Announcements are big things in our lives. There are many things in life we announce from a new job to having children. The more significant the announcement the more important it is to think through who gets notified first. Have you ever wondered why the first people to know of the birth of Jesus were the shepherds?
We launched our Christmas series, “What Child is This?” this past Sunday. It is a series that will allow us to take a little different look at the Christmas account. We will be focusing on the main individuals over the weeks leading to Christmas. This year we will be asking ourselves, “So Why Shepherds? Or for that matter why the Wisemen, Mary or Joseph? I have often asked myself this question and this year decided to do a little digging. What I found in my studies was incredibly encouraging.
The significance of the Shepherds is not normally easily recognized as it is actually based upon several significant truths. The first is that God himself takes on the description of being a shepherd. Let me highlight a few examples. He speaks prophetically through Isaiah about his care for His people after they have been chastised for their disobedience using the picture of a shepherd. “Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him. He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40:10). It is also a description used of God by His people. Jacob makes this statement on his death bed when blessing Joseph. “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day,” (Genesis 48:15).
It is also important to recognize that the infant child would describe Himself as the “Good Shepherd.” Other New Testament writers would describe him as the “Great Shepherd” and “Chief Shepherd.” These descriptions not only remind us of his rank above all others, but also of His care and commitment to His followers. And this is one of the most powerful insights. The more you dig into shepherding the more you learn that the sheep are dependent on the shepherd for provisions, protection, care and even correction. This is one of the most powerful illustrations of our relationship with God. It also challenges us to trust the Lord, the good shepherd, to watch over and care for us in every area of life. The forefather of Jesus, King David, was not only a shepherd but also a son of a shepherd. He wrote these well-known words in Psalm 23 about our special relationship with God that begin with “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.” (Psalm 23:1)
The Lord chose not to announce the birth of the Messiah in any grand ways that the birth of an earthly King might be announced. He chose instead to reveal the most important birth to a group of common men that illustrated His nature and care for His people.
-Pastor Joe Parkinson