I thought I might do a little something, this year, that would help me focus on what this season is really about, and maybe it could help you, too. I’m going to take the story of Jesus’s birth, found in Luke 2, and go verse by verse, 1 through 24, to see what happens. Here we go…
And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. ~ Luke 2:8 NIV
I have one left in my nativity scene (its cast of characters quickly dwindling, victims of little hands), and he looks like a nice enough guy. He holds a little lamb, so how bad could he be? Plus, his face is nice and clean, and his robe looks professionally laundered.
So, basically, he’s a lie.
If my little creche were realistic, he would be filthy. There would be a stench coming off of him that would not be in keeping with the smells of Christmas, and Mary and Joseph might have a thinly veiled look of horror at his approach, their sweet newborn clutched tightly to his mother’s chest instead of laying peacefully in the manger under their adoring gaze.
Because shepherds were one tiny step above lepers in Jewish society.
Not only were they physically unclean, they were ritually unclean, as well, having to be in constant contact with feces, insects and blood. They were also commonly considered thieves, as, overworked and underpaid, many a lamb would mysteriously go missing right at the time the shepherd would find himself with a little extra coin in his pouch. Yet, out of the entire number of verses in the story of Christ’s birth, the shepherds have the biggest number. They would be the very first to hear of the Savior whose coming had been foretold.
You know, that might be odd if those shepherds weren’t representatives of a really filthy human race, covered in the stench of sin. It might seem ridiculous, if they weren’t exactly like us, going about our business in the dark, in desperate need of Light.
Yeah, our dirty, nasty, ol’ counterparts, the shepherds, getting the first scoop on the birth of the Lamb would be downright ludicrous if it wasn’t so perfect.
Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12 ESV
Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” ~ Revelation 5:11-12 ESV
I love these advent lessons!! From the moment Jesus was born it was made clear that His Amazing Grace and Love was/is for us all!!