzat Bayhan, a member of one of 26 families whose sheep were grazing together in the herd, was quoted as saying by Aksam. The estimated loss to families in the town of Gevas, located in Van province in eastern Turkey, tops $100,000, a significant amount of money in a country where average GDP per head is around $2,700. “Every family had an average of 20 sheep,” Aksam quoted another villager, Abdullah Hazar as saying. “But now only a few families have sheep left. It’s going to be hard for us.” (USA Today, 7-8-05)
It’s a sad, yet almost comical story to think of one sheep after another walking off that cliff. It’s easy to step back and think of just how dumb those sheep must be. Don’t people do the same kind of thing every day though? How many times do we see people blindly following others into self-destructive actions? How many times do we continue to make the same mistakes and fall into the same sins? Too many times we are like sheep without a shepherd just like this crowd was. Jesus responds not with impatience, frustrations, or an I told you so. He has compassion, teaches and even feeds more than 5000 of them. In John 10:11, He goes even further and says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Let’s all step out of the line of sheep heading toward that cliff and follow the good shepherd who loves us enough to lay down His life for us.

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