Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death to Deeper Intimacy (Psalm 23:4)
Look at this picture! Notice the sheep looking up at the Shepherd - that is the mother (the ewe) of the lamb he is carrying in his arms. I just heard about an interpretation of this image. I have seen two different depictions of Jesus carrying a sheep - one with it around his neck (see below) and one with it in his arms. I knew of an interpretation of the one around his neck (caring for a lost sheep so that through intimacy with him it would no longer stray) but I never thought about the difference between that image and the one pictured here.
In this image, I am told, that it isn't the lamb that he was trying to save directly but the mother (the ewe) to bring her into a much deeper relationship with him. So, in order to get her undivided attention, and to fire her heart with more urgent longings, he picked up her lamb and carried it where he wanted her to go. And as long as the lamb is in his arms, she will not take her eyes off of the shepherd.
That is exactly what I am experiencing since my son passed away. I continually (24/7) seem to have Jesus on my mind but not him alone; always him with my son in his arms. I was following Jesus before he passed away (with my whole heart... I thought. At least as much as I was capable of at the time) but through this cross, he has drawn me even closer than I ever thought possible. Maybe this has been your experience too.
The scripture that goes with the picture is Isaiah 40:11. Here are some different versions of it:
Like a shepherd, he tends his flock. He gathers the lambs in his arms, carries them close to his heart, and gently leads the mother sheep (International Standard Version).
Like a shepherd he tends his flock; he gathers up the lambs with his arm; he carries them close to his heart; he leads the ewes along (NET Bible).
He will feed his flock like a shepherd,
he will gather the lambs in his arms,
he will carry them in his bosom,
and gently lead those that are with young (RSVCE)
As the mother sheep follows the shepherd more closely and in a deeper understanding of the truth, she is thereby purified of some of her previously held presumptuous convictions and attitudes; this in turn, has an effect on those around her and they (other sheep) follow too along with others that might not have followed previously.