Why Shepherds?

Why Shepherds?

Wednesday December 7, 2022


Have you ever asked yourself why God chose shepherds to be the first to know about the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem?  This is the way it happened …


“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, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger. Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 2:8-14)


Why were angels sent to announce the good news of the birth of the greatly desired Messiah to shepherds, the humblest and poorest of the citizens of Israel? Why didn´t they appear to the religious or political leaders of that time, to the ones who knew the prophetic Scriptures regarding the coming of a Savior, to the ones who were interested in the coming of a King to the land of the Jews?  Why to simple shepherds of sheep?

Perhaps because going first to some humble shepherds with the great announcement of the birth of the desired Messiah complemented the fact that He was born in a stable and was laid in a manger, that He came into this world surrounded by poverty and simplicity, by common and every day things. As Paul said in 2 Corinthians 8:9,  “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.”

Perhaps because the shepherds were the vocational descendants of David, the ancient shepherd and king of the people of Israel, the one who was foreshadowing Jesus Himself  – another and greater Shepherd and King of the Jews. As Jesus Himself would later declare during his three years of ministry on earth, “I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd.” (John 10:14-16)

Perhaps because on that holy night in the town of Bethlehem, a Lamb was born – the Biblical figure most consistently used to represent Jesus Christ.  A scholar of the ancient Jewish culture has commented that the herds around Bethlehem were comprised of special sheep, raised specifically to be sacrificed in the Temple in Jerusalem.  Likewise, Jesus, the most special of all lambs, was to be sacrificed so that all of mankind could receive forgiveness and eternal life.  John the Baptist said of Him when he saw the Messiah coming, “… Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) The prophet Isaiah, some 750 years before the birth of Jesus the Messiah, spoke of His sacrificial death on the cross saying, “He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” (Isaiah 53:7)  And in Revelation, the last book of the Bible that speaks of the last days, the author the Apostle John says, “Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand. They encircled the throne and the living creatures and the elders. In a loud voice they were saying: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and praise!” Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power, forever and ever!”  (Revelation 5:11-13)


The story of the shepherds in Bethlehem continues, “When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.” So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger.  When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.  But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.”(Luke 2:15-20)


Dear friend: the eyes of God look throughout all the earth, searching for more “shepherds” – humble and simple men and women; who believe in the incredible but true manifestations of God; who hurry to see and to know Jesus Christ, Lord of the universe, wherever He may be found; who glorify and praise God for all the things they see and hear and witness about Him, from angels in heaven, to a Savior in a manger.  Could it be possible that you and I are in that company?  May it be so.