Shepherds, in spite of their low standing in society in New Testament times, play a significant role in Scripture. Abel was one. So were the patriarchs. And King David. There were parables told about them. Jesus declares Himself to be the Good Shepherd. The most famous psalm calls the Lord a shepherd and the metaphor is applied to New Testament pastors. So it’s no accident that the announcement of Christ’s birth was made to shepherds, and I think we can learn a lot from them.
They were in the middle of their regular routine when God spoke.
Sometimes God chooses the most mundane moments to do amazing things. In the middle of the regular – our jobs, our family time, our worship services, our devotions – know that God may speak the extraordinary.
And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Luke 2:9
They had a deep reverence for God, His glory, and His holiness. That fact may have figured into God’s choice of giving them the announcement. We need to maintain that same reverence for God. The relationship He draws us into doesn’t erase the fact that He is utterly different from us.
So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. Luke 2:15-16
The shepherds understood the angel’s message was a call to action, immediate action. They didn’t wait until morning, until the weekend, until their schedules cleared, until a less busy season. They immediately followed up on the angel’s message. We have been given a message perhaps even more wondrous than the one given to the shepherds. The Savior has not only been born, He has accomplished our redemption. Salvation has come. The time to act on that is now. Right now.
Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. Luke 2:17
The shepherds had seen the Christ, and they told everybody. Whether people believed them or not, everyone knew the shepherds had seen the Messiah. Do others know first and foremost that we’ve seen the Messiah, that peace with God is possible, that deliverance from the penalties from sin has been accomplished? Have we made that widely known?
Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them. Luke 2:20
They couldn’t go back to life as usual after their encounter with the Christ. Instead, their lives were marked by worship and praise for the experience, for the message and for the reality that God has become flesh and dwelled among them. Usually, after Christmas, we settle into the long, cold gray days of January emotionally, mentally and spiritually. But we don’t have to. We can return, praising and glorifying God for all the things we have seen and heard.
None of the shepherds are named. While guys like Peter and John and Paul get lots of attention, and deservedly so, so much of the kingdom work is done by regular people who encountered Jesus, discovered everything they’d heard about Him was true and they were changed forever. Thank God for shepherds. What can I do to be more like them?
(A very merry Christmas to you and yours. Thank you for everything! You bless me and encourage me more than you know. I’ll be back after the first of the year. Shalom!)