Shepherds Were the First
Who were the first to learn about and visit the newborn Jesus Christ? Shepherds. In this current era, when the story is so familiar, and shepherds are not well-known to most of the world, this does not seem unusual, but it was. Shepherds were among the lowest on the social ladder. So why did the Lord send an angel to announce the birth of His son to some lowly shepherds?
Romans 2:11 “For God does not show favoritism,”
James 4:6 “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble and oppressed.”
The Lord cares about everyone, no matter who they are or what they have. Rightly so, we wanted the joyous news spread about the birth of his only begotten son. So why didn’t he send a choir of angels to sing at Herod’s palace? Because while the birth of Christ was amazing, it was also a clandestine operation.
Sheep were a primary food and clothing source in biblical times. They were an essential part of everyone’s life and economy.
Job had 14,000 sheep (Job 42:12). King Solomon sacrificed 120,000 sheep for the First Temple’s dedication in 953 B.C. (I Kings 8:63)
The shepherd was hired by the flock’s owner to manage his investment. Sheep were currency on the hoof. The shepherd was responsible for ensuring the growth and health of that wealth. He would chase away predators, tend to wounded individuals, carry lambs through high water when crossing a river, help ewes birth if needed, locating food and water, carry newborn lambs, and find lost sheep that had strayed. The shepherd’s every living moment was with his flock.
“When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee” (Isaiah 43:2).
The shepherd knows each of his flock by sound, by name and by sight. Each night, the shepherd counts or takes a visual inventory, making sure none of his charges have gone missing. The flock knows their shepherd, his call, his voice, his touch. He is everything to them, providing safety, food, and shelter, the essentials of life for every living creature.
“He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young” (Isaiah 40:11).
In reflection, it is no surprise the Lord chose the title of shepherd for himself and His son.
John 10:14-18 “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. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”