As we approach celebrating the earthly birth of our Savior, I want to challenge us by looking at a group of men in the Christmas story—the shepherds.
Shepherds were quietly doing their lowly jobs.
Luke 2:8: “And in the same region there were some shepherds staying out in the fields and keeping watch over their fields by night.”
The role of a shepherd was a tough one!
- The shepherds were considered outcasts.
- The shepherds lived with their flock in the fields for six to eight months a year.
- Sheep are not smart so they learn the voices of the shepherds.
- The shepherds led them to food and water.
- The shepherds led them away from danger.
- The shepherds kept predators from attacking the sheep.
- At night, the shepherds got the sheep into the pen and lay across the entrance to keep the sheep inside and the predators outside the pen.
Our Lord used the shepherd analogy in some of my favorite verses: John 10:7-9, 11, 14.
- “So Jesus said to them again, ‘Truly, truly I say to you, I am the door of the sheep.All those who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them.I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he will be saved, and will go in and out and find pasture.’”
- “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep.”
- “I am the good shepherd, and I know My own and My own know me.”
The shepherds were doing their job that night. They could have been looking at the sky and wondering:
- Does God know I exist?
- Why is God not using me? After all, I can see the people who serve God daily down in the city.
Or maybe they were thinking:
- Even though I cannot go to the Temple until I am ceremonially clean, I can still pray to God.
- Even though I cannot go to the Temple, I can still praise God.
We do not know who these shepherds were. They were just men doing their job. They were ordinary men like you and me. But…
The Lord had the angel (Gabriel) announce to them the greatest news in history!
Luke 2: 9-14: “And an angel of the Lord suddenly stood near them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them; and they were terribly frightened. And so the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy which will be for all the people, for today in the City of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find the baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manager’. And suddenly there appeared with the angel a multitude of the heavenly army of angels praising God and saying: ‘Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among people with whom He is pleased.’”
This was the long-awaited Savior of the world.
God chose to make the announcement, the greatest announcement that ever has been made in the history of the world, to the lowest of the low, the humblest of the humble.
The shepherds certainly knew then that God knew who they were and that He definitely wanted to use them!
We know the shepherds were godly. How? Because they did not question who the angels were talking about—they understood right away, and the angel did not have to tell them to go see the baby and then spread the news—because He knew they would.
We need to emulate the actions of the shepherds.
Luke 2:15-20: “When the angels had departed from them into heaven, the shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem, then, and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.’ And they came in a hurry and found their way to Mary and Joseph, and the baby as He lay in the manager. When they had seen Him, they made known the statement which had been told them about the Child. And all who heard it were amazed about the things which were told them by the shepherds. But Mary treasured all these things, pondering them in her heart. And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.”
What did they do?
- They went to be with the Lord
- They praised God for what He had done—sending us a Savior
- They told the people what they had heard and seen
- Then, they went back to their sheep!
This Christmas season, let us do the same:
- Go to our Lord
- Praise Him for all He has done for us
- Tell everyone what the Lord has done for us
- Then, go back to our families and jobs!
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy for all people, for today, in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” God knows who we are, too. We have been given that same message, and He wants to use each of us as well!
(All Scripture referenced is from the NASB.)