The most common animal mentioned in Scripture is a sheep.
In fact, we see over and over where believers are referred to as a flock of sheep. It is hard to fully understand sheep when we do not live around them to see how they truly act.
A friend of mine, who lived in England for two months, once told me a story. Everyday she would walk by the same pasture and hear the shepherd call out to his sheep. After observing for a few days, she walked by the sheep again- this time she imitated the sound of the shepherd. The only sheep to respond was a baby. The baby looked up at her hesitantly, and then ran away. My friend experienced what Jesus was talking about in John 10:1-18:
“Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.’ This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hired hand and not a shepherd, who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees, and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep. 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. For this reason the Father loves me, because I lay down my life that I may take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.’”
The sheep in England knew the sound of the shepherd’s voice just as we are to know the voice of Jesus.
When Jesus describes himself as “the door” of the sheepfold, he is painting a picture of being both provider and protector. We sheep tend to pay attention to only what we are grazing on, but the Shepherd knows us, what we need, and what is beyond the gate that could harm us.
We need not budge, but graze in peace, until we hear His voice – for He is the Good Shepherd.