When reading the Christmas story, it’s impossible to forget that the shepherds are a part of the event. One of my dearest friend’s little was a sheep in his preschool Christmas pageant. Shepherds are mentioned everywhere when it comes to Christmas, but why are they important? And why did the angels appear first to the shepherds watching their flock when announcing the birth of Jesus?
To best understand the significance of the shepherds I had to do some research. Google, my MacArthur Study Bible, and Bible Study Tools helped me find the answer.
Some Shepherd Facts: Shepherds were considered the outcasts of Israel. They also had a reputation for being humble, not easily fooled, honest, practical, hard-workers, and not easily startled. As a result of these traits, shepherds were considered reliable. If they testified that something happened, you could trust that it most certainly had.
So the reliability of the shepherds was important when announcing the birth of the Savior. When they heard, and then saw Him for themselves, they would return and share the good news with everyone with whom they came in contact. Their word was the truth!
Another realization was provided by the shepherds receiving word first. Jesus came to save all of mankind. Not merely the most wealthy and influential. He came even for the hard-working men who lived life with goats under the stars. It doesn’t matter who you are, from where you come, or how much money you have in your checking account. Jesus Christ came to save everyone.
Finally, Jesus would be known as the “Good Shepherd.” Time and again in God’s Word He speaks of Jesus being a Shepherd. We are His sheep. He, like any good shepherd, keeps an eye on His flock. He guides our paths, provides our way to receive nourishment and if one of us strays He will seek to find us.
I find myself looking at shepherds with a new excitement this Christmas. I can only imagine what it was like when the angels shared the good news and then began to worship our Lord. That most certainly was one bright night!
I thank you, Lord, for sending your Son Jesus to earth to die for my sins. Lord thank you for the third day! Thank you for redemption, for freedom from sin, and for the Good Shepherd who so diligently watches over me.