Saturday, January 12, 2008

Word Pictures

Have you ever noticed how much information is packed into one photo?

In our age of computers we can actually compare.

One high resolution photo has 2000 kb….which would equate to 40 pages of a typical word document.
That certainly gives evidence and validity to the ancient Chinese saying “A picture is worth 10,000 words.”
Not only is there much more information packed into one photo but the information from a picture is transferred to our brain ever so much quicker and more accurately than information from the typed word.

Is it any wonder then that Jesus used word pictures so often in His teaching? He wanted to give as much truth and understanding to His listeners as possible.

And I know that He chose His pictures with care so that the information gleaned from them would convey the Truth.

I was thinking the other day about the picture He gave us of Himself as the Good Shepherd of the sheep.
It is a picture that the more you think about it and the more you learn about shepherds the more you see Jesus and understand the relationship he desires to have with us.

(If you have never read Phillip Keller’s book ‘A Shepherd Looks at Psalm 23’… please read it. It is a beautiful, inspiring book! )

I was wondering … how differently I might see Jesus if the picture He gave us was another one.
What if He had compared Himself to a farmer raising animals in a barn?

First I would see that the animals, while they were very safe and secure - their safety was provided by pens or fences. They were not free.
Not only were they not physically free but they are also not free to be who they perhaps would want to be.
The farmer feeds them what he thinks they should eat… he feeds them when they should eat…. He controls their activity, limits their exercise.
He separates them from each other or crowds them together as he sees fit.
All with his own agenda in mind… to fulfill his own desires and ultimately serve his own needs. The animals are even kept alive or killed according to would be gainful to him.

It is also convenient for the farmer that he does not have to be with his animals 24/7. They are held prisoner in their enclosure.
He does his chores and then he is free to go off and do his own thing.

Then I thought about how different the Shepherd picture is.

The sheep are free!
They wander under the sky, over the grassy slopes of the pasture, enjoying the sunshine… eating when they are hungry and munching on what appeals to them.
They have the free will choice of straying or staying close to the Shepherd… but always the Shepherd is there for them – watching over them, calling them back when they wander too far, watching for the wild animals that would threaten them.
The Shepherd is there 24/7 to comfort and love His sheep --- He abides with them … lives with them, stands guard over them at night.
He knows each sheep by name and always His thoughts are toward His sheep … knowing what is good for each one of them.

Which would you rather be? The farmer’s animal? Or the Shepherd’s sheep?

No question in my mind … I want to be a sheep!! and I want to stay very close to my Shepherd, Jesus, following Him where ever He leads.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want!!” Psalm 23:1


James Janzen said...

Isn't it amazing how stories from the Bible never loose their meaning? Even though sheep farmers it modern day are not much different than cattle farmers the perception of sheep is still as it was in Biblical times. I too want to be a sheep! :-)

Julie said...

Yes, it is amazing how the stories never lose their meaning... and what preserves the picture of Jesus as the Shepherd of sheep is that even in our modern times the farmer of sheep is not called a shepherd a Shepherd is still a Shepherd...and his job description has not changed.

Lovella said...

Me too!!!

Sara said...

....And me! I love James' comment, so true.