"And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. And the angel said to them, "Fear not, for I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
I love that.
Who did the Angel of the Lord first announce the birth of the long-awaited Messiah to? The shepherds! Shepherds at the time were looked down upon because of their transience and their work, which sometimes left them ceremonially unclean. How perfectly appropriate. For centuries Jewish people awaited a Messiah that might be a conquering warlord that would free them from the hand of Rome. Instead, God sent his son, a baby born in a manger to humble parents, and announced it first to lowly shepherds out in the fields tending their sheep.
There were certainly many shepherds during biblical times. David, later to become King David, was a young shepherd boy when he slew Goliath. Moses was a shepherd during his forty years in the Midian desert before God spoke to him from a burning bush and sent him to Pharaoh to bring his people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt. But the greatest shepherd of all is, of course, Jesus Christ and I have always loved the image of Christ the Good Shepherd. Sheep are defenseless animals, totally dependent on their shepherd to guide them, protect them day and night and to lead them to food and water ("green pastures and still waters"). Isn't that an apt description of us as humans as we wander our way through the struggles and joys of our earthly existence? What a privilege it is for us as Christians to have God's only son, Jesus Christ, as our shepherd. He speaks to us, and we hear his voice. We await Christ's birth during this Advent period, and we praise God for sending his son to be our Good Shepherd.
- Bill Cooley