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Summary: Conventional wisdom would say that the best way to proclaim the Messiah’s birth would have been at Herod’s Palace and not in the fileds with the Sheperds

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NR 25-12-05

Luke 2:1-20: The Angels appeared to the Shepherds

Story: A shepherd was looking after his sheep one day on the side of a deserted road, when suddenly a brand new Porsche screeches to a halt.

The driver, a man dressed in an Armani suit, Rockport shoes, Oakleys sunglasses, Rolex watch, and a Versace tie, gets out and asks the shepherd:

"If I can tell you how many sheep you have, will you give me one of them?"

The shepherd looks at the young man, and then looks at the large flock of grazing sheep and replies:” Okay."

The young man parks the car,

connects his laptop to his mobile,

enters a NASA Webster,

scans the ground using his GPS,

opens a database with 60 Excel tables filled with logarithms and pivot tables, and

then prints out a 150-page report on his

high-tech mini-printer.

He turns to the shepherd and says, "You have exactly 1,586 sheep here."

Rather surprised the shepherd replies, "That’s correct, you can have your sheep."

The young man takes an animal and puts it in the back of his Porsche.

Just as the man is about to drive off, the shepherd asks him:

"If I guess your profession, will you return my animal to me?"

The young man answers, "Yes, why not?"

The shepherd says, "You are an IT consultant."

"How did you know?" asks the young man.

"Very simple," answers the shepherd.

"Firstly, you came here without being called.

Secondly, you charged me a fee to tell me something I already knew, and

Thirdly, you don’t understand anything about my business.

(PAUSE)

Now please can I have my dog back?"

Shepherds are often considered hillbillies but there is a lot of skill and know how that goes into being a Shepherd – and this is often passed on from generation to generation.

God seems to have a soft spot for Shepherds. He even identifies Himself as the “Good Shepherd”

And of course Psalm 23 begins with “The Lord is my Shepherd". God himself identifies with Shepherds

1. The Christmas Story

And the Shepherds play a significant role in the Christmas story.

The Angel came to them and said – referring to Jesus :

“Do not be afraid; for see I am bringing you good news of great joy for all people. To you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour, who is the Messiah, the Lord…” (Lk 2:10,11)

2. The Shepherds

What puzzled me when I was first preparing my talk was:

“Why was this wonderful revelation was given to shepherds and not to the “Good and the Great” in Israel at the time.

Story: Now if I had been an Angelic spin-doctor advising the Lord God, I would have respectfully suggested that if you wanted to make maximum impact, conventional wisdom would dictate that you make a big splash with the “Good and the Great” in the land.

Forget the Shepherds – you don’t want to get involved with them!

After all, shepherds had a bad reputation in Jesus’ day.

They weren’t the sort of people you’d want “proclaiming anything – let alone the birth of God’s one and only Son!”.

What do I mean?

1. Shepherds were considered unclean.

Their line of work prevented them from participating in the feasts and holy days that made up the Jewish religious calendar.

When everyone else was making the trip to Jerusalem to make sacrifices at the temple, or to participate in one of the annual feasts, shepherds had to be out in the fields, watching over the sheep.

2. Shepherds were looked on with suspicion.

They were constantly on the move.

They had a rather unendearing quality of confusing “thine” with “mine”.

They were renown for thieving. If it wasn’t bolted down when the shepherds came to town – you’d lost it!!!

If something went missing - it was always those shepherds again.

3. You could not trust the word of a Shepherd.

They were prone to be “economical with the truth”.

And so they were not allowed to act as witnesses in

a Court of Law because their word was not considered trustworthy.

The Talmud states,

"No help should be given to heathen and shepherds."

4. Shepherds were rough, uneducated men.

They were accustomed to hard life. Most of the time, they were "living out in the fields" (v. 8). They were with the sheep 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

They watched while the sheep grazed. They had to keep an eye out for predators like wolves. And they were pretty skilful with a sling.

And, at night, they actually slept with the sheep in the sheep pen to guard against theft and animal attack.

Most were illiterate and unrefined. People in the cities looked down on the shepherding life.

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