â€œAnd there were in the same country shepherds abiding in the field keeping watch over their flock by night.â€ (Luke 2:8 KJV)
The season of Advent is once again upon us. Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas and is a time to prepare for Christmas. This year I want to ponder some of the â€œsupporting castâ€ of the Christmas story. Specifically, I want to look at the ones who are waiting; in the case of the first Christmas, waiting for the coming of the Messiah.
First up will be the shepherds. There has been some debate on the place of shepherds in the society of the 1st century. The shepherd metaphor is a powerful one in the Old Testament. In Ezekiel 34 God promises to be Israelâ€™s shepherd, to replace the evil shepherds that had ruled over them. King David comes on the scene as a shepherd. One of the best know Psalm, Ps 23, says â€˜The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not wantâ€
In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of himself as the good shepherd. Jesusâ€™ call to Peter boils down to a call to be a good shepherd to the people under his care.
But the life of a shepherd kept them on the move They needed to continually be finding fresh pasture for the sheep. The sheep needed constant care. This meant that shepherds could not participate in the usual religious life of the Jewish people. So people, and especially the religious, looked down on them. Notice that Luke seems to have an eye towards those who are regarded as of lower status. Mary (more on her in a future post) says, â€œHe has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;Â he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.â€ Â Luke 1:52-53 (NRSV) The shepherds, perhaps because of their lowly status, are the first to be told of Jesus birth.
So what can we learn from the shepherds?Â [Read more…] about Supporting Cast to the Christmas Story: Shepherds