A number of years ago, I had the opportunity to travel to New Zealand. One of my many memories of that beautiful country was the number of sheep that roamed the countryside. When preparing for my trip, I read one statistic that sheep outnumbered the human population by about ten sheep for every one person living on these islands.
Seeing that sheep played such a big part in the landscape and the economy, it came as no surprise when one of our tours included a visit to a sheep farm. Here, we were entertained by the sheep-herding skills of the dogs, and later, a shepherd demonstrated his sheep-shearing skills.
The tour guide, who explained what was happening while we watched the sheep being led in to have her fleece shorn, mentioned a hero sheep named Shrek. that had recently become the object of several news and children's stories. Apparently, Shrek had strayed away from his flock and went missing in 1998. In 2004, the rambling ram was found in a mountain cave after six years of wandering on his own. By now, Shrek was three times his normal size and yielded almost sixty pounds of merino wool.
The ewe that was being sheared on the day of my visit weighed more than the man who was shearing her (probably about 160 pounds or 73 kg). Yet, the ewe didn't struggle to escape. Instead, she just yielded to the process and waited in silence until the work was complete.
The memory of this fascinating farm visit was brought back to my mind when I was reading my Bible during the days prior to Easter.
Isaiah 53:7 – He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. (NIV)
This Scripture is a prophecy about Jesus.
Mark 14:60-61a – Then the high priest stood up before them and asked Jesus, "Are you not going to answer? What is this testimony that these men are bringing against you?" But Jesus remained silent and gave no answer. (NIV)
Jesus didn't try to escape from the agony and shame that faced Him when He was led to the cross. Instead, He went willingly, silently, with no verbal retorts to those who mocked and jeered while evil men nailed His hands and feet to a crude, wooden cross. Jesus, the Son of the almighty God, sacrificed all that He had — His very life — for us. He took our place to provide a means for each one of us to be forgiven and have a restored relationship with God.
Prayer: Dear God, how humbled we are today as we recall the scenes of Your unjust trial and death on the hill called Mount Calvary. Thank You, thank You, for loving us enough to take our place and to pay the debt for our sin. Remind us once again that there is no greater love than the love of the One Who lays down His life so that we might be redeemed. Amen.
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Listen while you read: "O Sacred Head Sore Wounded" (Lyrics)