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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Learning From the Shepherds


And there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And, lo, the angel of the Lord came upon them, and the glory of the Lord shone round about them: and they were sore afraid. And the angel said unto them, Fear not: for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:8-11).

What a familiar Christmas passage! How wonderful—tidings of great joy to all people!

Why did God first reveal the birth of His Son to shepherds?

I come up with two answers. (I’m sure you will have some ideas, too.)
  1. Since Jesus came for all people, God revealed Himself to normal, working people first. This group of shepherds was representative of all.
  2. God wanted, from the very beginning, to illustrate the relationship of Jesus (the Good Shepherd) with His sheep (us!).


Let’s take these one at a time:
  1. The shepherds are out at night, watching over their flock. These were the blue-collar men of the day, normal guys doing normal jobs. They worked the night shift—and ended up being delighted that they did. God revealed the birth of His Only Son to these very normal, everyday men. Don’t you love that? God cares about the normal person, the people who aren’t royal, aren’t rich, aren’t famous, aren’t “special” the way the world counts special. (Of course, God cares for everyone, the rich, famous, royals and specials, too.) This was a statement of His love for all people.
  2. God announced Jesus’ birth to shepherds. In those days, everyone was familiar with shepherds. Indeed, today, virtually anyone from a rural background—no matter what part of the world you live in—would have some idea of shepherds and sheep. The Shepherd of spiritual sheep is first revealed to shepherds of animals. Jesus said, I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. And, I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine (John 10:11, 14). He also said, I am the door of the sheep (John 10:7). In Luke 15:3-7, Jesus tells a parable about the lost sheep and how there’s rejoicing over the sheep that is found—and sinners who repent. Even in the Old Testament, this same relationship between the sheep and the shepherd is explored. We think of Psalm 23, The Lord is my shepherd . . . . Read this verse about God’s care, He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young (Isaiah 40:11).

The shepherds were told to go to a very familiar place—a stable—to find the Baby.
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us. And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger (Luke 2:15-16).

We can only imagine the impact this visit had on these men! They knew they were seeing the promised Messiah. They knew Jesus was the Lord. They were excited! So much so, that they ceased being shepherds for a while and . . . they made known abroad the saying which was told them concerning this child. And all they that heard it wondered at those things which were told them by the shepherds (Luke 2:17b-18).

Applications for us:
  • Jesus came to everyone, to save everyone.
  • Jesus is the Good Shepherd. We can learn more about Him and His relationship with us by watching shepherds and sheep (or reading about them).
  • Anyone can proclaim Christ.

God bless you!

4 comments:

  1. Great thoughts Lou Ann! I have always loved that in every way God makes known through his word that he chooses the normal, even the rejected, to be his chosen people. Not just the famous, beautiful, or gifted. Thank you for that reminder today. Be blessed!

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    1. Thank you! It is encouraging to me, too! :o)

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  2. I've sometimes wondered why God revealed Himself in such humble means and to such humble people. I agree with and enjoy your thoughts here. I think, too, it would be harder for poor people to feel they could approach Him if He came in riches and splendor. It may be hard for rich people to feel they can approach Him in a poor setting, but all they have to overcome to do so is their pride.

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    1. So true . . . we ALL have to come as little children, simply, and with sincere hearts. It's a blessing we have that privilege!

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