Monday, December 16, 2013

Christmas Question #2: Why Shepherds?

These little egg-shaped figures roll over easily but the detail is amazing.
If you’d been the angel God handpicked to announce Jesus’ birth, where would you have gone? Certainly, you would’ve been warned about King Herod, but, after him, the sky’s the limit, so to speak.

Of course, there was a synagogue in Bethlehem so you could’ve barged in there, quoted Isaiah’s prophesy, and then yelled, “What do you know, Isaiah was right! Come and see!”

 Surely, there were some of David’s proud descendants in the better part of town. You could’ve appeared in their bedrooms in the middle of the night and proclaimed, “The promised King is here, just down the street in a stable.” 

After they hauled you away in the first-century version of a strait jacket, your work for the night would be done.

Actually, any of those would’ve made more sense than the truth:

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them…Luke 2:8


To understand how ridiculous this is, consider the status of shepherds in Judah.

They were unclean in the full sense of the word. They couldn’t participate in any of the purification rituals.

They routinely handled dirty sheep and even buried dead ones, when necessary.

They wouldn’t be allowed on the temple grounds, not even in the outer courtyard with gentiles and women.

They were filthy and smelly. To be even grosser, they probably had sheep poop on their sandals.

And yet, this is where God sent the angels to herald the birth of the King of Kings, His only Son.

Glorious angels, surrounded in glorious light, sang about joy and peace. They told the shepherds to hurry to Bethlehem and see.

But the angel said to them, "Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Luke 2:11-12

The rabbis in the synagogue would've had thrown the angels out and the descendants of David would've had them committed. But the unclean shepherds heard the angels, believed them, and hurried to see the miracle.

With this act, God proclaimed his mission: To save the unclean, the sinners—US!

He didn’t come for the self-righteous; they wouldn’t be caught dead worshiping a baby in a manger.

He didn’t come to the proud; after all, what would their neighbors think if they were seen hanging around a stable?

Jesus came for the shepherds of the world; those who need a Savior.

How do you rejoice in the coming of your Savior?
Have you realized that you need a Savior?


  1. Can't wait to be with Jesus in Heaven forever and to get to see Him face to face. You taught me something new...I never they couldn’t participate in any of the purification rituals:(

    1. I learned that too. They'd have to come to the temple for a several day ritual. They'd have to do that almost continually because of the kind of work they did.
      Thanks for stopping by!.

  2. Lovely post, and I didn't know about the ritual either. Enjoyed this immensely. Thanks, Sherry.

    1. I'm glad you enjoyed my whimsical thoughts. Now, I wonder why the 3 kings came all the way from the east when none of the ones closer seemed to be invited.