The Shepherd’s hook.

Such a simple piece of the traditional nativity scene.  Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, wisemen, shepherds, sheep, camel, cow and manger.  Wisemen carry treasures of gold, frankincense and myrrh. And shepherds have their trusty hook at their side.

It’s always comical to see elementary children in Christmas plays acting out the Christmas story.  Most of the young  shepherd actors have their trusty shepherd’s hook by their side.  We see the children depicting shepherds in the Christmas plays pounding their shepherd’s hook as a walking stick.  Some turn their hook upside down to show the “J” to represent Jesus and twirl it around like a spinning top.  Some use it to aggravate the other shepherds in the play and wrap the hook around their fellow shepherds to draw them back onto the set!

But it made me think a little deeper.  What exactly was that shepherd’s hook used for?  It seems very simple.  It was used to guide the sheep to the proper location and keep them on the path to the neighboring pasture along the journey.  And if a particular sheep wandered off, it was used to hook the sheep and bring it back into the fold.

Jesus tells us in John 10:11, “I am the good shepherd.”  Jesus walks with His sheep daily and guides us with His shepherd’s hook.  He watches us go our way into the next pasture on our journey of life and if we start to get too far away from Him, He uses that hook to gently nudge us back over to His path.  If we get too far off the path, He uses that tool to hook us and pull us back to Him.

Sometimes we bulk at that hook and fight and squirm our way out again.  He is going to continue to place that hook around us and gently bring us back to Him.  But if we keep fighting too much and keep rejecting the shepherd, one day Jesus will give us the choice of our own free will and allow us to leave the fold if that is what we choose.  He will continue to love us and continue to have that hook ready but if we reject Him over and over, the protection of the shepherd is gone and Satan, the wolf, gets closer and closer and begins to devour the sheep.

Don’t let the devil pull you into his pasture.  Stay close to the protection of the shepherd.  And when you realize you have wandered off and feel the nudging of the shepherd’s hook, don’t squirm out of it; follow it back to the almighty Shepherd.

It’s not a prop.  This isn’t a play.  Jesus really did come to this earth as a baby.  Shepherds really did visit Him in a nasty barn being guided by a star and carrying their hook along the way. Jesus really is a shepherd to all who believe.  And the hook really is His loving arms being wrapped around us for protection. Don’t walk away.  Don’t squirm out of the hook because there really is nothing better than being “hooked” by the Shepherd!  I’m hooked.  You hooked?