Say what? “Stupid sheep?” Now what is she talking about (and no, I have not been into the eggnog!)
May come as no surprise that the term “stupid sheep” was coined as the result of a Carols dress rehearsal incident in 2003 when live sheep showed up as part of the Nativity and a group of very tired Sopranos went from bad to worse in their reaction to that and some other stuff. The story is somewhat legend but I am not going to share all of its particulars out of respect for my friends. Do note it has nothing to do with the “Wandering In The Dark Award” but could be a fit for that as well. That said, the term stuck and we use it to refer to ourselves when we go wandering.
Though God was (and is) far more tactful, His reference to us as sheep fits the bill. Isaiah recognized it: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Is. 53:6). Handel used this scripture in Messiah in the octavo “All We Like Sheep” (note to folks who argue for and against certain worship styles, The Messiah is the ultimate “7-11” music in structure!). In fact, the Bible mentions sheep over 500 times. Sheep are mentioned more often than any other animal in the Bible.
Sheep have to be led around. They are not the smartest animals ever created or that took a ride with Noah on the ark! They get lost. They wander into places they have no business going. They make dumb decisions. They cannot keep their eye on the goal. Could that be why God chose to refer to His people as sheep? The Shepherd is responsible for rounding them up and getting them back on the path. It was not accidental that shepherds were the ones who first heard the Good News of His birth and who worshiped Him at the manger.
Though we know the characteristics of sheep definitely fit us, we also know that perfect lambs – lambs without blemish – were from the beginning of time – used as sacrifices for the sins of mankind.
At http://www.abideinchrist.com/selah/mar17.html, I found this discussion about the sacrificial lamb: “The innocence and gentleness of the sacrificial lamb is featured in descriptions in the Old Testament. As a symbol, the sacrificial lamb prefigured the character and suffering of the Lamb of God (Acts 8:32; Isa. 53:7). Jesus is introduced in the Gospel of John as “the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29, 36; Acts 8:32; 1 Pet. 1:19; Isa. 53:7).” And so He did.
From those flocks in the fields outside Bethlehem that first Christmas night to us as we move (yes – wander at times) through life, God had a plan. He knew Jesus would be born in that manger and He knew that the manger cradle was in the shadow of the cross and that the necessary cycle would not be complete without His resurrection. Any one of these events without the other two are just isolated events in history.
What gets me is that Jesus had choices. I know God had to know that Jesus would make the right choices – the choices that make a difference in eternity but being very human, I wonder at times – what if Jesus had a Cille moment and made a Cille-like decision? Thankfully that did not happen.
So when I laugh and think about “stupid sheep”, I will stop and remember that the One who represented the ultimate in sacrificial lambs was not in that category. Thank goodness for that.
Emmanuel. God with us. I believe.