Last week my wife and I holidayed in Devon. A land of stunning scenery and spectacular ice cream. But more about that another time.
Who knows the context? Was the sheep ill, having a difficult labour, or simply stubborn? We will never know. What is clear is that the shepherds did whatever was necessary to take the sheep where it needed to go. I was reminded of the passage in Luke 15:4-7
“Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbours together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (NIV11)
In the Palestine parable the shepherd carried his sheep, while in the North Devon photograph the shepherds dragged their sheep (they don’t look up to carrying the sheep to me!) – but the end result was the same. A lost, needy sheep was rescued. Perhaps the main point is that Jesus will do whatever it takes to reach us and take us to safety.
When was the last time you brought to mind all the things Jesus did to rescue you? Why not spend the next prayer time in grateful reflection. I’m guessing it will reconnect with you with the joy of the friends and neighbours in the parable, and the rejoicing hordes of heaven. Whether you are on the shoulders, or in the tin bath, sing a song of joy, for the shepherd has come, and we are safe again!