LIKE SHEEP WITHOUT A SHEPHERD
I was fourteen when we became refugees for the second time. We ended up in the heart of Germany where arable land was scares. People with two or three sheep entrusted them to a shepherd. He had a wagon, light wooden fences to shelter the sheep at night, and one or two dogs. Some shepherds had their dogs bark only at the sheep. Others had their dogs nip at them and hurt them.
We too lived under three governments that treated us like sheep. Some leaders had their dogs bark at us and some had theirs dogs do more than just nip. That is why I can understand what Jesus meant when He said, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered” (Matthew 26:31). “When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36). “I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore, be as clever as serpents and as innocent as doves. But be on your guard against men; they will hand you over to their governments and flog you in their courthouses” (Matthew 10:16-17). Have we arrived at such a time?
The followers of Jesus are harmless like sheep; yet, the world fears them more than they do ferocious wolves. Why would worldly leaders hiss their dogs on helpless sheep and harass them? Jesus told His disciples, “All men will hate you because of me” (Matthew 10:22). “On my account you will be dragged before governors and kings as witnesses against them and before the Gentiles” (Matthew 10:18). “They hated me without a cause” (John 15:25). John, the Apostle, added a comment that help us understand the problem, “They went out from us because they did not really belong to us” (I John 2:19). When Jesus spoke these words of warning, they were directed at the people that at one time were chosen to represent godliness in the world; but, they had failed miserably. These people had hoped to end Jesus’ impact by disgracing Him on a cross. To the contrary, they raised Him up in His followers. Now they saw Jesus in His followers as a constant reminder of what the true God demanded of them. It was inconceivable to the religious elite that Jesus and His disciples could possibly be the genuine agents of the only and true God (John 7:45-52). Now, they had to listen to Moses, the Prophets and to Jesus’ disciples (John 17:20).
Christians, that tried to imitate Christ, have been treated like sheep; even by other Christians, that thought they were rendering a service to God (John 16:1-4). When the U.S.A. became a nation, the followers of Jesus multiplied and prospered under the protection of the Constitution. But, when the principles and life-style of Jesus became too demanding for our worldly leaders, they used legal interpretations to discredit the shepherds (pastors) and drive the sheep into stalls or sanctuaries. These legal prosecutors have managed to cut Jesus out of the public life of this nation and prohibited His followers to use His name in public. Their aim is to silence the message of Christ because it is a constant reminder of what humans ought to be and are not. Without the Shepherd (Jesus) of this nation, it is becoming a prey to leaders and systems for what this nation was never intended. A lesson can be learned from Zechariah circa 520 B.C. His people removed God from public life and silenced His messengers. The Babylonians came and subjected Israel or Judah for seventy years. Revelation is telling us that there is a New Babylon rising on the horizon with its eyes on “the land of the brave and the free” (Revelation 17). It is quite apparent that this nation has struck the Shepherd and it is now disintegrating.
At the present, we are all struck with blindness (Romans 11:8). Like Israel, our leaders have rejected Jesus. The way things are going against us in the world we may have to beg Jesus to come to our rescue. I would like to paraphrase what Jesus would tell us. “O America, America, you who have eliminated my messengers and disabled those sent to you, how often have I wanted to gather your people together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you refused my offer. Now, your affairs of your country are in shambles. You can be sure of this. You cannot count on my help until you beg and say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'” (Matthew 23:37-39). We will beg Jesus to come back; only, it shall be too late.