While Shepherds Watched.
“I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people.” – Luke 2:10
At the time of the birth of Jesus the Messiah, in the city of David, the angel appeared to shepherds living in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night.
Although these shepherds would appear as it were ordinary herdsmen.
There is more to be observed when we consider why it was shepherds that were chosen.
The tasks of near eastern shepherds were known to be - watch for enemies trying to attack the sheep, defend the sheep from attackers, heal the wounded and sick sheep, find and save lost and trapped sheep to love them, sharing in the lives of the sheep and so earning their trust.
Throughout scripture, we find references to "shepherds" as being overseers, caretakers of God’s house and people. Jesus himself uses the metaphor in several instances. To describe himself he says, “I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine.” (John 10:14). To describe care for his people Jesus says, “But when he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. (Matthew 9:36).
The news of Jesus’s birth was proclaimed by angels to shepherds and a sign was given to them regarding the attributes of his birth.
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord. And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” – Luke 2:11-12
After the angels had left them these faithful messengers, the shepherds, hurried off and found Mary and Joseph and the baby who was lying in a manger. Scripture says and when they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child and all who heard were amazed at what the shepherds said (Luke 2:15-18).
Now these shepherds who were watching by night have turned into witnesses and messengers. Found in a position of their faithful service to their work and at the right time, out of all the people in the city of David, these shepherds are gifted with the first-hand opportunity of experiencing the joy of the birth of the Messiah including the blessing of praise and worship by a great cloud of the heavenly host singing:
“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.” – Luke 2:14
Are you a good shepherd?
Now that you and I have a true testimony about Jesus, as witnessed through the scriptures and by the Holy Spirit, like good shepherds, are we passing on as first importance that which we have received with hearts that long to see the salvation of others?
Are we spreading this good news of the gospel first proclaimed to men by angels?
Telling others about how Jesus died for our sins, was buried and on the third was raised to life.
Are we encouraging others to watch and wait with us for Jesus’ second return?
In Paul’s farewell to the Ephesian elders in the book of Acts 20, we find these words of caution;
“For I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God. Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock. Also from among yourselves men will rise up, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after themselves. Therefore watch, and remember that for three years I did not cease to warn everyone night and day with tears.” - Acts 20: 27-32
Just as it was at the birth of Jesus, Jesus declares in Mathew 24 that the angels will appear, this time with a loud trumpet call to gather the elect.
“Then two men will be in the field: one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding at the mill: one will be taken and the other left. Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” – Matthew 24:40-44
As the signs of our Lord's return increase, I pray that we will be found to be good, faithful and wise servants. Just like the shepherds – to be watching our flock by night. The Lord put them in charge of many possessions when he made them first witnesses to the birth of Christ.
To the unfaithful servant Jesus says in Matthew 24:51, the master “will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”
Let us be found watching for no one knows the day or hour of the master’s return.
Blessings to you and your family this Christmas.
Written and Published by GoodNews Paper for November 2020