The Shepherds and My Shepherd
It might be a stretch of a question to even attempt an answer at but let’s give it a shot. If you were God, and could announce the arrival of the Saviour on that night in Bethlehem, would you send your message to shepherds? To refresh your memory you may want to read Luke 2:1-14.
Would you send your messengers to some common shepherds out in the fields working the night shift? It seems like a colossal waste of time. Why not send your message to the religious leaders in Jerusalem of the day? That would get their attention in a hurry. Why not send your messengers to Crazy King Herod? That would put him in his place quickly. Why not send it right to the top … to Caesar in Rome? That would blow the doors off the world of that day. It might have, some would think, changed everything.
But no, the message went to SHEPHERDS. These are common everyday labourers; rough necks; hard working union men. Imagine today the messengers being dispatched to factory workers; road crews; construction workers; auto mechanics? These were blue-collar employees. They worked with animals, they slept on the ground and they smelled like sheep. Why shepherds? Why Bethlehem, that out of the way little hamlet that didn’t even have a hotel room that night?
Well, the answer to the second question is easier to answer. Why Bethlehem? Because God said the Saviour would be born in Bethlehem. In Micah 5:2 we read “But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days.”
Why Shepherds? I think the answer is found by considering two shepherds (separated by a thousand years) and one comforting truth.
The first shepherd is David. We know from the book of 1 Samuel that David’s occupation in Bethlehem was shepherding the family flock. David became king of Israel and we read in Psalm 78:72 of David “With upright heart he shepherded them and guided them with his skillful hand.” At his best David was the shepherd/king of Israel. He cared for the people, provided for them, guided them and protected them. That is David the shepherd/king of Israel.
Fast-forward nearly a thousand years, to Bethlehem on that silent night so long ago when the “King of Kings” was born of Mary and laid in that manger. Here we have Jesus, the ultimate Shepherd/King. Here we see the one of the “house and lineage of David.” Jesus … Great David’s Greater son came to be the Good Shepherd. John 10 tells us that the Good shepherd … Knows His sheep … Protects His sheep … will not forsake his sheep … and will never let them go. But most importantly … the Good Shepherd lays down his life for his sheep.
So consider this … this Christmas season – On the night when Jesus’ earthly life began in this world. A process began … leading to the day when he would die on the cross … lay down his life for our sins … that’s what a true good shepherd does.
Now as we head into 2017 at CBC … Let us take heed to 1 John 3:16 (ESV) 16 By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.
Maybe this is why shepherds were the ones to receive the angelic message that moonlit night in the hills of Bethlehem. To Remind us “26 For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. 27 But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; 28 God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, 29 so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 30 And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, 31 so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1)
This may grant us some insight for our text this Sunday. A very familiar text that begins with the words: “The Lord is My Shepherd …”
See You Sunday,