The life of a shepherd wasn't easy. It was a way of living that involved an extensive amount of time and effort. It seems to me that one way to embrace the story of these shepherds is to become one. So reach inside of yourself and put your heart into a shepherd's story...The setting sun is casting shadows across the fields. You sit on the short wall and look down at your feet. They're covered in dust and the evidence of accidentally stepping into fresh sheep feces is still clinging resolutely to your sandles. You've gotten use to the smells that accost the sensitive senses of the priests and villagers. Sometimes you wonder if the shepherd's life is worth being considered the least of Israel, but you love what you do so much. You look out at the sheep and your thoughts turn to the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, to your God. These sheep, your beloved sheep are given as a sacrifice for you and for your people. You look towards Jerusalem as one little lamb, the best of your flock lies down to rest at your feet. Your love for God is greater than your love for the lambs you have carried in your arms and on your shoulders. Your people who look down on you, even as they do upon the dung of sheep upon your feet, are worth more to you. Even though they don't comprehend the depth of feeling you have for these sheep, for the living God, and for them. You roll a rock back and forth under your sandled foot, deep in thought. A psalm rises up within your heart and escapes your lips. You long for the joy of entering the temple, to worship with your people, and to hear the message of God read to you by those who are able read. You know that it isn't acceptable today. A psalm rises up with your heart and escapes your lips,
"Have mercy on me, O God,
according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion
blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity
and cleanse me from my sin." (Psalm 51)
Within seconds the other shepherds begin to sing along. It's a moment of sincere prayerful song, a hope of God accepting you as He had done His servant David. David was a shepherd boy, who became king, a man after God's own heart. He too was looked down on by his brother's, the least of them all. Yet, he was approved by God. You feel lighter somehow, "God is truly good!" Just thinking of David while being so close to Bethlehem inevitably brings your thoughts to the Messiah, the promise of a future and a hope for God's people.
As darkness descends you become more alert and watchful. You're on guard in the night, protecting your sheep is your uppermost thought. They mean much more to you than a few coins in your hand or a good meal, you love them. You've given each one a name and each recognizes his own name. They run to you, when you call them. They quickly follow after you, if you begin to walk away. You carry the weak or injured on your shoulders and the little lambs against your chest. If one becomes separated from the fold, you go after that one to find him. You're a good shepherd! You are willing to die for your sheep, even the least of them (blemished) is worth fighting for to you. You've fought off bears and every predatory beast imaginable with your bare hands and a spear. You know that every night predators will come and some will be braver than others, you are always aware, awake and alert. Where those who do not love the sheep would leave them all to save himself, you wouldn't! A good shepherd would never do such a thing! Now that you have the mind of a good shepherd stirring within you...be sure to read the Biblical story of the shepherd's in Luke 2!
It is noteworthy that the good news of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem is delivered to shepherds rather than the religious leaders within Israel. Shepherds were considered the least in society. The most highly regarded among the men of Israel were Pharisees, Saducees, priests, the high priest, and scribes. Those who herded sheep were considered unclean and the religious leaders were considered the righteous. On the surface one would think, God would reveal the fulfillment of the prophecy that the Messiah had come to the spiritual shepherds of the people. The word of God refers to the religious leaders as hired shepherds, they are actually hindering God's own people. They proved to be actually against God later on. The majority of the religious leaders of Israel did not love God and did not love people. They wanted the praise and approval of others rather than be approved by God. So instead He interupts the shepherds night with a glorious and important message, the Savior of Israel had indeed come! The shepherds went straight from the fields to Bethlehem to find Jesus. The word of God indicates that they were seeking to find Him. They believed God and that belief motivated them to seek for the Baby, the Messiah. Scripture indicates that they found Him. They couldn't keep what they had seen and heard quiet! They went throughout Bethlehem telling everybody what God had done! The angels were only a part of the story. They weren't the amazing part of their message. No! The primary point of their message was that the Messiah had come! That He was right there in Bethlehem as Scripture had indicated by the holy prophets of Israel, the seed of David has come. They shared the message that they had received from God by the angels. The glory of the Lord had surrounded them, it wasn't just one shepherd who received the message either, a group of them were all sharing the same message. They were witnesses to the same event, heard the same message, and shared the same with everyone.
So I was reading Luke 2: 8-20 and these good shepherds had an awe inspiring encounter while they were "keeping watch over their flock by night." They were surrounded by the "glory of the Lord" and they heard "good news" from "an angel of the Lord." This messenger from the Lord brought them a gospel "of great joy." These good tidings "will be [given] to ALL PEOPLE." It was the birth of a newborn child, "who is Christ the Lord." They would know this Babe by a sign, which in this case was a description. They would find the baby swaddled (a method of wrapping a child up) and lying in a manger (a feeding trough cut from stone). This wasn't the expected food for livestock, lol. It was an unusual resting place for an infant, but it was the place He was to be found. These shepherds are witnessing a magnificent sight together. They are hearing glorious news as one. After seeing all these things, they even become witnesses to "a multitude of the heavenly host (over a thousand angels) praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men."
These shepherds were surrounded by the glory of the Lord, they heard amazing things. Things that were awaited, that were prophesied about by their ancestors. The coming of the Messiah in Bethlehem! The angel didn't say what city the Messiah was born in. These shepherds would know that by the Scripture given by Moses and the prophets (the Old Testament). Things that were surprising, the Messiah was born in a stall for animals and lying in a feeding trough. They weren't thrown off by this news though, in fact as soon as the angels left them and went up into the heavens they couldn't stay where they were. They said, "Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us." The Scripture indicates that they hurried to Bethlehem and searched for Him. There they found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger. Now they see for their self who and also what the angel of the Lord had described.
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Last modified on Tuesday, 04 September 2018 12:48