A New Shepherd

by Joanna Echols

Molly shook as the mean shepherd tugged her away from the flock.

“Baaa!” Molly said. But the other sheep couldn’t help her.

“You have a new owner now,” the shepherd said. “Some man just paid a high price for you.”

Molly couldn’t understand the shepherd’s words, but she knew he didn’t like her. He tossed her rope to a man wearing a brown robe.  Molly shook as she looked up at the man.

What will he do to me? she thought. He smiled, stroked her head and spoke quietly. Then he put her on his shoulders.

The new shepherd took Molly to his sheepfold. She saw dozens of strange sheep inside the high stone walls.

Their fluffy wool looked white as snow, but hers was dirty and full of thorns.

I’ll never look like them, Molly thought. The shepherd will send me away.

Just then the shepherd set her down beside a large rock. He sat on the rock and lifted his rod. Molly ducked.

He’s going to hit me! she thought. But the shepherd began to open Molly’s fleece with his rod and pull out thorns. It hurt, but not as much as when Molly had tried to pull out the thorns with her mouth.

Why is he helping? she wondered.

Next, the shepherd splashed Molly with water and scrubbed her fleece. He washed her until, when she turned her head, her back looked as white as the other sheep.

Molly wiggled with excitement and sprayed the shepherd with drops from her wet wool. She froze.

Why didn’t I think before I shook? she thought. I’m in trouble now! But the shepherd just laughed and wiped droplets from his beard.

What kind of shepherd is this? Molly wondered.

When night came, the shepherd touched each sheep with his staff to count them. He counted Molly, too. Then he lay down by the door to the sheepfold.

My old shepherd never counted us, Molly thought. And he never stayed with us at night. This shepherd is different.

A wolf howled nearby. Molly shivered until she remembered her new shepherd stayed at the gate to keep them safe.

He must be a good shepherd, Molly thought.

Your Shepherd
Shepherds and sheep can still be found in Middle Eastern countries like Israel.

A good shepherd makes sure his sheep have enough grass to eat, even when it is hard to find. Since rushing water scares sheep, the shepherd leads them to still water to drink. He puts special oil on their heads to keep pesky flies away.

In the summer, the shepherd leads his flock through dark valleys up to high pastures of sweet grass. He protects them from their enemies.

When a sheep falls onto its back, it cannot get up by itself. But a good shepherd counts his sheep each day. If even one is missing, he hurries to find it and put it on its feet again.

Just like sheep, we need someone to help, comfort and protect us. In John 10:11, Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” Jesus paid the high price of His life for us. He rescues us from the mean master, Satan.

Jesus also cleans us from our sin and makes us white as snow. He cares for us like a good shepherd cares for his sheep.

Read Psalm 23. How can you follow Jesus, your Shepherd?

This article originally appeared in the February 2009 issue of Focus on the Family Clubhouse Jr. magazine. Copyright © 2009 Focus on the Family. Used by permission. Illustration © Jim Madsen.