Summary: Lessons we can learn from the Shepherds of Bethlehem.
--ILL>Without question, the funniest thing I ever saw on television was years ago on an episode of “Candid Camera,” where Allen Funt and the Candid crew pulled a colossal hoax on some of the smartest and groomed for success college students in America. Having put together a supposed aptitude and career assessment survey that was taken by several hundred students at one of America’s Ivy League schools, the students were called in to have their results interpreted for them by an “expert,” but of course the “expert” was actually Allen Funt posing as the expert. A group of four young men were brought in to hear their results. They were the cream of the crop in American undergraduates...future Senators, Presidents, brain surgeons, etc. They were being groomed to be world class leaders, and were well on their way there. Allen Funt began by really building them up: “Gentlemen, I’m honored to be in your presence. You truly excelled in this aptitude survey.” The young men were looking quite self-pleased, and were excitedly anticipating what else they were about to hear from the “expert.” Funt continued, “Gentlemen, out of all those who took this survey, you scored way above all the rest...” (The young men were becoming noticeably excited about what they were hearing), and then came the kicker... “Gentlemen, you above all the others who have taken the survey have shown a remarkable aptitude for becoming...” (The men were moving to the edge of their seats. They were waiting to hear “C.E.O.s” or “Astronauts,” or “Ambassadors, Congressmen, or Scientists.” Instead, Funt finished his sentence, declaring them to be most qualified to become... “Shepherds!” -- The reaction was hilarious: at first the guys weren’t sure they had heard the “expert” right. “Shepherds?,” they asked. “Did you say shepherds?” One of them asked, “Are there still people doing that stuff?” Another said, “I hate being around animals!” Another responded, “I’m allergic to wool!” Ultimately they figured out that something wasn’t quite right, and Funt had them look into the hidden camera and encouraged them to “Smile! You’re on Candid Camera!”
--The truth is that shepherds are not held in very high esteem in our country. We’re not familiar with them at all, but our view of them is that for the most part they are guys who are uneducated, unsophisticated, and are probably pretty dirty, even stinky most of the time.
--The same low regard was also the view of the first century population.
--Shepherds were not accepted in “respectable” circles.
--Boys who really were on a path to success back then never set out to become shepherds.
<>But God’s thoughts are not our thoughts.
---It’s interesting to note that all through the Bible the lowly, the unpopular folks are deemed special to God.
--->The first to see Jesus after His resurrection was Mary Magdalene, a woman with a notorious past, someone shunned by the high society crowd of that day.
--->Likewise, other than Mary and Joseph, the first people to see the baby Jesus were the unsophisticated, uneducated, and society-shunned shepherds of Bethlehem.
<>While the world slept on that silent night, the Shepherds’ lives were forever changed, and their night was anything but silent.
--I invite you to open a Bible and turn again to Luke, chapter 2.
<>Although shunned by society, the shepherds of Bethlehem were actually a very special group of men.
---->History tells us the sheep used for sacrifices in the temple at Jerusalem were provided by shepherds around Jerusalem, most notably the shepherds of Bethlehem.
---->They were diligent workers, even working into the night to watch and protect their “investment.”
<>But one night their lives were changed forever.
---->They were greeted by angels, messengers from heaven, who interrupted their otherwise silent night.
---->And what they were told of a new Lamb who had been born stirred their hearts so much they decided to check it out.
<>They came quickly to a venue they were very familiar with ... a stable.
---->And with the information given to them by the angels they knew how to identify this special Lamb:
--------He’d be lying in the feeding trough.
--------And he’d be wrapped in strips of cloth by his poor mother and earthly father.
<>Today, as we move closer to the celebration of Christmas, I want us to learn from the shepherds of Bethlehem, who provide us with a model to follow, through their actions, what they perceived, and what they said.
---->We need to emulate what they did in how we handle Christmas.
THIS CHRISTMAS WE SHOULD DO WHAT THE SHEPHERDS DID...
1) THEY FOCUSED ON THE GIFT.
--<>Their focus was where our should be also...on Jesus!
------Luke 2:15 -- “The shepherds began saying to one another, ‘Let us go straight to Bethlehem then, and see this thing that has happened which the Lord has made known to us.’”