In the Gospel of Luke we are told that: “Shepherds were out in the field, keeping what over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, ‘Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the City of David a Saviour, who is Christ the Lord’”.
Jesus Christ said “I am the good shepherd” and He said it for a reason because like in His day there were others called Jesus, He differentiated himself with the truth that He was Jesus Christ. The Christ and the messiah. The same, there were others known as shepherds and so Jesus told us that He is the Good Shepherd.
In our day we don’t hear of a lot of people given the name Jesus as we don’t hear of those with livestock being titled as shepherds and maybe the closet we get is to that of those going “droving”.
In biblical times shepherds were well known, but not much admired. In Genesis 46:34 they are called loathsome and in Numbers 14:33 we hear of being a shepherd was to be considered suffering in punishment as we are told: “And your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they shall suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness.”
The shepherds of those times were despised by the orthodox good people of the day. Shepherds were quite unable to keep the details of the ceremonial law as with the constant demands placed on them by their flocks they could not observe all the meticulous hand washings and rules and regulations and were looked down as very common people.”
Yet God specialises in reaching those considered unreachable. People like the shepherds in the first century and people like a man named Michael Braithwaite in America. A man that after coming to know Christ burnt his stock of adult sex toys worth thousands of dollars to transform his store into a Christian book shop.
An adult shop proprietor of ill repute, con men and tricksters and those of questionable character. It was to such that the angels sang of the good news of the Christ child. To the shepherds, the guys who ran the local black markets, the guys not welcome in the synagogue and the guys that could not even testify in the courts of law of the time. Yet the guys chosen to testify concerning the birth of the much awaited Messiah who we are told in Luke 2, verse 20: “The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen”.
Jesus Christ is the good Shepherd and by association to Him, ministers of religion are called shepherds. Yet a description that is a paradox for many, and certainly me as a sinner in myself and that of a rogue shepherd of the first century. Yet in Christ and washed clean in His blood, allowed to walk in His presence trusting that in knowing His grace upon this sinner, that others may hear of, and know of that grace for themselves.
God sent His Son Jesus, Jesus Christ the Messiah and saviour to reach the unreachable and that He found me, and found you and showed His love and the Love of God the Father by being raised on a cross, to die a torturous death and be raised three days later so that we too will raised on our last day brings tears to our eyes and joy in our hearts.
Tears because we see that after such a great sacrifice, we still fail. Yet the joy of His Gospel, that in Him, though the failures out way the successes, though the sins are prevalent and the good works rare, that by trusting in our Lord and the forgiveness that he has brought, that we stand before the Father spotless and glowing in His righteousness. The righteousness of Jesus Christ our Saviour.
This Christmas we remember a little baby that should have been clothed in robes of royal purple, yet was wrapped in simple cloth and lies on the floor of a stable if an animal’s feeding trough. Jesus who would grow from infancy to manhood, and from manhood to Saviourhood. From cradle to cross, from Bethlehem’s cave to Calvary’s crucifixion, Jesus showed us the immense love of God for His people. For us.
His love so great that He only asks we accept His Son as our Saviour, and trust in the forgiveness He brings.
And though we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we will fear no evil because He is by our side. And though we may walk unsteady and heavy laden, He takes our weight on himself that we can find the peace that He so wants to give.
The peace He asks we accept this Christmas and in the year to come of not looking back on our sins and failures of past, but looking back to see Him, the Good Shepherd reaching the unreachable.
The peace He asks this Christmas and in the year to come that we take with us, and offer to others.
To us was born a Saviour, and though we may sin and fail, we get up, because in Him, and in Him alone we are saved, and that is peace enough.
I pray you have a blessed Christmas and New Year and achieve all that you set out for, and for that, that He sets for us. Amen.