Have you ever created a sheep? One day, did you decide you wanted to have a pet sheep, and so you made one? Of course not!
Have you ever met anyone who has created a sheep? Sure scientists have cloned sheep, but did they really create it? Of course not! All they did was take DNA from one sheep cell and put it into an egg and watch it grow. The sheep was not created by scientists.
What about by sorcery? Have you ever seen anyone speak a few words and conjure a sheep? Of course not, because that is ridiculous. You can’t create a sheep by magic.
God created sheep. Both in the literal and metaphorical sense, God created sheep. He created the white and black fluffy farm animals, but he also created humans as sheep. And sheep are stupid; several years ago a story went around the internet about a herd of sheep that jumped into a ravine. An entire flock of sheep, careening through the air because they are too stupid to know that running off a cliff is bad. The first 400 sheep died, but the next 1100 survived because the mass of fluffy bodies at the bottom cushioned their fall. And if sheep are too stupid to know what will and won’t kill them, what does that say about us?
Last night we had yet another Bible discussion in St. Pete, this week over the first half of John 10. This is the passage where Jesus tells us that he is the good shepherd and we are his sheep, his stupid, pitiful sheep that he loves. Sheep need a shepherd, otherwise they will end up like the sheep in the ravine: dead. We are dying and we don’t even know it; our sin is killing us every day of our lives. If we cannot find something to follow in this world, something that will save us, we will all be dead one day.
And I’m not talking about physical death, because that is inevitable for every human; I am talking about a spiritual death, the Second Death, an eternity in a place of unimaginable suffering. Jesus tells a parable in Luke 16 of a rich man man full of greed, and a poor man named Lazarus who sits at the rich man’s gate only wanting to eat the scraps of food from the rich man. When the time comes, they both die; Lazarus goes up to heaven while the rich man goes to hell. He laments his selfish life, longs for even a drop of water to cool the fire on his tongue, and begs for Lazarus to rise from the dead to warn his brothers about the torment that awaits them in hell. But the rich man is told that there is a great chasm between him and Lazarus, between Heaven and Hell, a chasm so great that nothing can pass between them. The rich man made his choice to live in sin and selfish greed, and at the end of his life now regrets it; his life has now become death, but he is helpless to change and he must suffer the consequences of his choices.
This is the very same death that awaits us all, that we are all deserving of. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). We are helpless to save ourselves from our sin--we don’t even know it is killing us. We are like sheep, running off a cliff because we want to follow something, even if following it leads us to our death. But wouldn't you rather follow that which brings life and joy everlasting? Because this is the promise of Jesus, the promise that was signed in blood as he hung on the cross, and the promise that was fulfilled when he rose from the dead. Death is punishment for sin, but in Jesus there was no sin, and thus death could not hold him. “God made him who knew no sin to be sin for us, so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). I know that I am a sheep in need of a shepherd. I know my shepherd, his name is Jesus; I recognize his voice, and I will follow him wherever he may take me, because I know that he is for me, and that he has great things planned for this sheep.
But there is another point I want to make about sheep. At our English Movie Night last week, a couple guys had some questions and were interested to know more about the Bible, but they were ultimately failing to trust in its accuracy. Clint, one of the missionaries here, and Kacy stayed late that night talking to them, and Clint shared an incredible piece of wisdom. One guy asked how he could trust that the Bible is is accurate. Clint responded by saying that God created sheep.
Now how is that any kind of answer to that question? We can trust in the truth of the Bible because God created sheep. But let me ask you this: Have you ever created a sheep? Have you ever met anyone who has created a sheep? Of course not! But God created sheep. And if God can create sheep, I can trust that he can keep his Holy Word accurate.
And I know that I am that sheep. Because God created sheep.