I’ve often wondered why the good news came first to shepherds. They weren’t influential or powerful. They had a hard time keeping the Sabbath because sheep needed constant protection. Shepherds were willing to die to protect their lambs from the perils of wild animals and steep ravines.
They were just common folk. Like me.
Abraham, Moses and David were all shepherds. Lambs tended on the hills around Bethlehem were often slaughtered in temple sacrifices. It was on one of those hills in the quiet night against the bleating of sheep, the birth of a Savior was announced. The angel of the Lord stood before the shepherds, and God’s glory shone around them, bright against the night. They were terrified.
“Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy,” the angel said. “You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:10-12; NKJV.
They hurried to see for themselves.
“I am the Good Shepherd,” Jesus declares in John 10:14-15; NKJV, “…and I lay down My life for the sheep.”
In my mind’s eye, I see a group of smelly shepherds, perfectly at home around a feeding trough. I see their heads bent silently over the makeshift baby bed. I imagine The Babe searches the circle of faces above where He lies. The Good Shepherd looks into each, Shepherd to shepherd.