Cast of characters:
Shepherd: played by Jesus
Sheep: played by women and children
Hired Hands: played by pastors and elders and other appointed authority figures
Wolves: played by abusive husbands
Let’s begin our story.
Once upon a time, there were some sheep. Their shepherd had bought and paid for them, and he took good care of them. They were valuable to him.
If they were dorky and got themselves stuck in a rut somewhere, he got them out. If they were thirsty, he led them to water. If they were hungry, he led them to new pastures with fresh grass.
The wolves knew if they got near the sheep when the shepherd was around, it would be slim pickin’s that night.
So the wolves watched and waited for the right time.
The day finally came. The shepherd had to attend a wedding, and he left his flock in the care of a few hired hands.
The sheep were confused. The hired hands sounded different from the shepherd. They used different words. They used sticks, too. They smiled while snarling, causing even greater confusion to the sheep.
Where was the shepherd who loved them?
The hired hands told them THEY were the “new boss in town.” Everything they said was directly ordered from the shepherd, so the sheep better obey or the shepherd would be angry with them when he got back.
The sheep loved their shepherd, and he had never been angry with them before. But what if the hired hands were right? The sheep didn’t want to upset their beloved shepherd.
They must put on their best behavior to please the hired hands, because that would please the shepherd. The hired hands said so. And everyone knows hired hands are smarter than sheep.
Instead of taking them to clear, fresh water from the bubbling streams, the hired hands took them to old, recycled water regurgitated from used cisterns.
Instead of taking them to new grass from moist pastures, the hired hands took them to dusty hills that had already been cleared by other animals.
The sheep grew thin and tired and somewhat sickly, but the hired hands told them “it was through the process of being crushed that the flower would become a perfume.”
And “you little sheepies must die to your desires for clean air, water, and grass because that’s just selfish and unworthy of your shepherd.”
And “your hearts are desperately wicked, and who can know them? Certainly not you. You deserve hellfire. Be grateful for what you’ve got.”
Sigh. Those hired hands were so wise. Who could speak against such humble wisdom? They were the shepherd’s representatives, after all.
So the sheep submitted quietly to the hired hands.
This was the exact cocktail the wolves had been waiting for. One night, they snuck into the yard where the sheep were sleeping in their fold. The wolves whimpered and whined, making such a fuss they caught the attention of the hired hands.
Poor little wofies with no food.
The hired hands considered. If they tried to fight the wolves, they might be attacked themselves and lose their reputation in town, not to mention the potential for future jobs. That would never do.
So they came up with a plan. Why not let the wolves in? Why not let them pick off the weakest sheep slowly, over time, so nobody would notice? I mean, who needs the weak sheep anyway? Survival of the fittest, right?
It was perfect! This way, only the strong, most impressive, most cooperative sheep would live, and the rest would be weeded out. Why, they could even give the rebellious sheep who kept bleating (so annoying) over to the wolves to be “taken care of.” Plus the wolves would never personally attack the hired hands! By golly, it was a fool proof plan!
So that’s what they did.
Any sheep who noticed what was happening had to keep her bleats to herself, or she’d be wolf food that night. Yes, it was best to stay quiet. Pretend the wolves weren’t among them, controlling every thought they had, every step they took, every sound they made.
The wolves would share their kills with the hired hands, and the hired hands grew fat off the blood of the sheep.
So what do you think of my little story? When Jesus told a similar story in John, chapter 10, the hired hands and wolves collectively said:
“He has a demon, and is insane; why listen to him?”
Poor little wofies. They didn’t like their ruse exposed.
But, the end? Seriously? That’s the end?
NO! THAT IS NOT THE END!
Because one day the shepherd came back, and he was more than a little pissed.
When the whirlwind passes, the wicked is no more, But the righteous has an everlasting foundation. Proverbs 10:25
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