Summary: Have you ever wondered why God would chose shepherds? Why not Rabbis, priests, King Herod, or the High Priest himself?
Why Shepherds? Scripture Reading: Luke 2:820
Last week we heard about the birth of John the Baptist and that he was the forerunner to Jesus. He was called from the womb to prepare the way for our Lord.
This morning we are going to look at shepherds. Shepherds were not really important in the eyes of man. Shepherds were considered a lower class of people in Jewish culture. These men were dirty, they slept out in the open, lived with their animals and only kelp company with other shepherds. However, we must remember that David, King of Isreal was a shepherd.
So here in the book of Luke, we have shepherds tending their sheep in fields and an angel of the Lord appears to them.
Have you ever wondered why God would chose shepherds? Why not Rabbis, priests, King Herod, or the High Priest himself?
Why not fishermen, potters, or Jewish leaders?
Jewish leaders were keepers of the law. They knew the law, they knew what the Torah said. They read or heard all the prophecies.
So, why shepherds? I want us to look at six possibilities for God to chose shepherds.
Open your Bibles to Luke 2:8-20
I. God Does the Unexpected. He seldom works as we expect, and this actually attests to the authenticity of the story. If you had been a Jewish writer wanting to make up a story about the entrance of the Messiah--the Savior of the World--into human history after two thousand years of prophecy, would you have invented a tale in which He was born in a stable and laid in a feed bin? Would you have made the announcement to a bunch of shepherds? One Jewish scholar wrote: "[The circumstances Luke records] afford the strongest indirect evidence of the truth of this narrative. For if it were the outcome of Jewish imagination, where is the basis for it in contemporary expectation? Would Jewish legend have ever presented its Messiah as born in a stable, to which chance circumstances had consigned his mother. The whole current of Jewish opinion would run in the contrary direction."
II. Jesus was the descendant of a Shepherd-King. There is great emphasis in the Gospels on the fact that Jesus had descended, as to His earthly nature, from the line of David, the shepherd-king who had once kept flocks in those very fields. A thousand years before, the boy David was among flocks in those same rugged pastures. Now another Shepherd-King—the Son of David--had been born. It was to a new generation of shepherds, to the vocational descendants of David, that the announcement was made of the Great Shepherd who was coming into the world.
III. The Angelic Choir Needed an Outdoor Audience. This might seem a trite and inconsequential point, but as I visualize the scene in my mind it seems like a practical consideration. No house, temple, chapel, or cathedral could have contained the angelic numbers that night. Highest heaven was evidently emptied as the blackened sky was filled with ten thousand times ten thousand angels. Only a group under the open skies could have received the message.
IV. Jesus Came to the Poor and Humble. He came to redeem common, ordinary people like us. The appearance to the shepherds is the perfect compliment to His being born in a stable and laid in a manger. It symbolized His poverty. He left the ivory palaces of heaven to enter a world of woe. He who had been rich became poor that we through His poverty might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9; see Is. 61:13). It is helpful to balance this point by remembering Matthew’s account in which the star appeared to the wise men, who were the exact opposite of shepherds. They were cultured, respected, wealthy, Gentiles. Jesus came for all.
V. A Lamb Was Born that Night. Perhaps most importantly, this message was given to shepherds because of the nature of the message itself. The Lamb of God had come into the world. The picture of a Lamb is the Bible’s most consistent picture of Christ. Who would be a more appropriate audience for the Good News about the birth of the Lamb than an audience of shepherds? But there’s more. The Hebrew scholar Alfred Edersheim tells us that the flocks near Bethlehem were no ordinary sheep, but were those being raised for sacrificial uses in the temple. "How right the angels should appear to them that night."
VI. These Shepherds Were Spiritually-Minded Men. I think we can read between the lines and assume that here was a handful of men devoted to the Lord. As Jesus later put it, God hides His secrets from the "wise and prudent" and reveals them to babes (Matt. 11:24). It’s possible for shepherds to have great depth. Consider David. It was while keeping his father’s sheep that he developed his spiritual muscles. And notice in this passage how quickly the shepherds believed and obeyed the angelic message.