That night some shepherds were in the fields outside the village, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terribly frightened, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news of great joy for everyone! The Savior — yes, the Messiah, the Lord — has been born tonight in Bethlehem, the city of David! And this is how you will recognize Him: You will find a Baby lying in a manger, wrapped snugly in strips of cloth!” Suddenly, the angel was joined by a vast host of others — the armies of heaven — praising God: “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and peace on earth to all whom God favors.”
When the angels had returned to heaven, the shepherds said to each other, “Come on, let’s go to Bethlehem! Let’s see this wonderful thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” They ran to the village and found Mary and Joseph. And there was the baby, lying in the manger. Then the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this Child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished… (Luke 2:8-18 NLT)
Can you picture it? Some shepherds were out in the field one night, doing what shepherds do. When they got ready for work that morning, they weren’t expecting anything unusual. They had a job to do, much like each one of us has a job to do each day, whether we work outside the home or not. I imagine they woke up just like they did everyday, and made sure they had enough food, and enough clothing to keep them from getting cold, when the chill of the night set in.
When they got to work that day, they counted their sheep, to make sure that they were all there. If one sheep was missing that day, its shepherd would have gone to find it and bring it back to the rest of the flock. The shepherds guarded their flocks at night, protecting their sheep from the attacks of wolves and lions and other predators. Sometimes theirs was a tedious, thankless job, but it was how they made a living, and so they stuck to their job. Thus, while others were at home sleeping on that night so long ago, the shepherds were awake, in the fields, protecting their sheep.
Don’t you find it interesting that the first ones to receive the birth announcement of Messiah were the shepherds? Have you ever really thought about it? Just think about the awesomeness of this… The first ones to be informed of the Good Shepherd‘s birth were shepherds. Did you catch that? I’ll say it again… The first ones to be informed of the Good Shepherd’s arrival were the shepherds.
There is something so profound in this… What do shepherds do? They protect their flock. What did Jesus come to do? He came to protect His flock. “I am the Good Shepherd. The Good Shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.” (John 10:11 NLT)
What do shepherds do when one of their sheep wanders away? They go and search for that sheep until they find it, then bring it back home to safety. What did Jesus say He came to do? “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10 NKJV)
The shepherds have a personal relationship with their sheep. Messiah came to have a personal relationship with us. For a shepherd enters through the gate. The gatekeeper opens the gate for Him, and the sheep hear His voice and come to Him. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. After He has gathered His own flock, He walks ahead of them, and they follow Him because they recognize His voice. They won’t follow a stranger; they will run from him because they don’t recognize his voice.” (John 10:2-5 NLT)
Don’t you find it utterly important that God sent the angels to reveal Messiah’s advent, the coming of the Good Shepherd, to the shepherds watching their flocks that night?
Cheryl A. Showers
All seated on the ground,
The angel of the Lord came down,
And glory shone around.
Had seized their troubled mind,
“Glad tidings of great joy I bring
To you and all mankind.”
Is born of David’s line
The Savior who is Christ the Lord,
And this shall be the sign:
To human view displayed,
All meanly wrapped in swathing bands,
And in a manger laid.
Appeared a shining throng
Of angels praising God and thus
Addressed their joyful song:
And on the earth be peace,
Goodwill henceforth from heaven to men
Begin and never cease.”
(Nahum Tate (1652-1715), ca. 1700)
- GOD’S PROMISE – JESUS CHRIST – Worshipped by Shepherds (ptl2010.com)
- Songs of Christmas – Day 2 (steakandabible.com)
- Shepherds Were the First (staciemorrell.wordpress.com)
- Advent Calendar: Day Thirteen (fikahome.com)