All we like sheep have gone astray;
we have turned—every one—to his own way;
and the Lord has laid on him
the iniquity of us all. — Isaiah 53:6
Sheep are dumb. Yet smart at the same time. They have an innate sense of nature around them, what areas of land to graze which will yield the highest nutrients for their bodies and then consume far above and beyond the levels needed. However, they are incapable of finding it on their own. They need a shepherd. If they are not led by a shepherd they will literally walk off of a cliff together as a herd.
In that day, declares the Lord,
I will assemble the lame
and gather those who have been driven away
and those whom I have afflicted;
and the lame I will make the remnant,
and those who were cast off, a strong nation;
and the Lord will reign over them in Mount Zion
from this time forth and forevermore. — Micah 4:6-7
Sheep are prey. Their bodies (eyes, smell, taste, and hearing) are all designed in such a way where they can sense danger and flee. However, they are not fast, they are not efficient. Many times they can all run together, but inevitable there will be victims and sheep who will not survive an attack by larger aggressive wolves in their midst.
But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah,
who are too little to be among the clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to be ruler in Israel,
whose coming forth is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has given birth;
then the rest of his brothers shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth.
And he shall be their peace.
Sheep need a shepherd. Sheep are messy, dirty, and defenseless. This is why the Bible describes humanity as sheep. We have chosen our own way. The inevitable result of sheep without a shepherd it to be left to their own devices which brings death either from lack of resources, to lack to protection, to stupid decisions. Jesus is our guide, our guardian, and our redeemer.
Jesus is the good shepherd. The Bible says that we will know His voice and we will follow Him, we will respond to Him, and He will lead us to good pasture, we will eat our fill, we will be protected, we will be disciplined, we will be rescued. Jesus will forgive us for “going our own way” and return us to the flock because He loves us. He will sheer our wool (which is not enjoyable) to rid us of the filth and muck we have gotten into and make us clean.
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity
and passing over transgression
for the remnant of his inheritance?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in steadfast love.
He will again have compassion on us;
he will tread our iniquities underfoot.
You will cast all our sins
into the depths of the sea.
You will show faithfulness to Jacob
and steadfast love to Abraham,
as you have sworn to our fathers
from the days of old. — Micah 7:18-20
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep. And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd. – John 10:14-16