Sunday, November 23, 2014

The Sheep And The Goats

It's a good day for a Sunday drive.

The parable about the sheep and goats is in many churches Bible readings this weekend.  I remember that story from childhood and never liked goats but never liked sheep, either.  We were raised on a hog and cattle farm with a few chickens!

"In Matthew 25:31 we hear "When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his throne of glory; 32 and all the nations will be gathered before him and he will separate them from one another, just as the shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will put the sheep on his right hand and the goats on his left."

Ok, question from a newbie farmer: What did Jesus have against goats!? I have acquired 5 sheep and 2 goats this summer, and I've had a blast learning how to take care of them. I have learned that sheep are not "stupid" like I've heard for years, but they are flighty and don't warm up to people very easily. They are also a bit dirty and smelly, though. They are rather fragile and easily injured, too. Now the two goats (Willy and Billy) are much more friendly (more like dogs), warm up to humans much faster, and will even eat out of my hand. They run to me when they hear my voice (so will the sheep though- they DO know their Mistresses voice)! I'm sure in Jesus' day, people "got" the sheep and the goat example, due to their experience with both animals. However, I don't understand why the goats get the bad rap in the parable, either. Can someone tell me what I'm not getting?"

Personally, I always thought that the goats always got the bad half of the deal because the sheep inevitably had to be the good ones (given the amount of religious symbolism associated with sheep and lambs, etc. ) But I looked it up in the Orthodox Study Bible and it says:

"Christ uses sheep to illustrate the righteous, for they follow His voice and are gentle and productive. Goats indicate the unrighteous, for they do not follow the shepherd and they walk among cliffs, which represent sin. "

I guess the cliffs things makes sense because cliffs are where you fall from, and I feel like I've heard several prayers talk about not falling or getting lost among the cliffs. I also found something else online:

"Much has been written about the humbleness of sheep as compared to the stubborn pride of the goat, and no doubt this has much to do with why Jesus chooses to call these people by these names. It does reveal to us, however, that one of the criteria Jesus uses to separate the two groups is by their disposition. Yet, while Christ certainly knows the heart, the Scriptures here and in other places indicate that the means by which Jesus Christ judges is by their works, which reveal their heart's disposition. A tree is known by its fruit, says Christ. St. Cyril also states it thus:

How does the shepherd make the separation? Does he examine out of a book which is a sheep and which a goat? or does he distinguish by their evident marks? Does not the wool show the sheep, and the hairy and rough skin the goat? In like manner, if thou hast been just now cleansed from thy sins, thy deeds shall be henceforth as pure wool; and thy robe shall remain unstained, and thou shall ever say, I have put off my coat, how shall I put it on? By thy vesture shall thou be known for a sheep. But if thou be found hairy, like Esau, who was rough with hair, and wicked in mind, who for food lost his birthright and sold his privilege, thou shall be one of those on the left hand."

When the final inventory is taken, will be with the "sheep" or the "goats??

Ed Winkle

1 comment:

  1. Here's a good comment from a friend down under

    Hi Ed, just read your last blog post. our sunday sermon touched on the simpleness of the calling, food , water, shelter, visiting, welcoming. The calling is not for the big and grand - speaking in tongues, feeding the multitudes, miracles etc.

    just sharing.

    Hooroo for now,