Sheep without a Shepherd

 

Theme: Jesus cares for those who have lost their way. Proper 11 (16) 8th Sunday after Pentecost
Object: A book of Mother Goose nursery rhymes
Scripture: When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So he began teaching them many things. Mark 6:34 (NIV)

I can still remember the days when as a small child, my mother read to me from a book of Mother Goose nursery rhymes. I'll bet someone read those poems to you as well. Do you know the one about Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall? How about the one about the Three Blind Mice or Little Miss Muffet sat on a Tuffet? Those are all good ones! Do you know what my favorite was? It was Little Bo Peep. You know that one, don't you?

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep,
And can't tell where to find them;
Leave them alone, and they'll come home,
Bringing their tails behind them.

Wait a minute! "Leave them alone and they'll come home." Do you think that is good advice? If you had flock of sheep and they wandered off and got lost, would you just leave them alone and hope they would find their way back? No, of course not. You would go out and search until you found them and you would bring them back home.

Did you know that sheep are the one of the most frequently mentioned animals in the Bible? I searched the Bible and found more than 200 verses that mention sheep. Jesus quite often compared people to sheep and Jesus said of himself, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

In our Bible reading today, we see that Jesus and his disciples had been working very hard. They had been traveling from town to town teaching and preaching. The Bible tells us that they were so busy that they didn't even have a chance to eat. Jesus could see that they were tired, so he said to them, "Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest." So they got in a boat and went away by themselves to a quiet place. But guess what? When they got there, they looked out and saw a great crowd of people waiting for them.

It would have been an easy thing for Jesus to say to the crowd, "You all go on your way. We are tired and need some rest. Come back some other time." But Jesus didn't do that. He looked at the crowd and "He was moved with compassion because they were like sheep without a shepherd." What does "he was moved with compassion" mean? Does that mean he felt sorry for them? No, it means more than that. It means that when Jesus saw that they were like sheep without a shepherd, he was moved to action. Remember what Jesus said about himself? "The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep."

"Leave them alone and they'll come home, bringing their tails behind them." Not Jesus! Not the "Good Shepherd!" He lays down his life for the sheep.

Father, we thank you for sending Jesus. We are thankful that he never leaves us wandering, lost and alone, without a shepherd to guide us. In Jesus' name we pray. Amen.