Posted by: Jeff Warren | December 14, 2009

A Savior for the Least and Lowest

At the heart of this wonderful passage in Luke 2 is God’s not-so-subtle announcement of His Arrival to a group of shepherds.  It is possible to miss the significance of the shepherds.  Behind the scenes of this story is a God who comes to the lowly, the broken, the sinful, those who didn’t make the cut, who were left out, and forgotten.  To understand just how wonderful it is, we must first understand who 1st Century shepherds were.

Shepherds were among the lowliest class of people in all of Palestine.  It was a low paying job because it didn’t take a whole lot to do it.  You watched sheep all day and all night.  So lowly, most adults didn’t want to do it and so simple a child could do it.  In fact, it was often a task given over to children.  You may remember another (famous) shepherd boy.  In 1 Samuel 16, Samuel is seeking out the next king of Israel and comes to Jesse, and says, “I’ve checked out all your sons.  Are these all the sons you have?”  Jesse says, “No, there is still the youngest…” (and then he adds rather mater-of-factly), “… but he is out tending sheep.”  It was a job left to the youngest son in the family.

There were two types of shepherds: Those who owned their own sheep and those who watched after someone else’s sheep.  The shepherds in the Christmas story were probably the latter.  In fact, many scholars have surmised that these shepherds were probably watching over the Temple sheep.  The massive numbers of sheep required for sacrifices at the Temple in Jerusalem necessitated that the authorities had their own private sheep flocks.  These shepherds were probably tending sheep that would be offered as sacrifices for the sins of the people at the Temple.  Being a shepherd was a dirty job and you certainly didn’t have time to practice the meticulous hand-washing and ceremonial cleaning demanded by the Law.  As a result shepherds were despised by the good orthodox people of the day.

God comes to shepherds.  What should that tell us about God?  And what should that tell us about how we are to love like Him?  Notice to whom He does not appear- among those giddy with excitement we do not find the so-called “righteous”, the Pharisees, the religious orthodox legalists of the day.  It seems that some of us miss the joy of the Gospel as well.  We want to put a wall around the Gospel.  We often become modern day Pharisees, keeping score on who’s in and who’s out, why we are and why others are not.  The Christmas Message is this: Our God is an inclusive God and He wants us to be like Him.  The Gospel is for everyone who will believe, and especially for the least, the forgotten, and neglected among us.  Capture the redemptive passion of our missionary God this Christmas season.  Run, tell everyone!

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Responses

  1. December 25. Zachariah 23:23–
    In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew [Jesus] by the hem of His robe and say, “Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.

    You are a “10”.


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