Shrek the sheep belonged to a shepherd in New Zealand. He became famous in 2004 when he was found after hiding out in caves for six years. During all that time his fleece grew and grew and grew some more. Typically, sheep are shaved once a year. But not Shrek. He was hiding, staying away from the shepherd, struggling through on his own. He was found in April of 2004, and a few weeks later was shorn by a professional sheep shearer in about twenty minutes, and the shearing was broadcast on national television in New Zealand. His fleece weighed sixty pounds and contained enough wool to make suits for twenty men. Most sheep have a fleece weighing just under ten pounds. For all those years, Shrek carried that ever increasing weight around with him, and that weight got bigger and heavier and filthier each and every day. Simply because he ran away and stayed away from his shepherd.

Shrek the sheep belonged to a shepherd in New Zealand. He became famous in 2004 when he was found after hiding out in caves for six years. During all that time his fleece grew and grew and grew some more. Typically, sheep are shaved once a year. But not Shrek. He was hiding, staying away from the shepherd, struggling through on his own. He was found in April of 2004, and a few weeks later was shorn by a professional sheep shearer in about twenty minutes, and the shearing was broadcast on national television in New Zealand. His fleece weighed sixty pounds and contained enough wool to make suits for twenty men. Most sheep have a fleece weighing just under ten pounds. For all those years, Shrek carried that ever increasing weight around with him, and that weight got bigger and heavier and filthier each and every day. Simply because he ran away and stayed away from his shepherd.


I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep…I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:11, 14-15)


We know that Jesus is the Good Shepherd and we, His followers, are His Sheep. We know that He willingly laid down His life to pay the penalty for all sins. We should know and understand without a doubt that our Shepherd loves us, cares for us, and wants only the best for us.


So then why do we act like Shrek the sheep? We do, you know. What Shrek the sheep did is like a person who is a follower of Jesus but wanders away from Him. We tell ourselves we don’t need Jesus watching over us all the time. We want to do things our own way. We listen to the lies that tell us Jesus is too controlling or His rules are too restrictive. We try to live outside His watchful eye. And that is where we get ourselves into all those messes that we get ourselves into – when we run away from our Good Shepherd.


Another consequence of staying away from the Shepherd is that we accumulate extra weight—a weight we don’t have to bear—the weight of our sin. Just like that sixty extra pounds Shrek carried, when we run away and stay away from the shepherd, we carry around the dirty, filthy, heavy burden of our sin. Shrek had his burden removed when he returned to his shepherd. The same can happen for you and me.


We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)


Jesus has already paid the debt for us. It was laid on Him. He bore the burden of our sin so that we would not have to carry it around. Christ can lift any burden you carry, if only you stop hiding and running away from Him. He can shave off your ‘fleece,’ your self-imposed burdens.


"Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30)


God wants to do that for you. In fact, He wants to do that for everyone. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you have done or how long you have been away from Him. If you want to be unburdened, stay close to your Good Shepherd.


Rev. Michael Mattil is pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Denison.