“Jesus and the Bummer Lamb”–Guest Feature by Jan Spratt

Introduction: Bummer Lamb?

A “bummer lamb” is one that is “orphaned” either because the ewe has died or she has rejected her baby for reasons known only to her. If the lamb is not rescued, it will die.  That’s the literal definition.

My sister Claire was assigned a bummer lamb when she worked for a local sheep rancher years ago. She fed and tended the little thing and it followed her around constantly. In the morning, it hurried near at the sound of her voice. The lamb “knew” my sister as its very own nurturer, protector, helper.

An equivalent condition among human babies is what is called “failure to thrive“. When I worked in the world of international adoption as a “special needs children” coordinator, we placed some failure-to-thrive infants from struggling nations requesting our assistance with “forever (adoptive) families” here in the United States who would consider opening their homes to such little ones. Many did.  

The figurative definition of bummer lamb from The Free Dictionary  includes “a person who is gentle or innocent; a person who is easily cheated…”

There might also be other reasons a person would be a bummer lamb, as it were, other reasons he or she might be neglected, taken advantage of, or abandoned–and at any age or station in life.

The Good Shepherd

This concept has spiritual application as well. Jesus, after all, is described as “the Good Shepherd.” He knows His own and we know Him–whatever condition we are in. He describes Himself in this role thus:

I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep.”

When I set out to find references and commentaries on that scripture for this post, I found a number of instructive, and encouraging essays and sermons on our Good Shepherd. Today’s guest feature is one I found particularly touching.

Following the essay is one of my favorite Reba Rambo songs from the seventies’ that came immediately to mind.  Enjoy and be encouraged by that, too.

And it just so happens today is “Palm Sunday” 2020 on the liturgical calendar–a day that adds another reason to draw near to our Good Shepherd, Who, just a few days after the original Palm Sunday, would fulfill what He promised above, i.e., He would literally “lay down His life” for any and all who draw near His voice in every era, receive Him as Savior and Lord, and enter their new and forever “homeland/pastureland” at the sound of HIS voice…. PBN

Guest Feature:


I first learned about bummer lambs when I heard Sheila Walsh telling her story to Leon Fontaine on his TV show. Sheila grew up in Scotland and her mother did accounting for farmers and shepherds. Sheila saw spring lambs being born and loved being around the ewes and their lambs. Once in awhile a ewe would give birth to a lamb and reject it. She wouldn’t feed it or accept it in any way. These lambs were called, “bummer lambs”.

If the shepherd does not take the lamb it will die of a broken spirit. A good shepherd watching his flock finds the little lamb, takes it into his home, feeds it with a bottle and keeps it warm by the fireplace. Then once in awhile throughout each day, the shepherd carries it in his arms, close to his heart so the little lamb can hear and feel his heart beat.

As the lamb spends time with the shepherd it comes to know him and recognizes his voice. When the lamb is strong enough, the shepherd puts it back in the fold with the other sheep and whenever he goes out and stands on the end of the field and calls “Sheep, sheep, sheep!” the first to come running to him are the bummer lambs.

They know his voice and they run to him as soon as they hear him call. They are not loved more than the other sheep but they believe they are loved by him and they respond to his call. When Sheila was going through a very difficult time in her life continue reading here…



Images from Wikimedia Commons.

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